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Iowa City's Roosevelt Elementary gets new life

BY LAUREN COFFEY | SEPTEMBER 24, 2012 6:30 AM

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Although the elementary schools throughout the Iowa City School District may need such renovations as air conditioning and new ceilings, district officials are reviving Roosevelt Elementary to house various programs.

The School District announced on Sept. 18 that Roosevelt, now referred Theodore Roosevelt Education Center, will be reopened to house such programs as the T-3 program, two of the three bridges connections, and Connection.

“It helps share the community services; it makes good sense,” said Kate Callahan, the director of Off-Site Programs. “Though at some point in time, we will just need to decide whether to sell it or not.”

Roosevelt Elementary was closed in May because of the deterioration of the school.

Officials had planned to sell the school at an appraised value of $770,000. They received a bid of $202,000. After restrictions were passed to ensure the school would be used appropriately, not for things such as a gas station or student apartments, the property was appraised at $300,000.

The School Board struggled with a decision to hold on to the property, grappling with whether to abandon the restrictions of the grounds to raise the price of the property.

However, the board decided last month to hold on to the property to see if anything more could be done.

Keeping the property costs the school $50,000 per year, which board members and members of the community argued would be a small price to pay to ensure the property could be used to its full extent.

The use of Roosevelt comes alongside the controversy of using School Infrastructure Local Option tax funds for elementary-school renovations instead of being saved to build a new high school at some point in the future. David Dude, the executive director of resources for the district, said he doesn’t know if the use of Roosevelt will affect the decision with the local-option funds.

“I don’t know if it would have an effect on that, but I suppose anything can happen,” he said.

Board member Sally Hoelscher also doesn’t know if using Roosevelt will have any effect on the board members’ viewpoints on the use of the local-option funds, but she is happy with the decision to utilize Roosevelt’s resources.

“It appears by trying to meet stipulations, we’re not going to get what we want,” she said. “We want to use it for other uses. I think it’s a good compromise.”

The programs at the Roosevelt Center will now be in a central location; they were had been located through various places in the district.

“They were located through the district, and now they are centralized programs,” Callahan said.

“Programs will be there the remainder of the year. I think [using Roosevelt to house programs] makes a lot of sense. It’s cost-effective, and it helps mainstream transportation.”


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