WATERLOO — Space concerns could be a roadblock to locating all Cedar Valley Catholic Schools’ students on a single campus.
Two options presented to the Board of Education Tuesday by Struxture Architects would include closing all three Waterloo elementaries and bringing students to a new building at the middle/high school site on West Ninth Street.
But it would be a tight squeeze, architects said, causing the loss of 50 parking spaces or a change in athletic fields.
“If we relocated the baseball diamond there could be space for a school there,” said Struxture’s Jane Miller. The diamond is east of the football field along Hammond Avenue.
WATERLOO — One or more of Cedar Valley Catholic Schools’ elementary buildings may be closed …
Another option would move eighth-graders into Columbus High School and fifth-graders into the Blessed Maria Assunta Pallotta Middle School, where an addition would be built for remaining elementary students.
“We are showing it squeezed in, attached to the existing school,” said Miller. About 50 parking spaces would be lost to the addition.
“Having that parking disappear,” said CVCS Chief Administrator Dale Monroe, would be “a nightmare” when activities are going on at the schools. “We’re just a tight campus.”
The options are part of a 109-page report by Struxture looking at consolidating the elementary schools.
It was posted on the CVCS website Monday and will be discussed at the board’s 5:30 p.m. meeting Thursday. The work session was a chance for the board to get an initial look at the report and go through it with architects. Thursday’s board meeting will take place in the commons at the middle school, 3225 W. Ninth St.
In April, the board commissioned the report as it looks to sustain the Waterloo-based school system into the future. The report includes four possible options to consolidate the schools and other recommendations for renovating each of the three existing elementary buildings.
It looks at physical conditions of the elementary school sites and their accessibility, security and life safety plus the presence of hazardous materials if renovations occur. The report also considers current enrollment and student capacity for each building.
Across the system there is a trend of declining enrollment. The number of students in preschool through 12th-grade went from 1,011 in the fall of 2013 to 908 in the fall of 2017.
All five CVCS schools are below their capacity. “For the amount of square feet that you have for all of your buildings, you can house 1,443 (students) and you currently have 825,” said Miller. At the elementary schools, St. Edward has 226 students, Blessed Sacrament has 92 and Sacred Heart has 109.
Monroe said displacing parking on the secondary campus with a new addition is the “least likely option” in the report.
A few board members around the table, though, were more willing to look at relocating some parking if elementary students were moved there. Suggestions were made to move parking to a current practice field or place additional space near the softball field.
Board president Mark Sinnwell suggested a hybrid of two options: Move the fifth- and eighth-graders to the middle and high school and then renovate one of the three elementary schools for the other students.
One of the options board members were presented with would renovate St. Edward and Blessed Sacrament schools. Another would renovate and add onto Blessed Sacrament. Each option includes closing the land-locked Sacred Heart School on West Fifth Street, with the report noting it is not recommended for expansion.
Miller said Blessed Sacrament, at 600 Stephan Ave. near Falls and University avenues, is the most ideal elementary school location for an addition. “It has a lot of green space there,” she said. “It’s in a nice neighborhood.”
St. Edward’s location along Mitchell Avenue has some positives, as well. “From a site standpoint, it’s in a nice neighborhood,” said Miller. “You have a nice campus here, a lot of green space.”
However, the building has so many levels that achieving Americans with Disabilities Act compliance in a renovation would be excessively expensive. It would require installing more than one elevator, according to Miller.
An alternate to building on the Columbus baseball diamond is demolishing the existing St. Edward School and building a new elementary on that site.
The estimated cost of the four options range from $11.84 million for a renovation and addition at Blessed Sacrament to $15.41 million for a renovation of St. Edward and Blessed Sacrament. The addition at the middle school would cost $12.98 million and building a stand-alone new school would cost $13.42 million.