Waterloo Career Center construction project expanded | Education News

WATERLOO — The scope of the Waterloo Career Center construction project is expanding.

Additional work is now being slated for a three-classroom second-floor space that was to be completed in a later phase. Waterloo Community Schools’ Board of Education recently approved a change order adding $143,477 to project costs, raising the contract’s price tag to $13.34 million. Larson Construction of Independence is the general contractor.

Located at the north end of Central Middle School, the center right now offers concurrent high school and Hawkeye Community College credit courses in nine career and technical education programs.

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The 80,000-square-foot construction project started in January 2018 and will wrap up by this fall, when five more programs are added. The remaining space is expected to be filled with more new programs in the fall of 2020. Initially, though, the space for those final programs was to be left as a “shell” during this phase with plans for use developed later. That area formerly served the middle school as music rooms before the career center opened.

Waterloo Community Schools administrators still don’t know exactly how the space will be used, but they are ready to build in and finish certain aspects. Among those are walls, doors, water service and science tables. Technology capabilities added across the building will also be available there.

“We do know it will have some science connections,” Superintendent Jane Lindaman told the board. “So, running all of that now before they close up the walls will be cheaper” than waiting to add it later. “We would have been spending that money at some point.”

Career classes in areas such as nursing, construction, manufacturing, information technology and digital media are paired with core academic courses in the programs. Students divide time each week in 90-minute block classes between lab spaces and classrooms where they receive more traditional teaching on subjects like math, English and science. Lindaman noted that one of these classrooms with an existing partition lends itself to the dual uses needed for each career area.

In other business, the board approved a $237,000 contract with D.W. Zinser to demolish Longfellow School and the adjacent annex at 233 Edwards St. The Walford company was the lowest of seven bidders on the project. The five next bids ranged from $302,500 to $493,560 with the highest bid coming in at $728,069.

Last month, the board approved a contract to remove asbestos from the building. Officials hope to have it torn down by the end of the school year. Longfellow’s 79-year-old main building hasn’t been used as a school since 2009.

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