Sep. 22—CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids school Superintendent Noreen Bush will resign at the end of this school year.
Bush, who went on medical leave Monday, will remain superintendent of the district during her medical leave and through June 30, 2023, according to a letter to the community Thursday afternoon.
Bush "has turned her focus on her health with a recent medical leave of absence," according to the letter, which said she had submitted her resignation to the board.
Details of a national search to hire her successor will be released later, the letter stated.
"Noreen's leadership combines intellect and compassion, and we are lucky to have the 'Iowa Superintendent of the Year' in our district," board President David Tominsky said in a news release.
"We have all learned from how well she carries herself through school matters, and she has built an amazing team of talented, capable leaders around her," Tominsky said. "Collectively, we continue our dedicated service and support to the Cedar Rapids community as we move forward."
The Cedar Rapids school board unanimously approved a three-year contract with Bush in February 2020. She is the first woman to serve as superintendent in and is likely one of the highest paid superintendents in the state with a salary of $270,746 this school year.
District officials have not responded to a question posed by The Gazette last week asking who will be responsible for day-to-day decisions while Bush is one medical leave.
Bush was diagnosed with cancer two-and-a-half years ago while serving as superintendent of the 16,700-student school district.
Shortly after her tenure began, Bush led the district through the monthlong closure — and a move to online learning — forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And then the derecho hit Aug. 10, 2020, damaging every school in the district just before classes were to start. Bush led Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds through the hardest-hit high school — Kennedy High — where students continued to learn remotely until Jan. 19, 2021, when repairs were completed.
Under her leadership, the school board worked for more than a year to revise a contract for school resource officers — police — in the district's middle and high schools. The school board in August finalized a contract with the city to remove the officers from district middle schools, which the city opposed but accepted. The move is expected to reduce the disparity in charges between white and Black students, a process started by student advocates.
Bush is leading as the district is planning to ask voters, perhaps in March, to approve a $312 million general obligation bond to pay for renovations, additions and improvements at the district's middle schools and four high schools over the next seven to 10 years. The bonds also would pay for a new 1,200-student middle school, reducing the number of middle schools in the district from six to four, and for a new aquatic center.
A facility master plan also is underway that updates the district's elementary schools. Maple Grove Elementary School — which replaces the former Jackson Elementary School — is the most recent to open.
The next steps in the plan include building a new elementary school on the annex of Arthur Elementary School and combining the Arthur and Garfield elementary attendance zones.
The Harrison and Madison elementary attendance zones also will be combined by fall 2025 under this plan. District officials are still considering how to do this, including renovating the existing Harrison building or building on the Madison property.
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