The school board is beginning the process of drawing new elementary attendance zones in anticipation of opening two new elementary schools in 2019. We’re drawing them now because, even though those elementaries won’t open until 2019, they could affect the attendance zones for junior high students as of 2017 or even as of next year.
The board has invited public input on attendance zones. You can provide your thoughts via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by attending our public hearing on the issue on March 1 at 6:00 p.m. at the Educational Services Center, or by speaking at public comment before one of our board meetings. The board won’t be able to accommodate everyone’s preferences, but they are certainly a factor we should take into account.
The board also posted a “neighborhood input” form, which you can use, if you’d like, to aggregate the comments of people in your neighborhood (however you choose to define your neighborhood). I’m not crazy about the form, because it seems to require a degree of organization and agreement that I think many people would not have the energy for, and I worry that it could function as a barrier to participation. But it’s just one way to provide input; you can always use a simple email if you’d rather.
Some in the Hoover neighborhood have wondered how they should provide input. The board’s current plan is to draw districts that would eliminate the Hoover attendance zone, since the current plan is to close the school in 2019. Hoover area residents want to have input into the rezoning process, but many of them do not want to be perceived as approving of the closure itself. How should they express their input?
I don’t think Hoover area residents should pass up the opportunity to provide input into the districting process. The board is well aware that many people (there and elsewhere) oppose the closure. Feel free to tell the board that “Old” Hoover is your first preference, but then go ahead and identify your second and third (and even fourth) preferences. You can do that with a simple email or by using the neighborhood input form.
This public input process is not intended to measure support for the closure, but just to enable the board to draw up a zoning plan. The fact is: we don’t know whether Hoover will close. Three of the seven current board members (including me) oppose the closure. This board or the next one (with three seats to be filled in 2017) could decide to reverse the closure decision. In fact, the difficulty of drawing workable attendance zones without Hoover could provide another occasion for revisiting the decision. Either way, it will be helpful to know what people’s preferences are when it comes to attendance zones.
You’re most likely to be affected by this rezoning if you live in the areas near the two elementaries that will open in 2019. Grant Elementary will be in the North Corridor (map here); “Hoover East” will be on the far east side of Iowa City (map here). But it’s hard to know what the ripple effects might be; it’s a good idea to provide input no matter where you live. The current elementary school attendance zone map is here.
If you’re going to send input, it would be best do it by March 1.