Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Board reinstates secondary boundary plan

As expected, the board voted tonight to reinstate the previous board’s secondary feeder plan, which would send Kirkwood-area students to Liberty High and Alexander-area students to West High. At the junior high level, Kirkwood will be assigned to North Central but students will be allowed to choose Northwest instead; Alexander will be assigned to Northwest but will be allowed to choose South East instead, though they will not receive a bus to South East. Board members LaTasha DeLoach, Brian Kirschling, Chris Lynch, and Paul Roesler voted for that plan; board members Phil Hemingway, Lori Roetlin, and I voted against it. My reasons for voting against it are stated more fully here, here, here, and here. Here are my comments on this issue at the meeting tonight:

Well, I think we all know how these votes are going to go, more or less. We had an election this summer in which this issue played a big role, and I’m happy to let the democratic process take its course and decide this issue. And we need decide it now and move forward.

That doesn’t mean I have to agree with it, though. Once upon a time I was elected too, and when I ran I said: “We should pay special attention to the needs of disadvantaged students and their families. In my view, those families are the best judges of what those needs are. We should seek out their advice and bring it to bear on district policy.”

I don’t think we’ve done that on this issue, and I don’t have any confidence that the kids in the Kirkwood and Alexander areas will be better off as a result of the board’s decisions tonight. I also think the board has its head in the sand about the capacity problems at Liberty that this decision will cause. It’s only a matter of time before someone suggests we move Van Allen back to West High because Liberty doesn’t have enough space—which would entail even more busing costs at the expense of class size.

I’m not a person who thinks there are no benefits from creating socioeconomically diverse environments in our schools when we can do that without creating hardships for families that are struggling economically. The strongest evidence for those benefits is at the elementary level, but I don’t doubt there are benefits to some degree at the secondary level as well.

But to me it’s a bad sign when many—not all, but many—of the people arguing that we need to diversify our high schools—including some of the people sitting up here—happen to live in elementary attendance areas that are very white, largely well off, with very low-free-and-reduced-price lunch (FRL) rates, but don’t seem to think we need to do anything at all about that, even though we have much, much larger socioeconomic disparities between our elementary schools than we do between our high schools. Many of those people didn’t object at all—or even expressed support—this past May when this board adopted elementary attendance areas that made those disparities even bigger.

There are things that we can do to create more socioeconomic balance in our elementary schools—things that wouldn’t even require more busing, which wouldn’t create the kind of burdens that these secondary boundaries will create, and which would probably even save the district money over time and help prevent outlier class sizes. For example, the paired schools concept, which could help lower the FRL concentrations we now have at schools like Twain and Mann by pairing them with lower-FRL schools. There are also boundary alterations we could make to even out FRLs without much disruption—for example, keeping the Breckenridge trailer court at Lemme, where they’ve gone for years, instead of redistricting them to Hoover East, and then moving the part of Lemme that’s east of Scott Boulevard to new Hoover instead.

Many of these relatively straightforward opportunities for elementary balance are on the east side of Iowa City, which, in the election, most strongly supported the candidate who argued for socioeconomic balance at the secondary level.

If the board goes ahead with a plan to bus kids from low-income families around to create balance at the secondary level, but shows no interest or urgency about the less burdensome, less costly ways of generating some balance at the elementary level, where it probably matters more, people will have every reason to think that this vote isn’t about diversity or equity, it’s about “Send those kids someplace else. Someplace other than the school where my kids go.”

And if we say, “those elementary changes are too controversial to talk about right before a bond vote, we should wait until a better time,” when we didn’t say that about busing Alexander and Kirkwood, that should bother us. Let’s put those topics on our agenda now.


Chris said...

After I spoke, my fellow board member Brian Kirschling said that it was inaccurate for me to say that the elementary boundary plan adopted in May had not made progress in achieving socioeconomic balance at the elementary level. He pointed to the decision to move the Forest View trailer court from Mann (which is projected to go from 48 to 19 FRL) to Lincoln (which is projected to go from 7 to 41 FRL).

I’d make two points in response. First, my point was that it shouldn’t be “balance for them but not for us.” No one on the board lives in the Lincoln attendance zone. Three of four board members who voted for the secondary balance plan live in Shimek, Wickham, and Lemme, which will be three of the lowest FRL schools in the district. All three of those schools are projected to have even lower FRL rates under the new boundaries than they have now.

Second, look at the distribution of FRL rates last year under the current elementary boundaries:


Now look at the projected distribution under the new elementary plan:


You be the judge of whether the new boundaries made progress on achieving socioeconomic balance.

Chris said...

That said, I want to acknowledge that board member Paul Roesler has supported keeping the Breckenridge trailer court at Lemme (his own attendance area). That's a change we should consider making sooner rather than later.

doesn't make sense said...

Why wasn't Shimek included in the redistricting of Mann and Lincoln? It seems like they could have been more equally balanced if this had done.

Anonymous said...

Love this post-thank you for your consistency and honesty. Those of us who have paid attention these last few years know what the true motivation is for this decision-and it's not SES balance. As a former early childhood teacher, your post is accurate. If we really want to see results, we would begin and the elementary level.

Frank said...

Chris - thank you for making this blog - I really enjoy reading your honest commentary and opinions (and I tend to agree with almost everything you are saying). It really helps us try to figure out what is really going on - and it is pretty sad to say the least. Thanks again and keep the posts coming - we are reading them!

Anonymous said...

The East Side Mafia (ESM) is trying to keep Iowa City schools as low FRL % and as white as possible to protect Iowa City. Now that they control the iccsd school board they can push their agenda. They are doing this at the expense of moving low FRL kids around to keep them out of their schools - and pretending like they are doing this to balance FRL %. Yes - FRL % are changing, but as Chris proves here they are not really balancing them out - simply shifting a low(er) FRL % to a different chosen school that they want to protect. Shimek is never discussed in balancing FRL % and Mann appears to be a school that they want to get to low FRL status. I am not sure who is pulling the strings behind the scene - if it is Murley or Lynch/Kirschling, or wealthy people in Iowa City. IC schools are quickly falling way behind other schools in Iowa and falling even more nationally and things keep spiraling down. It is obvious why so many transfer out of iccsd. I have serious doubts about bond passing.

EDJ said...

1. No board member currently lives in the Twain, Wood, Alexander or Hills zones either, or in Longfellow, which is the only non-high poverty school near those schools. Will you also characterize efforts to desegregate those schools as "balance for them and not for us?"

Anonymous said...

This "who lives where" argument highlights the first inkling of a problem that I noticed when we moved here 2 yrs ago. Every other school district I've been involved with was divided into districts with a board representative elected from each district. Everyone had a voice fighting for them. We are set up for failure, for "us versus them", for "balance for them, not us" by the very way the board is set up.

EDJ said...

Anon above: " If we really want to see results, we would begin and the elementary level."--

Efforts to do something began at the elementary level in 2003-2004, and some people who support the secondary balanced boundaries have been fighting for elementary balance since then. Even limiting it to more recent efforts, the Diversity Policy, which would have mandated that this be done, was passed in 2013. Chris and the people currently insisting that we need to do elementary balance first were nowhere to be found when we were fighting to pass it, working to re-elect candidates who would keep it in place, fighting disinformation campaigns about its effects, attending public meetings and supporting its implementation. Nowhere to be found.

Paul Roesler was involved in these efforts, as were directors Kirschling and Lynch. Kirschling ran for board as a supporter of the DP and efforts to desegregate elementary schools. Lynch did not run as a supporter of the DP, but as a board member and as president, worked to implement it and worked to carry its principals over to subsequent boundary decisions after its rescinding was engineered by community and board members opposed to it.

Secondary boundaries had to be done now because we have a high school to open. One of the upshots from the battles over the diversity policy was that there is widespread community resistance to boundary changes that are not tied to necessary events like building openings. The boundaries set in 2015 took advantage of the need to open LIberty to set balanced secondary boundaries for the entire district. Undoing this, and claiming that it was motivated by the need to do elementary first after doing nothing to support previous attempts to integrate elementary schools, with the opening of Liberty fast approaching, was disningenuous at best. If I were as inclined to speculate about motives as anon and director Liebig are, I'd be inclined to suggest that this is actually all related to efforts to keep the old Hoover building open, which is really all that Director Liebig, from his perch in the nice, white middle-class neighborhood of Bel Air, has ever really shown any concern for.

EDJ said...

"You be the judge of whether the new boundaries made progress on achieving socioeconomic balance."

The new elementary boundaries are a mixed bag at best and will need some work. Note though that the previous ones have 5 schools over 70% FRL (one nearly 80%), and one close to it at 68%. The new ones have 4 over 70% (all of which are a little lower than their previous numbers) and one at 68%. Given that the underlying geographical problem is a concentration of high poverty schools clustered together, even this little movement is some good news. Keep in mind that the FRL rates at these schools have been going the other direction, at a fairly dramatic pace, for the last decade or more. This might be worth focusing on more than what changes in zones where particular board members happen to live, because its at these schools where the help is needed most, and its this area that is the knottiest to untangle.

Secondary boundaries have the potential to affect the demographics of multiple elementary schools. If the secondary plan is set up in such a way that it encourages white flight and affluent migration to any of the three corners of the district, then it is likely to increase disparities. Now that the large-scale, long-term threat to balance and demographic stability has been addressed, we can turn our attention to making progress on the elementary level.

EDJ said...

If Director Liebig is sincere in his new found commitment to elementary balance, I think he'll be surprised to find out how many of his public supporters who were loudly saying "do elementary first" will find plenty of reasons not to support elementary balance once something is on the table that affects them. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

I think you will be surprised to find how many supporters of the diversity policy will find plenty of reasons not to support elementary balance once something is on the table that affects them. We will see.

Chris said...

EDJ — You’ve misrepresented my position. I never argued that we should undo the secondary feeder plan because elementary had to be done first. In fact, I argued that we should not have settled the elementary plan so quickly, partly because doing so would preclude considering things like paired schools that could yield some balance. I opposed the secondary feeder plan for the reasons I explained in several prior posts — primarily because I am afraid that it will make kids from two of our highest-FRL areas worse off. I still think that.

I opposed the Diversity Plan because I did not think it made sense to set numerical targets no matter what reaching those targets might end up entailing. I still think that.

I opposed the Hoover closure because it’s a bad idea on about ten different levels. I still think that. I am not at all attached to the current Hoover boundaries, and would be happy to consider ways to diversify it if it stays open.

I know you disagree with those positions, and I know that you’ve been consistent about asking for elementary balancing, and that you’re not the only one. But somehow the balance proposals that actually succeed are the ones that would take FRL out of the east side, and not the (less costly and burdensome) ones that might actually make shifts within the east side elementaries. Unless the board is willing to look at those proposals, too, I think it’s reasonable for people to wonder what’s really driving the decisions.

Bren- said...

As a parent, I am so frustrated and betrayed by the board decision. I am fighting for the voluntary transfer to City High, but from what I have heard, there has been a talk about not allowing the transfers in the first year the new boundaries are in effect which will be a bad thing because my daughter will be in the first year of high school this fall.

Anonymous said...

Chris - I know that North Lincoln is still currently set to go to the new Grant elementary location across from Liberty. At this time there is speculation that this will not open as planned and the elementary near the new Cedar Springs area will open first. Where would be options that current North Lincoln would go to? Existing Lincoln would no longer have space and I don't believe other closer schools have capacity either. I am guessing the boundaries would all need to be adjusted to accomodate shifting North Liberty boundaries around. Any ideas? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Chris, thanks for your honest comments. It's unfortunate that voting no on the bond may be the only way to get some common sense into ICCSD management. (unless you can get 4 votes to not renew the superintendant's contract)

Chris said...

Anonymous (11:36): That's a bridge the board will have to cross when it comes to it; I wouldn't feel comfortable predicting what the other board members might do. Penn is almost certainly one of the options that would be on the table, which would have the advantage of not creating a secondary-path change. I still have doubts about whether it's a good idea to switch kids from Iowa City elementaries (where we have capacity) to North Corridor elementaries (where there's a real capacity crunch and where new capacity adds to the amount we would have to borrow in a bond), so I would want to at least consider leaving North Lincoln at Lincoln Elementary but then allowing them to split off from the rest of Lincoln after sixth grade and proceed on to NCJH and Liberty. To create space at Lincoln, we could put the Peninsula back at Mann, which would also open up a paired-school balancing opportunity between Mann and Shimek that would require virtually no new busing. But I know the split feeder idea is also a big obstacle for people, so I have no idea whether enough people would be on board for keeping North Lincoln at Lincoln in that way.

Anonymous said...

So here are some of the largest FRL % changes the under the new boundaries:

Mann 48.4% to 19.1%
Wickham 15.3% to 1.9%
Lucas 61.1% to 48.6%
Lemme 27.4% to 21.3%
Shimek 16.5% to 11.6%

While at the same time many of the highest FRL % schools are relatively unchanged:

Wood 74.7% to 71.9%
Kirkwood 73.8% to 71.1%
Hills 75.5% to 75.0%
Alexander 74.1% to 75.7%

Twain does go down under the new plan:
Twain 78.9% to 68.4%

The numbers can't be refuted. Now that the Power 4 have control expect more of the same and there isn't much we can do about it. The white get whiter and the rich get richer - all under the guise of trying to balance SES of course.

Anonymous said...

This district is a mess and we are falling behind. Correcting for all of this FRL nonsense is going to take years. First thing is getting this school board away from Roesler, Lynch, Kirschling and DeLoach. Claussen was close but we need more! West and North siders, there is work to be done.

Anonymous said...

Lynch lives in Wickham and his kids attended West. Liebig and Hemmingway are east siders. Nielson, the NL Mayor, supported Roesler, as did many else in that area along with the West High voting site.

Thus, not sure its an issue of geography as you make it out to be. Also, our schools still test and rank among the highest in the state (usually top 1-3 for high schools)so I am not sure what data you have to support your claim "we are falling behind."

AJA said...

EDJ, you seem a bit sanctimonious when it comes to having a change of heart. I recall a discussion regarding the Special Ed noncompliance issue in which you felt the "one registered republican" on the board needed to go, yet a short time later you were a very vocal supporter of a republican school board candidate and suddenly party affiliation had no place in school board elections.
I know you have been fairly consistent in your positions regarding school issues, and you have often acknowledged that there are possibly more than one way to look at an issue, however, you and those you support aren't the only ones who have paid attention, gotten involved and remained consistent in how to approach issues in the district. When you say people who agree with Chris would change their tune if it were their schools that would change is really condescending. Frankly I think most of this district suffers from NIMBY. It is reflex. Sure, there would be some that would not like the change, and they might be quite vocal. They do not necessarily represent the majority.
To say that Chris and others weren't around or actively engaged in socio-economic diversity is disingenuous at best and simply untrue at worst. Because we didn't support that particular policy and those candidates does not mean that we didn't support diversity.
I would also add that there are those on the board who voted to change the secondary boundaries last night are closely tied to The Beacon of Iowa City who tout "protecting our neighborhoods".

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:17 - Interesting your examples are Lynch, Liebig, Hemmingway and Nielson (not even on the board). I think those that are a concern are:

Lynch - Wickham
Kirschling - Shimek
Roesler - Lemme

Note that all three of these live in some of the lowest FRL % elementary areas and they are changing boundaries of those to to be much lower while schools at greater than 70% remain virtually unchanged. How does that work?

I believe that Hemmingway and Liebig both would go to old Hoover, Roetlin - Coralvile Central and Deloach - Alexander. I am not 100% sure on those.

Looking at a website like schooldigger.com iccsd is ranked towards the lowest third overall and if you compare against school districts of similar size it is near the bottom. Looking at historical elementary data results have gone down over the years. To be honest I haven't spent a ton of time analyzing the data and I don't know what metrics go into these so I could be incorrect.

Chris said...

One note on Hoover: If the supporters of the 2015 plan had come to me in March and said, “Listen, if you’ll agree not to mess with the boundary plan, we’ll agree to keep Hoover open,” I would not have taken that deal. I told my Hoover friends that at the time. Not that I’m against deals and compromises, which are often how things get accomplished politically, but that’s not one I could have accepted. I never made that proposal to anyone, and nobody made it to me. To my knowledge, every board member treated the secondary boundaries issues as too important for that kind of horse-trading and tried to do what they thought was best for the students.

When I ran, a lot of people argued that I was a one-issue candidate (even though I had been blogging about school issues for years before anyone suggested closing Hoover). After I got elected, my wife said to me, “They’re going to wish you were a one-issue candidate.” I think I’ve lived up to that comment over the past year.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I agree with Anonymous 11:39. No one wants to vote against the schools but a failed bond may be what is needed to wake up this administration. The dishonest and non-transparent RPS is still fresh in many voters minds - something I voted for and regret. Also, where is this nonsense coming from that the bond can't pass if the FMP is altered? Another scare tactic?

Chris said...

Bren — The board spent a lot of time last night talking about the voluntary transfer issue. We didn’t vote on the issue, but I do think we reached consensus on at least some aspects of it. I have to be very careful trying to summarize, because I don’t want to speak for other board members before we’ve actually settled anything with a vote. But, for what it’s worth, it sounded to me like there was some support for saying that voluntary transfers into City would be open to Alexander-area students on the same basis that they are open to other students, subject to available capacity at City, even in 2017. The administration was at least of the view that the existing practice about not allowing transfers out during the first year applies only to students moving to newly constructed schools, not to students being redistricted to an existing school, and so wouldn’t apply to Alexander.

There was some disagreement about whether voluntary transfers should also be subject to not allowing West’s capacity to fall below a specific percentage. This could be a real issue for Alexander, because the administrative proposal was to prohibit transfers out of a school if they would cause its enrollment to fall below 85% of its capacity. The age-progressions that we’ve seen make it look likely that West will be below that threshold in 2017, in which case there could be no voluntary transfers out. I didn’t get any sense of what the consensus was on that issue.

Even if Alexander families are eligible to apply for voluntary transfers, that wouldn’t be exactly the same as giving Alexander school choice at the high school level, since voluntary transfers would still be subject to capacity and would have to be rationed (I assume by lottery) if applications exceeded available seats. And unless we change it, the “can’t transfer out in the first year” rule would apply to Kirkwood students who are freshmen and sophomores in 2017, since they’re being moved to a newly built school. I didn’t come away from the discussion with the impression that there were four votes for giving outright school choice to Alexander and Kirkwood students at the high school level in the way that they will have at the junior high level, though I could be misreading that.

I hope that’s an accurate recounting. Again, until it’s settled, nothing is final, so you shouldn’t take anything for granted and you should continue to advocate for your position. I believe we are shooting to settle the issue at our next board meeting.

Anonymous said...

My one (admittedly selfish, but also practical) request is that the decisions made about 2017 for North Wickham (as I can't speak for others) going to Grant be allowed to stand until the school is actually under construction. Or at the very least, if there is reconsideration, it happen prior to the voluntary transfer deadline. It's such an unnecessary safety concern to send a 14 or 15 year old with a school permit past Liberty to West. The reality is, at the secondary level, that if you want to be fully involved, a student will be there before and after school. That is a challenge for every demographic of parent if the school is multiple miles further away when it doesn't need to be.

I think it does make more sense to balance the schools at the elementary level and have split feeders from elementary to Jr High. It gets a lot harder from Jr High to High School, unless it's voluntary. Sure, some may think I'm saying that because I'm not in that place anymore. Fair, but I have been there and have the benefit of hindsight (with one special education student). Another point - if you're going to spend the money to bus, I believe our dollars are much more likely to be actually used at the elementary level. Despite my High Schooler opting out of busing, I still get a letter about bus location each year. Do we pay for those empty seats?

On a positive note - Embrace the diversity and growth opportunities we have in the ICCSD. Look around at the rest of the state... my hometown school just consolidated (for the third time). They are certainly not diverse (nor are they particularly wealthy, other than in cost of living difference), yet they lack so many opportunities that our kids have.

EDJ said...

Chris- my remarks about the claim that Elementary should be done first were primarily meant to be addressed to one of your anonymous commenters, who argued just that. Its true that you didn't do that here, tho you've stated before, in email to me for instance, that you believe this.

What you did with the claim is a little different. You're using the fact that elementary integration--something you did nothing to support and which was rarely a topic on your blog when most of the tussles over elementary boundaries were going on--hasn't happened yet in order to call into question the motivations of people who supported demographically balanced secondary boundaries, both on and off the board. You've further suggested that the lack of furor over the recently passed elementary boundaries reinforces your claim, even though that took place in the midst of the crisis over secondary boundaries that you helped create.

Your rhetorical leverage here depends on the idea that elementary is more urgent and should have been done first. There's some truth to the urgency, given the greater disparities, but not based on the idea that the effects of concentrations of poverty in secondary schools are insignificant compared to those effects in elementary schools. But the fact that those disparities exist and are longstanding also speaks to the difficulties involved in undoing them. I think you'll find that the "straightforward opportunities" you describe are far fewer and far less effectual than you think.

The two knots of high-FRL neighborhoods and schools are on the south side (not the East side) of Iowa City, and the Kirkwood zone in Coralville. Sticking with the geography I know better, you can help exactly one schools with Sister School pairings-- Twain and Longfellow are .8 miles apart and have vastly different demographics. Everything south of that is a high poverty school with no middle class or affluent school close enough to build a pair with. In fact, there really isn't much that can be done even with wholesale boundary changes and wholesale busing on such a scale that it would live up to and surpass even the most overheated claims about the busing involved in the May 2015 secondary boundaries. If you have ideas about how to address this, I'd sincerely love to hear them.

So a Twain-Longfellow pairing presents some opportunities. Its complicated by the fact that only one of the schools currently has AC, and that Longfellow is slated to be reenovated in 2018, with all of its students moving out to a swing school. I think this would probably present some challenges to getting that paring going anytime soon. But after that work is done, sure. But again, that's just one school addressed, and the claim is that there are many straightforward opportunities that would place little or no burden on families and not cost the District money. I do agree with you and Paul Roesler on Breckeridge. I'm curious what else you have in mind.

EDJ said...

BTW-- this idea (that some of y'all seem to have) that voting no on the bond would give the District "a wake up call" is kind of insanely childish, IMHO. What it would do is leave us with a 3rd HS that was much smaller than the others and would have no athletic facilities, and leave some schools without air conditioning and other needed improvements.

EDJ said...

Chris-- maybe a more succuint path than my long comment above. You say "But somehow the balance proposals that actually succeed are the ones that would take FRL out of the east side, and not the (less costly and burdensome) ones that might actually make shifts within the east side elementaries."

What exactly are these less costly and burdensome proposoals that would make shifts withing the East side elementaries? And particularly of interest to me, which of these would deal with the actual high-poverty elementaries on the Southeast side?

EDJ said...

AJA-- I don't mean to be sanctimonious. Regarding Republicans on the school board, I've known Paul Roesler for a long time. I know what his values are, and I know he's not committed to Republican ideology and has voted for Democrats in many elections throughout his life. I don't know the same about Phil, and it always surprises me how someone who seems clearly devoted to at least fiscal Republican ideas gets such a pass from Iowa City liberals. Still, you're right that I shouldn't have harped on it.

As a strong supporter of the progressive candidates for city council in the last election, I'm not crazy about seeing people I support on the school board being too friendly to The Beacon. But, Paul Roeler was supported by both Mayor Jim Throgmorton and former mayor Hayek in the last election, and in general I'm very wary of turning the school board into a proxy site for intra-party ideological conflicts among Johnson county Democrats.

Lastly, regarding Chris's involvement-- yes, he was involved in school politics during those years, and yes, I can understand his reasons for not supporting the Diversity Policy. But to have spent so little energy during that time on the disparities between schools, the socioeconomic and racial segregation in our district at the elementary level, while spending so much on other issues, and then to call out people on the basis of this work still needing to be done-- that's a little hard to swallow. I'm pretty sure, though I could be wrong, that if you go back through the Blog About School archives, you'll find more posts and more substantive words about PBIS than you will about high poverty schools.

Anonymous said...

EDJ in all those words you didn't say much.

Truth is economic integration policy has been failing in IC for years. Whether it's the failure to integrate elementary schools since 2010 (no east Siders would agree to it). The failed outcomes in the Borlaug/Horn/Weber experiment. Or the overtly racist "ship Alexander away" plan.

Fail. Fail. Fail.

No to the bond.

Anonymous said...

The ICCSD isn't doing too well lately.
Schooldigger ranks us 195th of 315 districts in Iowa.

GreatSchools gives our district 5 out of 10.

US News and we don't make their top ten Iowa High Schools in 2016 let alone their national rankings. CR Kennedy, LinnMar, Cedar Falls, Ankeny are all ranked top ten. We aren't.

This district is getting weaker. 8 years of trying to make us an experiment in boundary shifting policy isn't working and it will get worse as long as the current plan and current leadership remains. The District and School Board majority the last 8 years have proven they are good at one thing and that's tearing apart a growing district.

Wondering said...

How many students will be at each hs next year? What will the SES look like at each hs school?

Anonymous said...

Next year, Liberty will only have the ninth and tenth grade. Better to look at 2017-2021. Liberty has four grades starting in 2019 and doesn't get the 500 seat addition until 2022.

Anonymous said...

You can live in crowded cities where people care what car you drive. And you can live in Iowa City where people care what school you attend.
How much is that car worth? What does it say about them?
What high school has the lowest percent of poor kids? What does it say about them?
Makes me want to look at other districts where this presumptive attitude hasn't been ingrained by years of misinformation aimed at telling people that it does matter.
I agree this district is slipping.

wondering said...

Person @ 7:54,
I don't want to look 2017-2021, I am curious about next year, 2017-2018.

I would like to know how many kids (estimated) will be at each school next year. I never see this info posted anywhere and would like to know.

Chris, If you know this info could you please share?

Anonymous said...

Why would you want to focus on one year only, when Liberty only has ninth and tenth, no athletic fields, and is only a 1000 seat school? That won't be much of a comparison. Chris, please include the the 2018-2021 data when you share.

Anonymous said...

EDJ: voting no is "insanely childish?" The alternative would be to give $190 million dollars to a board that will spend it how they please. And that won't be for the benefit of existing older schools. If you think that the board will commit to specific projects at specific prices on the bond ballot language, you would be naive.

My suggestion would be for the district to get it's house in order before doing anything else- the special ed fiasco creates no confidence in the bond issue.

Anonymous said...

@ Person @ 9:43,
Liberty isn't my main concern. I was just curious how many students will be at each hs for 2017. I understand that Liberty will get larger. I am wondering how much WHS and CHS will shrink in population each year.

Anonymous said...

Anon September 15, 2016 at 9:44 AM: Again, as posted elsewhere, that is not how a GO bond works. At some point I would expect Chris to chime in and correct you as well but that doesn't seem to fit his agenda so here goes. Unlike the RPS vote, a GO bond requires the district to specifically enumerate the projects that will be funded by the bond and, then, shocker, the funds can only be used for those projects. Hansel, the districts CFO who oversaw a similarly massive GO bond when he was at Ankeny, has stated as such at numerous board meetings .... as recently as the last board meeting. As a result, the public WILL be voting up or down on the specific items listed ....not giving the board a blank check to do with how they please which seems to be your fear. It is also worth noting that the structure of the FMP timing was done exactly with this in mind.... namely, insuring balance as far as which projects would be on the bond ..... meaning in all parts of the district and also, balancing new schools with upgrades. After all, if one part of the district already had all of their projects done there would be less incentive for themto vote for the remainder.

Anonymous said...

Quick question, what districts have successfully used "socioeconomic balance?" What were their outcomes?

It seems like adding the "socioeconomic balance conversation" is problematic if we don't understand why we are doing it. And so far I see a lot of people tossing around the numbers but they can't explain how it is all supposed to lead to success. I mean I get the theory but theories are supposed to explain a set of facts, so where has this been done and how well has it worked?

Anonymous said...

Sept 15 at 9:58. If you have any reference to an Iowa Code or administrative regulation which requires specific projects to be identified I would like to know what it is. I've looked and didn't find any requirement for that level of specificity. You can expect the ballot language to be broad and noncommittal.

Anonymous said...

9:58: Here is a link to a "how to pass a go bond" guide published by the Iowa Department of Education. Note the advice to keep the bond petition language as broad as possible so as to not commit to a particular type of building and location. Then note the advice to have the ballot language mirror this non-commital language.

Also interesting to note the failure rate of bond elections.

Anonymous said...

Another attempt to hijack the school district with an east side agenda. They want to pass the bond, get their hands on the cash, and paint themselves into a self protected corner of the district where they can hide behind construction commitments. They built an FMP around a district plan that includes busing away from their side of town the "undesirables" and they want this money to finish that plan. It's disgusting.

Anonymous said...

If the bond passes the board will create a "tiered priority list of projects." This allows the school board to pick and choose what items go first. And rest assured there will be projects that get pushed back and some that won't get completed. Just because an item is on the bond doesn't mean it gets completed.

I do not trust the current board or administration with that responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Chris, thank you for continuing to write your blog and to let people post comments. You've been nothing but gracious and upfront with the public during the years you have been writing.

EDJ, I wish you had been more vocal about how to economically integrate schools before Alexander and Liberty locations were built. I don't remember you speaking up about the locations of these schools? Now we have another high FRL elementary school and low FRL high school. If the bond is $190 million, let's get thinking about how not to make payments too expensive for families.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:58 why the need to incentivize by holding back projects? Why the feeling that adults and schools need to be treated such a way?

is this a healthy relationship you would want to have with anyone? So manipulative.

Anonymous said...

I thought the same thing when people were threatening to fail the bond if Hoover stayed open. So manipulative.

Anonymous said...

Manipulation is the name of the game in the ICCSD. Words to describe the ruling forces in the district the last eight years are greedy, arrogant, and faultless. I like three of the current board members a lot, Liebig among them. Unfortunately they are the minority and the district continues to move in the wrong direction. Lawsuits are coming and this situation will be corrected. If you are an Alexander student and you are being told you can't go to City High you have a payday on the way. Start looking for attorneys who have won these types of cases and you will find them. Google is a wonderful tool.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous from September 15, 2016 at 2:22 AM,

OMG - Completely agree with ALL you said and love the honesty.

Anonymous said...

It's always nice to see people post anonymously what they clearly wouldn't if they had to use their name. Even then, it's easy to identify many of the commenters based upon what they say and how they say it .... MC and JVD to name a few.

KJ said...

It seems there is quite a bit of finger pointing of who was involved the boundary talks for the past few years and who wasn't and how much they were involved...in the grand scheme of things does it really matter? The big picture is we have 2 very low income schools taking the brunt of this socioeconomic balance experiment that our district is implementing. Alexander opened up its doors at 74% FRL and in 2019 with the new elementary boundaries our FRL percentage will increase. Those of you that are touting your involvement in the diversity policy...where was the outcry and discussions about opening a brand new f-ing school at 74% FRL??? Oh that's right; it didn't matter because it wasn't your kids attending this school and as long as they weren’t in your school it didn’t matter….out of sight out of mind. How many parents from Wood and Twain that are now Alexander families were involved in these discussions? How many from Kirkwood?

The secondary boundaries have been finalized so now the conversation should shift to how Alexander and Kirkwood students and families will continue to be involved with their schools at the secondary level if their family has no reliable transportation. Please don't say activity busses because you’re kidding yourself if you think that's an option. The district saved appx $450,000/yr a year by cutting discretionary bussing only to incur a low ball estimate of $250,000/yr on Alexander and Kirkwood bussing in 2017 and when an activity bus will cost $49,000 per bus.... you do the math, do you really think we're going to be able to offer activity busses? And you can’t say have them take public transportation to and from activities because it’s NOT an option for Kirkwood.

Those of you that are spending so much time pointing fingers, use that enthusiasm to help these kids out. You seem so proud of what you’ve accomplished in all of your discussions over the past few years, you got the boundaries you wanted now put your “hard work” to use and find out what it is that YOU can do to help eliminate the burdens that will be now be placed on these families and students. Maybe we should have a carpool sign-up sheet for the folks that were SOOOO involved in these discussions over the past few years to take carloads of kiddos to and from activities. EDJ, maybe we could put you at the top of the list to get things started…you know, because you were so involved and seem to know more than the rest of us in regards to the boundaries and rational behind them.

As an Alexander parent, having someone tell me my kid is better off being on a bus for up to 2 hours a day for the sake of FRL balance can go to hell. When it’s your kid sitting on a hot noisy bus full of teens and possibly being bullied for 2 hours a day, I’ll be more willing to listen to your arguments on what you feel are the positives of integration by bussing. Maybe the board members that support these secondary boundaries should be required to ride the bus with the kiddos from Alexander and Kirkwood for at least a week at a time and then give reports on how much they enjoyed those bus rides. Stop the finger pointing folks, the real issue is how we’re going to help eliminate these barriers that these kids are going to be up against whether its school related or with life in general. I hope the district plans on monitoring the extracurricular involvement of Alexander and Kirkwood students and have a plan to assist when their involvement drops due to transportation issues or when they are missing too much school because they missed the school bus and can’t take a city bus to school so they just don’t go. Have some compassion folks, we have bigger issues to deal with because of these boundaries other than who was more involved and who wasn’t.

Anonymous said...

yes, stop finger pointing ... while I finger point throughout the entirety of my post.

KJ said...

Anon 10:17--the fact that you feel offended leads me to believe that you were one of the commenters touting your involvement over others. I'll assume you didn't like the idea of the carpooling for the Alexander and Kirkwood kids either? Bummer. Are you an Alexander or Kirkwood parent? If not, then I'm not quite sure you have any idea the amount of frustration we have. Many of us do NOT feel this is being done to help us but rather to us/against us. Normally I would apologize for offending someone but I've learned to stop apologizing when it comes to my feelings on the secondary boundaries and how I feel they will affect our families.

Anonymous said...

Not offended. Just pointing out that you say in 3 of your 4 paragraphs we should "stop pointing fingers" yet the entire intent of you post seems to point fingers. For background, I live on the east side and my kids have been bussed past 4 elementary schools since they started. Much to everyones shock, they did not spontaneously combust on their bus ride and seem to be doing quite well despite their inability to attend their "neighborhood school." In fact, they made a lot of friends from neighborhoods in other parts of the district which I would say makes them better equipped as they matriculate to larger schools and into society.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous from September 16, 2016 at 9:54 AM,

Gee - why would people want anonymity in this open and accepting town? I mean it's not like disagreeing with the disingenuous "We must balance FRL to help the lower SES folks - even if it is over their objections" can get you labeled or anything...... oh wait.....

KJ - You're spot on. These people don't care about you, your family, or any other Alexander/Twain/Kirkwood folks one bit. They have been trying to boot low SES folks out of City High for years.

KJ said...

Anon 10:17 now Anon 10:40, You are correct. I am pointing fingers at those (including board members) who have been heavily involved in the diversity policy discussions and favored this policy (and like to point out their involvement on the policy on this blog) to step up and offer the same enthusiasm that they did for the diversity policy to the Kirkwood and Alexander families in regards to breaking down the barriers that they will face because of these boundaries. That sucks that your kids ride the bus past 4 schools, is their bus ride an hour each way? Are they able to participate in after school activities? Would they be able to participate if your family didn’t have reliable transportation? How long would the walk be if they missed the school bus and didn’t have the option to use public transportation? The point of my original comment is that IT DOES NOT matter how involved someone was with the diversity policy to be able to realize we have 2 of the highest FRL schools taking on the brunt of the FRL balancing and they are going to need some help and I hope the community and school board step up and offer assistance.

Anonymous said...

KJ - thanks for the follow up and acknowledging the hypocrisy of saying we should stop pointing figures when the intent of your post was to point fingers itself. End of the day, I agree it presents challenges to those that already have challenges. As a single working parent I face similar issues given the elementary boundaries yet have found a way to make it work. I also think its far fetched to claim or believe that the goal of the "balance supporters" or the board was to "boot the low SES folks" out of City or that there is some underlying scheme at play. I prefer to acknowledge that everyone is attempting to right by their family, their neighborhood and their district but there just happens to be a valid disagreement over how to best accomplish what is the "right" decision. This district has a long history of vilifying those individuals or groups that have opposing views which is, imo, the worst method of advocacy one could choose. Calling someone names, claiming they have ill intent, or claiming there is some grand underlying scheme is more likely to cause them to dig in deeper rather than being open to a rational dialog regarding the issues. For example, which do you think will have a better chance of changing someone's mind: "your a moron and let me tell you why" vs. "I recognize and appreciate your position but I ask that you consider mine as well." Perhaps you won't change their mind but I would venture to guess you would have much better chance and would further the discuss rather than shutting it off.

KJ said...

"Calling someone names, claiming they have ill intent, or claiming there is some grand underlying scheme is more likely to cause them to dig in deeper rather than being open to a rational dialog regarding the issues. For example, which do you think will have a better chance of changing someone's mind: "your a moron and let me tell you why" vs. "I recognize and appreciate your position but I ask that you consider mine as well." Perhaps you won't change their mind but I would venture to guess you would have much better chance and would further the discuss rather than shutting it off"
In this district? Neither approach works.

The dialogue for the past year….
Alexander/Kirkwood families on secondary boundaries: "This will create hardship for our families, we will not be able to participate in extracurricular activities, my child missed the bus and I have no alternative to get them to school etc."

Majority of current school board and diversity policy supporters: "So...when can we get the secondary boundary decision set in stone to send Kirkwood and Alexander to the exact schools that they are saying will create barriers for them and not offer any alternatives/assistance."

I think in regards to this situation, it's always going to feel like "us vs them". I continue to say this over and over, until you're a Kirkwood or Alexander parent in this exact situation, it's difficult to hear folks say Anon 9:45's comments are off base when many of us are starting to feel like they are on point.

Anonymous said...

City High is scared of being the poor, black high school in the district and there fear is nothing new. Just like whites feared having blacks move into there neighborhoods in the 50's. Just like whites feared blacks moving into there schools in the 60's. This is an attempt to segregate a minority so that they numbers don't become to big to handle.

KJ said...

Correction to my above post....I was referring to Anon 10:56's post, not Anon 9:45

Anonymous said...

EDJ: You wrote "the crisis over secondary boundaries that you helped create" to Chris Liebig.

So a crisis consists of high schools at 20%, 34% and 36% FRL when the new high school opens? It would have been a "crisis" to alternatively further diversify Liberty by putting the Mann island and/or the new Lincoln 45% FRL school at Liberty instead of Kirkwood? Interesting.

Yet a FRL disparity of 1.9% to 75.7% does NOT earn the word "crisis" from you in this thread? It is just too hard to further improve those elementary numbers?

Let's see what we hear back from the Longfellow, Shimek, Lemme parents and others on the East Side that voted Roesler in on this "referendum on boundaries/FRL balance" election as someone else called it. Especially when tweaks and/or paired schools to the recently passed elementary attendance zones are suggested to improve FRL balance at Mann, Shimek, Longfellow, Twain, Lemme, and New Hoover (hopefully this fall). Let's just see what the voices at community comment say then. Let's see where the power 4 of the school board vote then too. Will it be to pair schools for FRL balance AND for efficiency? Will New Hoover and Lemme do a little swap for FRL balance? Not to mention pairing schools would save the district easily $250,000 a year (or more) every year going forward? Let's just see what happens and where those votes fall and if the power 4 of the board LISTEN to all those people who want FRL balance from the Roesler election.

As for Wickham/Coralville Central/Kirkwood, that will have to wait in large part until Kirkwood gets its addition which is unfortunately quite late into the FMP. Interestingly, adding onto Kirkwood while keeping it a Liberty feeder school will just make Liberty that much more overcrowded that much earlier (and making it even more likely that a school like Van Allen will be removed from Liberty). I've heard a lot of people talking about that, in fact Roesler himself posted that on Facebook last year saying he would rather move a rich school like Van Allen out than have to move the poor kids. These "rumors" start with fact, not fiction.

Anonymous said...

KJ, you said ".... Maybe the board members that support these secondary boundaries should be required to ride the bus with the kiddos from Alexander and Kirkwood for at least a week at a time and then give reports on how much they enjoyed those bus rides..."

I think this is a great idea. I think the board members should take up this challenge and do it. Well, anyone?

Chris said...

Thanks, everyone, for the comments. I've been unable to keep up with them for the past couple of days -- too much else going on. Will try to chime in more when I can.