Board near school decision

BY CLARK CAHILL | MAY 11, 2009 7:30 AM

The future for Iowa City elementary schools will become clearer after the board’s meeting on Tuesday night.

The Iowa City School Board will make a final decision on proposed cuts to some of the district’s elementary-school librarians and secretaries as well as an increase in the student-to-teacher ratio. The board will also hold a work session to discuss the recommendation to close Roosevelt Elementary.

After officials recommended half-time school librarians from Hills and Shimek and cutting hours and benefits for secretaries at all but six of the district’s elementary schools, the board decided to postpone endorsing the plan at its April 28 meeting.

The plan — expected to save around $158,000 — was postponed after several parents, students, and teachers spoke out against it at the meeting. Board members also expressed the need to learn more about the issue before making an informed decision.

Board President Toni Cilek said board members have since received the necessary information from administrators and will look at several options regarding the cuts.

“We will discuss a few different approaches involving making adjustments to the secretarial staff as opposed to actually cutting the teacher-librarian position,” Cilek said. “I don’t know if those options will be of particular interest to all of the members, but we will discuss them.”

Superintendent Lane Plugge said he is still going to recommend the cuts in an effort for the district to save $6 million in expenditures over the next two years.

The board will also have a work session at the end of its meeting to discuss a plan to close Roosevelt Elementary, moving its students to a potential new school at the Crossings — a residential development near West High — and to Horn Elementary. Enrollment boundaries for Roosevelt, Horn, Kirkwood, and Weber would change if the plan is passed.

A facilities advisory committee, assembled by Plugge, developed nine options for what to do with Roosevelt — some of which include keeping the school open.

Discussion about the fate of Roosevelt began in January after a review of the school revealed $5.1 million in repairs and additions. The report also found the school is socioeconomically and ethnically isolated because of the higher than average number of minority and low-income students.

Because the discussion is part of a board work session, there will be no comments allowed from the public. Cilek said the board is hoping to make a decision on Roosevelt by the end of the month.

“We have gathered a lot of information and feedback over the past few months, and there is a lot of dialogue we will be discussing this week,” she said. “We should come to a decision by our following meeting or the meeting after that.”

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