A new high school facility would PROVIDE:
Over the last several years, the Cedar Falls School District and School Board have been evaluating the needs of the current high school facility and have engaged community members in finding sustainable solutions to those needs. Here is some history and additional background information.
High School Facility Needs:
The high school opened in 1954 and while the district has worked hard to keep up with maintenance, the building has issues that are no longer cost effective to fix. Here’s a list of some of the most concerning:
Safety and Security
The high school does not have many of the security features that most schools do. Secure entrances are a large concern, however, not the only concern. Access to the site is a problem with parking challenges and line of sight issues for those who cross intersections in front of the building. The building has had 13 additions that prevent one secure entrance and spaces that seem fragmented from one another.
Equity and Accessibility
There are limitations for special needs students, those with disabilities and also senior citizens who attend events. Public schools have obligations with respect to complying with the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, passed in 1975 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, approved in 1990. The building built in 1954 served students and the public well years ago is no longer equitable.
The high school will be over capacity by the 2019-2020 school year. This summer, a portable trailer was installed on site to mitigate overcrowding temporarily. The district is projected to grow by about 1,000 students in the next decade. More space is necessary today than what was essential years ago. Many programs we currently offer in the high school building did not exist in the 1970’s or 80’s. This includes, but is not limited to, more than 20 sections of classes to support and teach students with special needs, more than 70 classes of college-level credit, multiple sections of computer, coding and Project Lead the Way.
HVAC and Efficiencies
The high school is not energy efficient and lacks many items that allow for the adoption of new curriculum and best teaching practices. There is little to no air flow in multiple areas of the building which creates unproductive learning spaces and also safety concerns. On hot days, condensation can build up on the floors, producing a hazard. Electrical demand in the building has increased by 350% since the building was built and the infrastructure is not there to support this demand.
The Cedar Falls Community School District is a fantastic district with high student achievement. That said, we cannot rest on our laurels. In some ways, our high school students and staff have been doing great things despite the facilities available to them. That’s not something we can bank on forever as we prepare our students for being college and career ready. Our high school facility must meet the same high standards we have for our students and staff, along with our academic and extracurricular programs.
The school district has been a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars in maintaining its current facilities. In fact, the district has earned a AA credit rating and has the third lowest tax rate of the largest 25 schools districts in Iowa. However, we are at a point at which we cannot delay addressing the high school’s major facility needs any longer.
After years of careful consideration, planning and public engagement sessions, the School Board believes it’s time to build a new high school at a location west of the UNI Dome on 27th Street. This solution would also involve moving the administration building and Information Technology to the old high school building, along with partnering with the City of Cedar Falls and other entities to repurpose the current high school. The current administration building, located off 1st Street, and Information Technology building, located off Cedar Heights Drive, would both be sold.
Compare CFHS to other high schools.
Articles/videos on changing facility needs in education.