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An architect’s drawing of the proposed new entrance to the Waterloo Career Center.

COURTESY PHOTO

WATERLOO — Bids are being sought for the next phase of remodeling at the Waterloo Career Center.

The Board of Education on Monday approved the project, which allowed Waterloo Community Schools to begin seeking the bids. The center, which has served students from all of Waterloo’s high schools since opening last year, is located at the north end of Central Middle School.

Bids are expected to return to the board Dec. 12 for approval with the project completed over the next two years. That would allow the number of high school career and technical education programs at the center to grow from five currently to 15 or 16 by the fall of 2020, said Superintendent Jane Lindaman.

“We are really, really close to announcing the four programs that we will start next fall,” she noted, once the first part of the construction is completed.

“Basically, we have about 80,000 square feet of renovated space and new area,” said Brad Leeper of Invision Architects, which is designing the project. The new area will be the entrance to the center. Renovation work will include two floors at the school.

He said the revised estimate for construction is $13.9 million. With additional costs such as furniture, design and testing, the total estimated price tag for the project is $17.4 million.

“From a contractor point of view, this should be a very desirable project,” added Leeper. It is scheduled to start during the winter, a slower time of year for contractors.

Michael Coughlin, the district’s chief financial officer, said the project will be paid for out of 1 percent sales tax revenues, which “does not use all of our money up to 2029,” when the statewide tax is currently scheduled to end. He said there is “still a lot of funds available” for future infrastructure needs, even with that expense.

The center was opened after a bond issue referendum to build a larger stand-alone career center failed last year. Lindaman said the center was located at Central because it was originally built for 1,200 high school students. Currently, the space is under-utilized with around 500 students enrolled in the middle school portion.

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Waterloo Schools / HCC Reporter

Education reporter for the Courier

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