Plugge presents 9 Roosevelt options

BY CLARK CAHILL | MARCH 25, 2009 7:30 AM

The fate of Roosevelt Elementary may be a bit clearer.

Iowa City School District Superintendent Lane Plugge shared nine options with the School Board on Tuesday for how to handle the ongoing issue.

In its Strategic Facilities Improvement Plan, the district originally proposed to shut down Roosevelt and build a new school at the Crossings, a residential development near West High, 2900 Melrose Ave. That plan also included an addition to Horn Elementary, as well as boundary changes at the two schools and Kirkwood and Weber Elementaries.

The proposal was intended to solve overcrowding and socioeconomic issues at the schools as well as take care of Roosevelt’s many facility problems.

The nine new proposals range from $8.5 million to $20 million in construction costs, Plugge said. The original proposal would have cost $13.8 million.

Many community members have asked the School Board to consider renovating Roosevelt instead of shutting it down. Plugge included variations on this option in many of his proposals — some include fixing up and building an addition to Roosevelt, building additions to other schools, and constructing a school at the Crossings in different phases.

Building a new school at the development is included in all but one option. That proposal would build additions to Roosevelt, Horn, and Kirkwood Elementaries at a cost of more than $9.6 million.
Every option includes a boundary change for the four schools.

At two public forums held this month, participants made it clear they felt the board was moving too quickly with its plan — the board originally planned to make a decision by March 24.

Board member Gayle Klouda said there is not a time frame yet for choosing a plan. She noted the district has a facilities committee that will review the options, taking into consideration public input from the forums. The committee will eventually make a recommendation to the board.

“We don’t want the process to drag on, but we want to give the committee enough time to make an informed decision,” she said. “[The committee] will be told that there is not a great amount of time.”

Plugge said he would like the new operation to be in place and running by the 2011-12 school year.

“I have met with the Roosevelt staff to update them with where we are and how the committee will function,” he said. Officials have discussed what school employees can do to deal with some of the problems at Roosevelt, he said.

At its meeting, the board also awarded the construction bid for Garner Elementary in North Liberty to Garling Construction of Belle Plaine, Iowa, for roughly $9.4 million. The company’s base bid was $1.3 million less than the estimated construction cost.

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