Regents vote to close Price Lab - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Regents vote to close Price Lab

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

The Iowa Board of Regents voted on Monday to close Malcolm Price Lab School on the University of Northern Iowa campus after recommendations from UNI President Ben Allen.

Last week, Allen announced his recommendations as part of additional budget cutting measures at the university.

Regent Robert Downer abstained from the vote. The rest of the board members voted in favor of closing the school.

The Waterloo and Cedar Falls public school districts are forced to prepare for what could be the aftermath of the closure.  Superintendents in both districts say there's plenty of space for extra students and more teachers-in-training.

"We are going to have to add some sections in a couple of elementary buildings. So we'll be adding teachers to do that," said Cedar Falls superintendent Dr. David Stoakes.

 

Stoakes says that will be done to avoid increasing class sizes.

As for student teachers -- area schools plan to expand an existing program to continue UNI's mission of providing quality teacher training.

"We have been working the last three years in the professional development school model with Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and the University of Northern Iowa. And President Allen has committed to providing additional funds to help us expand that model," said Stoakes.

 

Local schools believe using that model will provide a similar training experience to what current student teachers at Price Lab undergo.
Of course, there are still skeptics...and implementing a new system will present some challenges.

In the end, UNI feels the new model will be a success... Allowing it to keep its reputation as a leader in educating teachers.

The Board of Regents acknowledges closing Price Lab is a direct result of continued budget cuts to higher education in Iowa, which has been slashed 24% in the past four years.

Regent Miles noted -- if anything good comes from closing Price Lab -- it's a message that it's time to end those cuts before the universities suffer irreversible damage.

The closure will now need to be approved by the Iowa legislature.

Allen recommended closing the school by July 1.

 
Congressman Bruce Braley released a statement in response to the Regents vote:

"It's a sad day when state funding cuts force a choice between keeping a university functional and keeping a special school like Price Lab open.

"At a time when politicians talk endlessly about education reform, closing a top-notch, nationally recognized school that actually walks the walk on educational innovation is the wrong thing to do.

"Iowa's economic success depends on our ability to properly educate a new generation of teachers and innovators. There is no innovation without education. We should be investing in and improving education for our kids – not closing our best schools."


Another statement comes from Black Hawk County Democrats in the State Senate, Rep. Bob Kressig, Rep. Deborah Berry, Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic, Sen. Jeff Danielson, and Sen. Bill Dotzler:

"We're deeply disappointed in the Board of Regents' decision today to close the Price Lab School. Their decision was made without any input from parents, students, teachers, or others in our community. This lack of transparency in an era of open government is alarming.

There's no plan in place to help the students and families currently enrolled at Price Lab or provide the quality training for students at UNI who are training to be teachers.

With so many unanswered questions, there was no reason to rush this decision and close Price Lab. We've heard from hundreds of Iowans about the closing and they deserved to be heard before this decision was made.

We're going to review every legislative option we have and work to keep the school open."

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