The Waterloo School District plans to replace an aging elementary school after part of the building's roof collapsed under the weight of heavy snow last year.

In a news release, Superintendent Jane Lindaman announced late Tuesday that a new Lowell Elementary School will be built on the existing site at 1628 Washington Street (U.S. Highway 218). District officials expect the new building to open by August 2021.

Lindaman said students and staff will continue using the alternate site at the former Area Education Agency 267 Conference Center in Cedar Falls until the new school is built. According to Lindaman, structural engineers have determined the existing Lowell structure is unsafe to occupy and repairs to meet building codes would require a near rebuild of the school.

Records show that Lowell was constructed in 1931 and renovated in 2005.

The district is moving forward with plans to build a new school, despite not settling a claim with its insurance company. Lindaman said district officials and EMC of Des Moines have been negotiating on the assessed value for the damaged school for nearly year, but the two sides haven't reached an agreement. The dispute will likely be settled in court.

Dr. Jane Lindaman / Courtesy: Waterloo School District
Dr. Jane Lindaman / Courtesy: Waterloo School District

“We are enacting our rights under our policy and pursuing legal options,” said Lindaman in the release. “We can wait no longer. Lowell students need a home.”

Lindaman said the district was promised repeatedly by the insurance company to meet deadlines to reach a decision, but when the latest date of Dec. 31 came and went with no financial commitment from EMC, the district decided to proceed with the project and pursue legal action.

"We are going to build a brand new school and at the same time work to resolve the insurance impasse,” she stated.

Lindaman said district officials pursued other options for the project, which included finding space in existing schools and looking at other locations. They determined that building a new school was the best way to resolve a tough situation. The plan allows Lowell students and staff to stay together.

“We are grateful for the patience on the part of the students, staff and families," Lindaman said. "We plan to move forward as quickly as possible."

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