Costs of Cedar Rapids School District elementary plan escalate
NOTE: Cedar Rapids School Board members can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.orgAnyone wishing to address the School Board at the Feb. 27, 2023, meeting should arrive a few minutes before the 5:30 p.m. start time to sign in as a speaker. Meetings are heldat the Educational Leadership & Support Center, 2500 Edgewood Rd. NW.
A public hearing at the Feb. 27, 2023, Cedar Rapids Community School District Board of Education meeting will address bids for the new school at the Arthur Elementary site, 2630 B Ave. NE.
Cost savings were touted when the district first imposed its elementary schools Facilities Master Plan, but the predicted cost of each new school has skyrocketed from $20 million to now, $30 million.
Those dollars, used to remove walkable neighborhood schools, could go toward upgrading middle schools and high schools — something taxpayers will be asked to fund later this year — as well as existing elementary schools.
Save Cedar Rapids Heritage encourages the School Board to re-examine its Facilities Master Plan, especially in light of the latest bid results, but also for environmental and equity reasons.
See the full Save CR Heritage letter to the School Board, below:
Feb. 27, 2023
Dear Board of Education,
Save Cedar Rapids Heritage respectfully requests the board re-examine the Facilities Master Plan for elementary schools, particularly in light of the bids for the replacement school on the Arthur Elementary site.
Initially, the public was told the plan offered cost-savings over time and each new elementary school would cost approximately $20 million. Before the first school was built, that amount had increased to $25 million and now the latest bids have come in at nearly $30 million, a cost that undoubtedly will be surpassed once other expenses are included.
Members of the FMP task force were erroneously led to believe the SAVE funding, which is being used to build the new schools, can only be used for elementary schools. We ask you to correct that misinformation and let the public know that SAVE funding could actually be used to upgrade our middle schools and high schools; something you will be asking taxpayers to pay for later this year.
Save CR Heritage works to preserve our city’s historic resources through education, assistance, advocacy and action, and our members are committed to environmental practices. Upgrading existing buildings – we haven’t heard that any are structurally unsound – can help avoid significant environmentally costly new emissions, and keep tons of building materials out of our landfill.
We strongly support doing what is best for our students, teachers and staff, and find it a stretch to believe that removing walkable neighborhood schools is in the best interest of our students. Studies have shown that removing neighborhood schools negatively impacts students of lower socioeconomic status, particularly for families who lack reliable transportation. Several parents who signed the petition for a public hearing on Garfield Elementary said they lived next to the school for that very reason.
While it is too late for the first three schools, including the school on the Arthur site – the subject of tonight’s public hearing – we ask you to take an actual “pause” to consider the future of all of our district’s school buildings and the ramifications for our students, neighborhoods and taxpayers.