District plans for elementaries coming together

In the last few weeks, the school administration has been making many new developments in the building and remodeling of the elementary schools.

Not only did they release the plans for the add ons to Orchard Hill and North Cedar, but they also shared the plans and location of the new elementary school.

Janelle Darst, the coordinator of communications and community relations in the district, has also asked for names in regards to the new school.

“At this point there are lots of options, split between naming it (the school) geographically for the area the elementary will be in and naming it after prominent, deserving people from Cedar Falls,” Darst said.

She said eventually choosing the name is up to the school board, PTA members and many more.

“It will be representatives from the parent groups at the six elementary buildings. They will recommend two to three names to the board of education, and then the board of education will make the final decision,” Darst said.

She said the board might also consider naming the wings of the school after different things.

“(It will be on the) southwest side of Cedar Falls where Erik Road ends in the Meadows subdivision,” Darst said.

This raises the question of what junior high that students will go to after the new elementary is completed and the new zoning that has to be created.

“The students (in the new school) will be split into Holmes and Peet, depending on address,” Darst said.

So while the kids that go to the original six elementaries  will stay the same, the kids that go to the new one will be separated into the two junior highs.

Now that the plans have been released, many can see that the school is much more extravagant than the other elementary schools in the area.

“When the area in southeast Cedar Falls was being developed, the city and the school district jointly purchased 40 acres in anticipation of enrollment growth in the southwest part of Cedar Falls,” Darst said.

Andrea Christopher, the principal at Orchard Hill, said she is enthused about the expansion.

“In my opinion it is great for our community and school district to be expanding and growing,” Christopher said.

Cedar Falls has grown fast, with new subdivisions going up in what seems like every week.

One of the problems with that is that most of the elementary schools currently have portable classrooms.

“We even had to add a portable this year, which I really don’t like having, so with the new building, I anticipate we will be able to remove the portable,” Kim Cross, the principal at Southdale, said.

But the principals said they don’t think that the growth of Cedar Falls is a bad thing, and, in fact, are excited about adding new kids to the district.

“Hopefully, part of the reason we are growing is because we do have an excellent school system, which I believe is true,” Cross said.

Cross is also hoping that people are moving here because they like living here, and that the Cedar Falls community is welcoming.

Even the kids at Orchard Hill seem to be excited about the new expansion. “The excitement will grow as we start breaking ground and trucks arrive to move dirt,” Christopher said.

So while the high school, junior highs and elementaries are bursting at the seams, the hope for this new school, and the add on to the schools, is to alleviate some of the stress at the elementary level and help in the future generations of growth.

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