Saturday, February 27, 2016

March 1 special board meeting on redistricting

This Tuesday, March 1, the school board will hold a special meeting to hear public comment on the redistricting of attendance zones.

The board has to draw new elementary school boundaries because it plans to open two new elementary schools in 2019—Grant Elementary in the North Corridor and Hoover East Elementary on the far east side of Iowa City. This redistricting may also give the board an opportunity to address some of the overcrowding that is projected to occur under our current boundaries. (By “overcrowding,” I mean situations where projected enrollment will exceed a school’s capacity.)

The elementary redistricting will also affect secondary school assignments. The previous board settled on a secondary feeder plan under which certain elementary schools would feed into certain junior highs, which would then feed into certain high schools. Some of the current board members appear to be interested in reconsidering that feeder plan as part of this redistricting process. But even if the plan stays in place, some people’s secondary destinations will change if they are rezoned into different elementary schools than they currently attend. For example, it’s possible that some families currently in the Wickham attendance area will be rezoned into the new Grant attendance area, which would change their junior high and high school destinations.

The new elementary school zones will take effect in 2019, when Grant and Hoover East open. But the secondary feeder plan, based on those redrawn elementary zones, will take effect in 2017, when Liberty High opens. (See this post.)

At the meeting on Tuesday, members of the public are invited to address the board about their redistricting preferences. We’re expecting that some of the speakers will be speaking on behalf of their neighborhoods, having submitted a neighborhood input form. The board members will have an opportunity to ask questions of the speakers to make sure we understand the input.

More information here.


Anonymous said...

Thank. I hope the board will read and consider emails and ask questions of those who email since not everyone is able to go to a school board meeting.

Can notes be taken and published of what speakers say at this meeting in case someone speaks for a neighborhood that neighborhood members don't agree with?

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for attaching the agenda. I still can't access it from the ICCSD website, but I can access it from your page.

Anonymous said...

Now that we know a new subdivision will be in the Grant area--Scanlon land--how will that affect the FMP and the over-crowding in the North Corridor? Looks like we'll be playing catch up again...

Karen W said...

Thanks for your quick answer to my question earlier. Having looked at the agenda again, I think it should have occurred to me that there should be many more neighborhoods participating in this process. I hope there are many more responses to be posted Monday.

I hope the Board errs on the side of hearing from more rather than fewer people on Tuesday. The meetings must seem awfully long, but I like the community comments. I think it's still true that most people hate public speaking, so it's interesting to hear what people feel so strongly about that they are willing to stand up and speak about it in front of the Board and whatever audience there might be. Plus, unlike e-mails to the Board, it's an opportunity for others of us to hear what people are saying to Board members.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you said some board members are open to reconsider the feeder system. In my opinion, the feeder system is a de-service to the district and the board in our fast growing community and changing neighborhood dynamics. It ties the hands of the board to best use capacity and adjust the makeups of the schools. Any attendance area in and by itself is large enough to include multiple physical neighborhoods, streets and subdivisions. It makes much more sense and much more flexible if you move kids along with their physical neighborhoods and do away with the cumbersome feeder system that is based on a concept that has little to do with real neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

The current feeder system that has Wickham going to NW/West and Kirkwood going to NC/Liberty is an example of great incapacity and injustice of the previous board and must to overturned. Kirkwood kids can see NW from their homes and yet they are bused away to north of I80 to attend NC. A lot of Wickham kids can walk to NC and yet they are bused south to attend NW. The two groups of kids will literally pass each other on 12th Avenue each morning and afternoon in opposite directions. Common sense, please, common sense. It doesn't get any more ridiculous than this!

Then again, Kirkwood kids are offered the option to go to NW, then that really doesn't explain why it is still necessary to have Wickham kids going to NW, does it--except certain board member wanted to move their neighborhood to NW, and avoid going to Liberty. I "applaud" Chris Lynch in a nice maneuver in avoid sending his neighborhoods to Liberty. Lets face it: Liberty is too new and untested. So lets go to West which is good and tested. In order to do that let's play with the feeder system. Right, we have to go to NW in order to go the West. OK then, let's do that. If we have to move some Kirkwood kids around, so be it. Let's move them in the name of SES balancing. Brilliant, Chris. Except all of the Wickham area is right next to Liberty and now they will all ride more than one bus all the way south of I80 to West.

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy seeing people speak for Wickham and miraculously "know" the intentions of board members. Every single Wickham parent I know would be happy to attend NCJH and Liberty but understands the slim chance given the plan to balance the schools. If Wickham parents, including Chris Lynch, say they want to go to Liberty, they are accused to not caring about balance. If Wickham parents say they want to go to West, they are accused trying to avoid Liberty. No win. Every single Wickham parent is just as confused by the decision to move Kirkwood to NCJH and Alexander to NWJH and add activity busses. You forgot to mention Alexander to NWJH. Maybe you were too busy grinding your axe.

Chris said...

Thanks, everyone, for the comments.

Anonymous (2:30) — I’m only one board member, but my view is that this meeting is just one way for people to give input, and certainly not the exclusive way. I assume not everyone who contacted us via email will appear at the meeting, but their emails are still part of the input we need to consider.

Because this is a board meeting, I’m assuming it will be recorded and televised and that minutes of it will be posted on the district website.

Anonymous (6:02) — Yes, North Liberty is projected to keep growing, which is why we need the new elementary school (600 seats) and the planned 175-seat addition to Garner. Part of what will make the redistricting challenging is how to plan for both the short and long term. In the short term, the new capacity at Grant could help us relieve the projected overcrowding at other North Corridor elementary schools. Garner, for example, is projected to be almost 150 students overcrowded even *after* getting its addition, unless we change its attendance area. The other North Corridor schools would also be overcrowded in 2019 by 428 students, unless we shift some of their students to Grant. At the same time, though, if we were to open Grant at its full capacity of 600 students, there would be no room for it to accommodate continued growth in its immediate area. (Some of that expected growth, however, is probably factored into the existing projections.) So we may face the question of just what lengths we should go to to fill Grant, even if we suspect that continued growth will force the board to redraw boundaries again a few years later.

We face some similar questions with Hoover East. It might be hard to fill that school to capacity the year it opens, without redistricting kids who live very close to Lemme and Lucas. Moreover, it might be unwise to fill it to capacity when it opens, because then it couldn’t accommodate continued growth in its immediate area.

Karen — I’m seeing quite a few more input forms coming in via email, so I assume the posted list will grow substantially. I agree completely with your second paragraph.

As for the secondary feeder system, that’s a bigger topic than I can tackle here in this comment. Speaking only for myself, I do think we should revisit the previous board’s decision about feeders. I do also agree with Anonymous (9:22) in that I’m not getting a sense that the preferences of Wickham parents are monolithic in favor of any particular secondary plan.

anonymous said...

The single most important issue for my family is proximity to the schools. When we lived in Tiffin, our children were on a bus for 8 miles each way to Oxford. While I understand the desire to balance SES, the reality is that the district as a whole has far more resources than nearly any other district in Iowa. I voted for the new high school because I thought it would mean that my kids would not have to be on the bus for an hour and a half each day. Our kids our at Van Allen, NCJH, and currently North Liberty. I hope the board does not change those designations.

Anonymous said...

Interesting discussion. As a Wickham parent I support Wickham->NC->Liberty because it simply makes sense. Liberty is so close that it just makes no sense to send our kids all the way down to West. All the talk about SES balancing is nothing more than pretty numbers on paper and does little to help the students at a great cost to the rest of the community.

Chris said...

I just posted some additional thoughts here.

Karen W said...

Looks like a long night. At four minutes each, it's already close to a five hour meeting.

It'd be interesting to see the responding neighborhoods marked on a single district map. Did this approach reach all of the neighborhoods the Board needed to hear from?

Anonymous said...

Unless ICCSD has more feedback coming in, I don't see feedback from the larger apartment buildings, mobile home parks and southeast side of Iowa City. Some middle to upper middle class neighborhoods are responding. The board should look at who is not responding. Chris Lynch's form was confusing and even though another email was sent I almost missed it.

Does look there is support for keeping the current Hoover.

I agree with anonymous at 8:33 am about getting rid of the feeder system.