Waterloo Schools discuss high school reform options - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo Schools discuss high school reform options

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A big shift in the way Waterloo's two public high schools are organized could mean big changes for students.

Waterloo schools are working on a plan which district officials say would better prepare students for business or technical careers and higher education.

It's based on the work of a 56-member task force which has been looking into the future of high school programs and facilities for the last few years, including visits to 20 other school districts across the country.

Thursday night, the district outlined its findings and tentative proposals on what may change at East and West High.

A power point presentation isn't very exciting to most people - but for district officials with Waterloo Schools, it's the best way to present options.

They say the district needs to change the way it operates when it comes to preparing its students.

"We feel there is a group of students that we are not hitting the mark and we're missing them for educating them and the other piece is that and there's a changing labor market so when you put the two together we have students that need something different," said Waterloo Schools superintendent Jane Lindaman.

District officials say the changes would boost graduation rates and improve job prospects for all students.

The district says it could achieve that under three options.

"Theme A" would add unduplicated technical programs at both high schools.

"Theme B" would use Central Middle School as the high school, and rearrange other grades across the district.

"Theme C" would create a new building that would create a dedicated career center where students could spend part of their school day.

Many inside Thursday's meeting were wary of the unknown costs, how to pay for them, and how it would be implemented.

"It's good. I think it'd be good. Good for some of the students. Not sure how many students would be in the classes. That part kind of bothers me," said Pat Tovar of Waterloo.

"I think it's a good plan. It's good for Waterloo. I have some concerns for higher achieving students and how would they benefit from it but I support overall improving the school system," said Kurt Kaliban, a father of 3 students in Waterloo schools.

"We know that if we can engage kids early on, we can keep them in school and we can get them to graduate and without a high school diploma, it's really difficult to have an extremely bright future," said Lindaman.

This was the first of five meetings.

The next meeting is set for Saturday at 10 a.m. at the district's Administrative Center on Washington Street.

District officials stress the earliest that any potential bond referendum would come before voters would be April, with changes implemented about 3 years after approval.

District officials did not talk about combining athletics programs but they say if the high schools are combined, that would need to be part of the discussion at that time.

More information can be found here.

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