WATERLOO — Initial plans for an expanded Waterloo Career Center were approved Monday by the Board of Education.

Officials with InVision Architects presented schematic designs for a two-story renovation on the north end of Central Middle School. Two high school career and technical education programs were launched there last fall, and remodeling is underway to add three more this fall. There is enough unused space at the school for a total of 15 programs.

If plans go forward, four more programs would be added in the fall of 2018 with another six beginning during the next two years. The center, which provides classes in 90-minute blocks, served Waterloo Community Schools’ students this year and will expand to include Cedar Falls High School students for the coming year.

“Over the last three months, we’ve been meeting with the facilities committee,” said architect Brad Leeper, since the board hired InVision to design the plans. The renovation will entail about 74,000 square feet and involve relocating sixth-grade middle school classrooms to another part of the building. A new front entrance will be added for the career center.

Plans show the remodeled space to the east and north of Central’s gymnasium. An office and multipurpose area would be near the front entrance.

Seven hands-on lab spaces of varying sizes would be on the first floor with another eight on the second floor. Leeper said they would be designed to be multipurpose and adaptable. No announcements have been made on what additional programs will be offered at the center.

There would be shared studio classrooms and small group rooms on both floors. Conference rooms and a shared work space would also be on the second floor. Additionally, plans show storage areas, restrooms, laundry and janitorial areas and a mechanical room.

“We’re really going to be digging into the details,” said Leeper. “We have a lot of development to do.”

Construction cost is estimated at $15.6 million. The project budget would include additional costs such as design and testing fees as well as expenses for furniture and equipment.

Bids could be received by the end of the year, Leeper said. Remodeling on the second floor would begin next spring and be completed by the fall.

Michael Coughlin, chief financial officer, noted funding is expected to come from the district’s portion of statewide 1 percent sales tax revenues. “We have that balance and borrowing capacity within that 1-cent stream,” he said.

In February 2016, voters were asked to approve a bond issue to build a stand-alone career center that would have housed 30 programs. After it was defeated, district leaders began looking at creating a scaled-down center with existing funding in current facilities. A task force had studied the issue during the years before the referendum and brought their recommendations to the board.

“This whole effort really started in January 2012, so we’ve been at this for a long time,” said Superintendent Jane Lindaman.

In a related issue, the board approved purchasing nine 70-inch Promethean activPanels at a cost of $32,396 from CDW-G of Vernon Hills, Ill., to replace 9-year-old ActivBoards, largely for remodeled Central sixth-grade classrooms. One of the devices will be used in a new career center classroom. The old ActivBoards will be used for parts.

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Waterloo Schools / HCC Reporter

Education reporter for the Courier

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