Closure of Northern Iowa lab school will not affect ISU lab school

Kiana Roppe

The Iowa Board of Regents approved a motion to close the University of Northern Iowa’s Malcolm Price Laboratory School on Monday after a recommendation from UNI President Benjamin Allen. The Board voted 8 to 1, and Robert Downer abstained due to legal concerns.

The Malcolm Price Laboratory School at Northern Iowa teaches around 400 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. It has provided extensive learning and teaching opportunities to UNI education students.

“The financial constraints, combined with current best-practices and research that support realistic and diverse field experiences for education students, make it necessary to recommend the closing of the school by June 30, 2012,” Allen said on the UNI website. 

At the board meeting Monday, Allen explained plans to relocate the K-12 students to the Cedar Fall and Waterloo districts. The UNI students also will be moving to the surrounding schools when they work to fulfill the experience requirements that were traditionally finished at the lab school.

The lab school has been an important part of Northern Iowa’s education program since the mid-1900s and as such, students and community members have expressed great concern for the change. The board realized that concerns will remain beyond its decision, but it expressed optimism for the future of the UNI education programs.

“We are at a critical point for UNI,” said Board of Regents President Craig Lang. “The board has full confidence in President Allen.”

Similarly, Iowa State has a Child Development Laboratory School within the College of Human Sciences. The difference is that Iowa State’s lab school is for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. This is where university students are able to learn valuable skills to help prepare them for a career working with young children.

David Whaley, associate dean for the College of Human Sciences, said the closing at Northern Iowa will have no effect on the lab school at Iowa State. This is because Iowa State’s lab school is smaller and appropriately funded.

“The Child Development Laboratory School at Iowa State is truly an asset to the university community as well as the general community,” Whaley said. “It is recognized as an integral part of the department of human development and family studies and the College of Human Sciences.”

The Price Lab School is set to close at the end of the current school year in June and Allen will provide an update for the board on how the plans are progressing at the April 26 board meeting.