WATERLOO — The Central Middle School property is growing, thanks to park land being traded for the former Edison Elementary site.

The Board of Education on Monday approved exchanging the 6.9-acre Edison property for 10 acres of Miriam’s Park adjacent to Central. Edison was located at Falls Avenue and Magnolia Parkway. Following approval of the agreement by the Waterloo City Council, the city will take possession of the property for future residential development and use for a neighborhood park.

“It is land adjacent to Memorial Stadium and it is grass,” said board member Shanlee McNally.

“We don’t necessarily have purposes for that land, but it keeps it open in the future,” said Superintendent Jane Lindaman. She did note the Waterloo Career Center is being developed in a portion of the Central building.

Edison was demolished in 2016, five years after it closed and a new elementary school was built in another location. Lindaman said Waterloo Community Schools does have a protocol for getting rid of unneeded land. Among those are selling it as-is, demolishing the building to make parcels more marketable and exchanging land with another governmental entity.

“We have tried on numerous occasions, I guess, to dispose of that property,” she said.

Board member Sue Flynn referenced a pledge made by Waterloo Schools’ officials to ensure no former schools remain standing indefinitely if a new use isn’t found for them.

“I just want to commend the district for sticking with its word,” she said. “The city can move forward and the neighborhood association is very, very happy about this.”

In other business, the board approved a resolution supporting Iowa public education in response to a potential bill creating educational savings accounts. Rather than letting per pupil state aid be used to pay for tuition when a student goes to a private school, the Legislature “should continue to promote and fully invest in Iowa’s public schools,” says the resolution.

It notes school choice options already exist in the state, nonpublic schools are not held to the same standard of transparency as public, and public schools accept and educate all students. It suggests policymakers should continue to promote existing “cooperation and the collaborative environment” between public and private schools.

A number of board members commented on the need to speak out on the issue. Board member Jesse Knight said the legislation could “cripple” the district’s ability to meet the needs of its children.

“It just worries me that we’re going down a path that would make it even more difficult for these children,” he said.

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Waterloo Schools / HCC Reporter

Education reporter for the Courier

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