UPDATE: CRCSD moves forward with $220+ million facilities master - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: CRCSD moves forward with $220+ million facilities master plan

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

On Monday night, the Cedar Rapids Community School District voted unanimously to approve its facilities master plan.

During the meeting, close to 20 people spoke in opposition of the plan and asked the board to delay the vote. Three others spoke in favor of the plan.

Those against it said the district didn't provide enough time for the community to learn about the plan and for input. The plan was made available close to six weeks but the opposition said it came during the busy, holiday time.

Superintendent Brad Buck said the next step is for the board to put together a more comprehensible plan together with more details. 

"We spent 18 months investigating the topic and listening. This demarcation point allows us now to begin to move forward in the planning in a lot more specific ways," Buck said.

At the podium, people against the plan voiced concerns over lack of green space and losing neighborhood schools that students are able to walk to.

Dexter Merschbrock was one of the many people that took to the podium against the plan. During his statement, he had others in the crowd hold up sheets of the 600 signatures they recently collected from others who opposed the plan.

"It's very disappointing. You heard from everyone here there were very few people in support of the plan but its like the board members didn't care to hear anything that the public to say. They already had their statement and their decision ready to go and they completely disregarded what we had to say," he said.

The plan will be rolled out for two decades in three tiers. The first schools to be torn down will be Coolidge, Arthur, and  Jackson.

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The Cedar Rapids Community School District has a facilities master plan that includes closing eight of it's elementary schools. 

New schools would be built in the process. 

The preliminary plan was discussed in the district's board meeting earlier this week. 

Superintendent Dr. Brad Buck tells KWWL the plan is still flexible. 

They will have three public input sessions in November before it's finalized and officially brought before the board. 

We are told more information about those public session will come out as they get closer. 

Right now the plan is to close Van Buren, Truman, Taylor, Madison, Nixon, Garfield, Grant Wood and Kenwood. 

Buck says the buildings would most likely be turned into something else, for example Monroe which was sold in the past is now used for low-income housing. 

"What we are not going to do is own schools, and leave them sitting and vacated and become a problem for our community," he tells us. 

The remaining 13 schools would stay open to be renovated and expanded or in many cases their sites could be used to build brand new schools from the ground up. 

The new schools would have large gym spaces that can be locked off from the rest of the building. 
 "So it's able to be used by community groups, senior citizens when you're not in the regular school day," says Buck. 

The district is hoping the schools could be community hubs. 
"Cedar Rapids (is an) exciting, vibrant space and we could be situated in a way that will add to that vibrancy and excitement," Buck tells us. 

Schools would have 600 students each but the plans are so preliminary there aren't mock-ups available yet. 

"We want to reassure people that while we're making progress towards a plan and the board does expect a plan to be put in front of them, no final decisions have been made at this point," Buck says. 

While the plans aren't finalized they will be very soon, the board expects the final plan to come before them in December. 

The district is advocating for a 20 year extension of the SAVE fund. 

We are told if the money is available the earliest they could start the process is July 2020 so it would likely be 15-20 years before the plan would be complete. 

The total renovation costs would be nearly $257 million. 

Dr. Buck says the changes would not impact staff except for maybe their location, it would also not impact class sizes. 

If anything he says, classes could get smaller. 

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