The Cedar Rapids Community School District is eager to deliver on its promise of Every Learner. Future Ready. and we are working hard to evolve our teaching practices, our workforce, and our facilities to most effectively meet the needs of our 21st century learners. The future-ready Facility Master Plan is one of several bold and game-changing efforts underway to achieve our goals.
The future-ready Facility Master Plan is an effort driven by community and CRCSD collaboration, along with an immense amount of data and analysis. The plan ensures that all elementary facilities optimize the learning and teaching experiences for our students and staff. A committee of community members and CRCSD employees met over the course of 15 months to design the plan which was presented to the Board of Education in 2017 and adopted in 2018.
The initial plan was kicked off just prior to the historical COVID-19 pandemic and derecho natural disaster recovery occurring in 2020 and throughout the first part of 2021. While CRCSD was focused on crisis initiatives during this time period, the first two components of the Facility Master Plan still proceeded. The elementary schools at the Coolidge and Jackson sites broke ground, with West Willow opening August 2021 and Jackson (Maple Grove) set to open in fall 2022.
Please be watching for updates to the original plan as CRCSD and the community regroup after the pandemic and derecho events. A committee will be formed to review the original plan and timeline and present any new data and initiatives as we stand committed to future-ready facility development.
Questions from the community and media
Click the teal arrows to show CRCSD’s answers to questions from the community and media.
Could the district choose to do more than a $50 million bond?
Any bond capacity and direction has to be a board decision. These will be topics discussed in upcoming CRCSD board meetings. CRCSD has only started the data gathering process this fall, which includes a financial assessment as well as an assessment of facilities. Based on the current state, a $50 million dollar bond capacity would not raise taxes; however, the Facilities Master Plan Task Force, the board, and the community over the next several months may decide that CRCSD needs to go in a different direction. These conversations are just starting as the Facilities Master Plan Task Force and the CRCSD board of directors will be discussing and meeting in the upcoming months.
October 7, 2021
How many signatures are needed for the district to call a special election?
CRCSD is reviewing Iowa Code section 296.2 and will follow up with a response.
October 7, 2021
Why would a $50 million general obligation bond not raise taxes? Is this because some other debt is being paid off or how can the district afford this without a rate increase?
CRCSD no longer has a General Obligation (GO) Bond payment, as all GO Bonds have been paid off in FY21. If a potential $50 million GO Bond is approved by the CRCSD board of directors and passed by the taxpayers, based on the current market conditions, the amount of the GO Bond levy will be offset by the additional levies governed by the CRCSD board of directors through the certified budget process.
October 7, 2021
How can community members and stakeholders be involved in the task force and reviewing the facilities master plan?
CRCSD is distributing a sign up for community members who are interested in participating in the process. The sign up link will be going out in the CRCSD eNewsletter; CRCSD will also continue to have community gatherings (virtual/in person), surveys, etc. Those communicated schedules for the community gatherings will be forthcoming and posted in the events section of the CRCSD homepage. Again, the CRCSD board of directors will be discussing this process in the October 25th meeting.
October 7, 2021View CRCSD homepage
CRCSD factual responses to media inaccuracies or misleading information
To keep the community taxpayers, families, students, staff and all media outlets accurately informed on the Future Ready Facilities initiative, CRCSD will be posting factual clarification responses to inaccuracies or misleading information cited in the media.
The following four entries relate to The Gazette’s October 8, 2021 article.
Click on teal arrow to view CRCSD’s four responses to October 8, 2021 article
1. “District administrators and the board will begin circulating petitions calling for a special election.” – Reported by The Gazette on October 8, 2021
Factual information from CRCSD regarding The Gazette inaccuracy:
As of October 2021, the board of directors has not had a discussion on whether they will have a petition calling for a special election. Note that it is not required under Iowa Code based on the potential $50 million amount being estimated at this time. Iowa Code requires a petition to be obtained if the amount of the asking exceeds 1.25 percent of the taxable assessed valuation of the district. What CRCSD would be presenting to the taxpayers would be less than this amount, so it is up to the board as to whether they choose to circulate a petition or not. Note that $80.5 million would be the threshold to require a petition to be circulated. The “circulating petitions” topic has not been discussed by “district administrators and the board” at this point and a decision has not been made, therefore it is inaccurate for The Gazette to state “District administrators and the board will begin circulating petitions calling for a special election.”
2. “In the years since the school board approved the elementary schools facilities plan, its price tag has increased by $85 million – to $309 million – and the construction of Jackson alone is nearly $6 million more than expected.” – Reported by The Gazette on October 8, 2021
Factual response from CRCSD regarding The Gazette’s misleading statement:
From the initial adoption of the plan in 2018, the cost of the elementary schools has increased significantly, but Maple Grove Elementary (Jackson) came in $1.1 million less than what was projected going into the January 2021 bid. For example, West Willow’s all-in cost is estimated at $25.3 million; going into the January 2021 bid, CRCSD expected Maple Grove’s all-in cost to be $25.8 million, but it is now projected to be approximately $24.7 million, which is less than expected. Therefore, it is misleading for The Gazette to state “and the construction of Jackson alone is nearly $6 million more than expected.”
3. October 8, 2021
The Gazette headline print version: C.R. starts planning for $50M school bond vote
The Gazette headline online version: Cedar Rapids schools plan for potential $50 million bond vote for 2022
Factual information from CRCSD regarding The Gazette inaccuracy:
The print version headline is inaccurate and misleading, as CRCSD has not solidified, at this time, that there will be a $50M school bond vote. The online version includes the word “potential” and is accurate.
4. “The district is considering holding a special election on a general obligation bond issue for either March 1, 2022, the earliest date the district can hold an election, or on Sept. 13, 2022, Bush said.” – Reported by The Gazette on October 8, 2021
This is what Superintendent Bush supplied The Gazette regarding this specific topic:
If we were to consider a GO Bond, we know that March would be the earliest date to have an election on a GO Bond Ballot; September would be the next possible date for a GO Bond. If the FMP Task Force would make a recommendation to consider the March date for initial projects, we would have to be prepared for that. The Task Force might very well recommend a later date or another scope of work as well.
Note: The FMP Task Force will be composed of approximately 50 committee members that will include community members, parents, community partners, board members and staff. FMP Task Force, the entity that will make the recommendation for any potential special election, will have members beyond just “the district.” Therefore, it is inaccurate for The Gazette to state “The district is considering holding a special election on a general obligation bond issue . . .”
Statement per Superintendent Bush
For background, please see the original Facilities Master Plan overview. In the near future, overview board presentations and board discussions will take place (beginning with the October 25, 2021 board meeting) and weekly updates will be provided via the CRCSD eNewsletter, along with updated information posted on the new Future Ready Facilities website. Additionally, questions from the community and media will be added to the website, with CRCSD responses, for all community members and media to view.
When you consider the significant changes in the role of technology in education and how students learn, the age of our current facilities, the cost of maintaining and minimally upgrading our facilities versus the cost and efficiencies of new, and the cost of operating 21 underpopulated buildings, the educational value of our facilities plan becomes clearly evident.Jim Craig, Attorney, Lederer Weston Craig, PLC
I have been an educator for almost 30 years and have worked in many different facilities. I strongly believe our children deserve the best that we can provide and our community needs to be forward thinking as we hope families will be attracted to our community and that as young adults make life decisions about where they will raise their families, they choose to stay here.Candace Lynch, Retired Principal, Johnson STEAM Academy
Aspirational at the core, the future-ready facilities plan honors the committee’s shared beliefs, the data we examined, the consensus conclusions we reached, and an enduring commitment to focused and sustained community conversations.Alan Rowe, Associate Vice President – Institutional Effectiveness, Kirkwood Community College
I am a pragmatic person by nature and what has kept me supportive of this plan is that we have a problem that must be addressed. The CRCSD simply cannot continue down the path that it is on. We had to develop a viable solution and this plan emerged from that shared understanding. Status quo is not an option.Phil Wasta, Executive Director, MedQuarter