Questions raised about CR School District plan at community forum
CEDAR RAPIDS – Residents braved cold temperatures to attend a community forum to discuss the Cedar Rapids School District’s master facilities plan.
A crowd estimated by library staff at 75 to 100 people turned out for the Jan. 2 Community Conversation at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, organized by Save CR Heritage, along with several other community groups.
The nine-member panel included members of the school district’s facilities committee after School District officials and School Board members declined an invitation to participate to answer questions about the sweeping plan in an open forum.
Panel members included the following:
Ashley Vanorny, newly elected Cedar Rapids City Council member representing District 5;
Nicole Halvorson, a board member of Save CR Heritage and a pediatric speech-language pathologist;
Ben Kaplan, who works at NewBoCo and is a co-founder of Corridor Urbanism;
Mike Wyrick, owner of Compass Advertising and chair of the Cedar Wapsie Group of the Sierra Club;
Maureen Oviatt, retired Paralegal Specialist with the Office of U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa and member of the school district’s Audit Committee and Facilities Master Planning Committee;
Keith Hammer, Program Manager for an international engineering and manufacturing software company and an organizer of Save our Cedar Rapids Neighborhoods;
Jim Craig, a founding member and trial lawyer for the Lederer Weston Craig Law Firm and a member of the Facilities Master Planning Committee;
Julie Cain, a Washington High School teacher and member of the Facilities Master Planning Committee;
Mark Stoffer Hunter, serving in his role as Cedar Rapids historian.
The forum was moderated by Bruce Nesmith, Coe College professor of political science and co-founder of Corridor Urbanism.
School Board members will vote on the plan, which would close eight elementary schools, demolish 10 others and build new, larger schools on those sites, at their Jan. 22 meeting. There will be no public vote on the issue.
Several audience members asked that the process be slowed to take into account facets about the closings that go beyond the school buildings and new construction.
To hear all of those comments during a rebroadcast of the forum, tune in to KCRG 9.2 on the following dates and times: 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 3; 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14, and 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17.
The forum can also be watched on Facebook Live on the Save CR Heritage Facebook page.