Share your Cedar Rapids school stories
Jul 2017

Share your Cedar Rapids school stories

Harrison Elementary School, which opened in northwest Cedar Rapids in 1930, was built with an English Tudor design. (photo/Nicole Halvorson)

By Cindy Hadish

CEDAR RAPIDS – Even as progress is made in upgrading school buildings in the Cedar Rapids School District, a new proposal is working its way forward.

In the coming months, the School Board will consider the district’s facilities plan, which could include constructing 13 new elementary schools, at a cost of up to $260 million.

During public input sessions over the past year, consultants presented the three options available under this plan:

Option 1: Build 13 new elementary schools, each with a 600-student capacity.

Option 2: Build 13 new elementary schools, three with a 450-student capacity and 10 with a 600-student capacity.

Option 3: Build 13 new elementary schools, four with a 450-student capacity and nine with a 600-student capacity.

Architectural details, such as these on Wilson Middle School in Cedar Rapids, provide character in the district’s older schools that cannot be duplicated. (photo/Nicole Halvorson)

No options were offered to use the current schools, though representatives at the meetings said consideration would be given to keep the newest school buildings.

This raises several concerns.

Not only do our older buildings have character that cannot be duplicated, the schools were built to last, so a question arises as to how much “savings” will be realized in constructing new schools.

But Save CR Heritage, which is dedicated to raising awareness of the value of historic properties, sees this as more than a preservation issue.

This is about our neighborhoods.

Taking away these smaller schools, many of which are in core neighborhoods where affordable housing exists, will lead to deterioration of those areas and destroy the fabric of our neighborhoods.

Donate here to help Save CR Heritage continue its mission. Any amount is vital for our work in advocating for and raising awareness of at-risk historical properties. Thank you!

Generations of families have learned and thrived in these buildings and with proper care, the schools can continue to serve future generations.

Read the history of Harrison Elementary School here.

The next School Board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, July 17, 2017, at the Educational Leadership & Support Center, 2500 Edgewood Rd. NW.

Members of the public who wish to speak must sign in before the meeting, and have a 5-minute limit in which to address the board.

Feel free to share your favorite memory of your neighborhood Cedar Rapids school in a comment below, or on the Save CR Heritage Facebook page.

Find the history of the district’s 31 school buildings here.

Harrison Elementary School, which opened in Cedar Rapids in 1930, is shown in 2017. (photo/Nicole Halvorson)



Aww, come on. Money better spent on other things. These old schools are classic, beautiful and should remain in service. In 2012 school board member Meisterling, explained that she was simply tossing out an idea for the “distant future”, not a concrete plan about selling McKinley . And it’s her own idea, not the school board’s or the school district’s. She said the school’s future within the medical district is something to consider as the district develops over the next five or 10 years. Well, it’s been 5 years so……

“It’s not a real proposal,” Meisterling said


Tons of happy memories. Ice cream socials, summers playing hopscotch and Chinese jump rope at the school playground. Sledding down the hill in the winter. Everybody knew everybody.


If Cedar Rapids has any architectual character at all it is in these finely crafted “brick and mortar” buildings built not only to serve and last but to represent the city’s pride in its educational system and the importance of education to its citizens. I grew up in awe of the public schools I attended; particularly when I entered Franklin Junior High School which seemed like a cathedral to me then and now. I felt part of something big and important and it made my time there seem special. Metal beams, glass and plastic can’t replace or begin the emulate the majesty of these monuments of which there are all too few in most cities, especially CR. Keep them, update them, rehabilitate them but don’t destroy them and what the represent.


This is a very well deserved and appropriate, much needed article. Thanks Cindy for bringing these issues to Cedar Rapids’ attention.


Go Linn-Mar!!

Raegan Zachman

I understand all of your concerns but we need to focus on the well being of the kids education, I totally understand preserving our heritage but if rebuilding new schools makes our kid more comfortable while learning I’m all for it. I will way i love the old designs and architecture and I’m sure we could find a way to save or prepossess the artifacts. But we have an opportunity to better our community and our education and i as a freshman at Kennedy high school would like to take that opportunity. The longer we wait to make these changes to our schools the more costly it will become, because there will always be something to “fix” and most of the time the fix is only temporary. But i do agree with saving some of our old heritage, so we need to find a way to do that and to better our schools with new and improved more efficient ones.

    Cindy Hadish

    Thank you for your comment, Raegan, and glad you are paying attention to this issue. What the school district is failing to reveal is why some of the current buildings, which are constructed to last, cannot be reconfigured to accommodate whatever learning is best for our students. Newer construction has built-in obsolescence of 30 or 40 years, so this will all begin again, just decades away. Repurposing our buildings will be less expensive for taxpayers than new construction, which nearly always has cost overruns. We know that the school district leaders want to paint this as “what’s best for the students,” but what is truly best is to have local neighborhood schools, where students can walk or bike and don’t feel overwhelmed by the size.


I loved Garfield and i don’t want it to go but i’m happy Erskine is being rebuilt :,(


i loved Garfield when i was a kid. it shall be missed.


Nah Garfield is better, bro

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