Cedar Rapids, IA (October 23, 2023) – Since the closing of Taft Middle School’s east dome on October 11, 2023, the Cedar Rapids Community School District has continued work with Raker Rhodes Structural Engineering in conjunction with Terracon Testing Agency, Solum Lang Architects, and McComas-Lacina Construction to further inspect and test the remaining dome portions at Taft and Harding Middle Schools.

Since school was not in session today, the consulting teams were onsite at both middle schools, conducting additional evaluations. They determined that there was deterioration on several more of the support beams and recommended that the district proactively close all of the remaining domes at both Harding and Taft. The domes will remain closed until repairs can be made to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff.

Today’s investigation revealed additional damage, which was not seen on our visual evaluation underneath the steel supports,” says Chad Schumacher, Director of Operations at CRCSD. “In addition, as we move into the winter months, the extra weight of snow and ice on the domes would put more stress on the beams, causing things to shift and move. Knowing this, we are taking precautions in closing all four domes.”

CRCSD will suspend the use of the dome areas by students, staff, athletic teams, and community groups until further notice. These new closures will impact the west dome of Taft Middle School, which houses the gymnasium. The east dome was already closed back on October 11th. At Harding Middle School, both domes will close, which affects the cafeteria, kitchen, performing arts classrooms, and gymnasium.

Raker Rhodes Structural Engineering indicates they will have a structural repair plan for all of the domes at Taft and Harding ready to present to the district as soon as possible..

CRCSD is working to acquire portable buildings for Taft Middle School to provide additional classroom space. Classrooms will be rearranged at Harding to open up space for lunch, performing arts, and PE classes. Space for gym activities, practices, and athletic events will be determined and communicated by each school’s principal in the coming days. On Tuesday, October 24th, Taft and Harding’s 7th-grade boys basketball games are canceled.

Our engineers and architects are developing a comprehensive repair plan for all four of the domes, and we will be working in conjunction with the consulting teams to ensure these repairs are made as swiftly and effectively as possible while maintaining the highest safety standards. I want to thank our families and staff for adjusting quickly and for their understanding as we all work together to support our students during this time,” adds CRCSD Superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover.

Taft Middle School and Harding Middle School were both built in 1965 and share the same structural design. Harding and Taft are currently the district’s largest middle schools, housing 730 and 578 students, respectively.