Closed Waterloo school gets new life - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Closed Waterloo school gets new life

WATERLOO (KWWL) - A Waterloo elementary school closed last year is getting new life.

Waterloo Community Schools says it will reopen Longfellow Elementary School as a place for students with discipline problems.

The district closed Longfellow last year in a cost-cutting move.

Now, the district says it'll re-use the school building for at least next school year as a site for students who've been suspended or have other discipline issues.

This school year, Longfellow Elementary sat silent.

It closed last June.

But this building will soon get new life as an interim home for the Waterloo district's school suspension program.

"It's a treatment facility to help teach kids the behaviors that we want to see them have in the classroom so it's a discipline center but it's also a treatment center to help teach those new behaviors," said Sharon Miller, Director of School & Community Relations.

For the last several years, the district contracted with Four Oaks in downtown Waterloo to administer the program.

Space concerns caused the district to end its year-to-year contract with Four Oaks for that program.

About 40 Waterloo district students can be sent there at a time.

District officials say it could easily double that number at an in-house facility at Longfellow.

They say it would also help the district cut down on the number of special needs students designated as suspended.

"Even with additional capacity at Four Oaks, which is a private facility outside the district, we would still have the issue about special needs and placements there being counted as suspensions," said Miller.

Four Oaks administrators say Waterloo's move will force them to re-evaluate their operations.

They serve other area school districts in the same capacity but Waterloo sends them the most students by far.

They've reached an agreement with Waterloo Schools on a transfer for 10 employees currently running the program.

But they say the district may have its hands full because it has to operate to fit the restrictions of a public school which four oaks doesn't have to do as a private facility.

Four Oaks will continue to run its day treatment program with juvenile court services for young offenders.

As for Longfellow School, the district currently runs a pre-school at its annex.

They say that shouldn't be affected.

They say the school should be ready to re-open by the beginning of the next school year.

Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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