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School Board outlines boundary plans

BY HOLLY HINES | NOVEMBER 09, 2009 7:20 AM

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Iowa City School Board members have further defined their four main concerns with redistricting.
The School Board said its boundary-change committee should make recommendations that address the following:

• Keeping students in the school closest to their homes
• Balancing the number of students receiving free or reduced lunch prices throughout the district
• Ensuring boundary-change costs are affordable
• Addressing the increasing high-school enrollment immediately

The district’s boundary-change committee will consider these goals when forming two or three potential redistricting options during a series of meetings, which will begin later this month.

The four concerns — introduced during a work session on Sunday — fall under the board’s four broader priorities. Those are demographics, operational costs, keeping neighborhoods intact, and enrollment considerations.

Board members will officially approve their priorities during a meeting Tuesday.

Relocating some students who receive free or reduced lunch prices would likely reduce the number of poverty-level students in some district schools. Board members said the committee should focus on this factor to help balance demographics.

Board President Patti Fields said the committee should emphasize sending students to the school closest to their homes because community members feel the issue is important. Board members said they will try to ensure all students in a single neighborhood attend the same school when possible.

Committee members should consider closing and consolidating schools if necessary to ensure boundary changes are affordable, board members said. Current budget concerns constrict the feasibility of increasing costs to the district for the following couple years, they said.

Board members also said boundary-change plans should include an immediate solution regarding increasing high-school enrollment, and the district will not likely be able to afford a new high school in the next several years.

Board members don’t plan to rank their four priorities, saying the committee should strive to maintain a balance among them.

“I want [the criteria] to drive the process in concert with each other,” said board member Gayle Klouda.

District officials are completing the list of people — including city officials, school faculty, and parents — who will participate on the boundary committee.

Superintendent Lane Plugge said he plans to meet with the district’s Equity Committee early this week to help ensure the final selections properly represent the whole district.

Officials are considering adding another representative from the northern portion of the district, in addition to members the Equity Committee may recommend, Plugge said. The committee will likely have 33 or 34 members total, he said.

“People want to know who is on this committee,” Fields said, and she thinks it’s important to complete the list quickly so officials can publish it in the community.

Board members will likely approve a partial list of committee members at a meeting on Tuesday.


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