Coralville parents voice concerns about redistricting

BY HOLLY HINES | APRIL 07, 2010 7:30 AM

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Kirk Fridrich, a University of Iowa professor of hospital dentistry and an Iowa City School District parent, is concerned about the safety of student drivers.

Fridrich was one of several parents who spoke out on Tuesday against a redistricting scenario the Iowa City School Board’s boundary committee recently recommended.

Community members filled the Coralville City Hall for a work session seeking public input on school redistricting. Attendees flowed out of the council chamber into the hallway.

RSP & Associates consultants presented the scenario, which includes redirecting Wickham Elementary students to eventually attend City High rather than West High, at a recent boundary committee meeting.

Many parents said this concerns them because it would likely encourage students in the Coralville area to drive on Interstate 80 to get to school.

Some parents also said they were against the scenario because it doesn’t include the option of adding a third high school or keeping the Coralville area community intact.

Fridrich said at the forum that, as a surgeon, he sees patients who have been in car accidents on a regular basis, and he feels this gives him a different perspective on the issue.

He noted many students travel near their high school more than once a day to attend extracurricular events and see friends.

Wickham parent Chris Lynch said he’s concerned implementing an option without plans for a third high school could only be a short-term fix, leading to more enrollment frustrations in the future.

“I’d really hate to be in a situation where we need to redistrict again,” he said.

Lynch said he’s concerned because parents and committee members have not yet seen complete information, such as operational costs, for the newly added scenario. He noted there has been no districtwide forum for the public to discuss that option, as there had been with previous scenarios.

One Coralville parent said the experience of attending school at City High as a Coralville community member has been isolating for her daughter.

Social activities her daughter would normally attend are sometimes difficult for her to travel to because of the distance and time, the parent said.

But a majority of boundary committee members agreed in March that the scenario was a good choice to recommend to the School Board.

Some members said they supported it because it helped balance free and reduced lunch numbers at some of the schools.

However, many Coralville city councilors agreed with parents who spoke against the potential change.

Coralville City Councilor John Weihe, who has a son at West High, said the proposal could harm parents’ involvement as well.

“If I had to drive all the way to City High, I’d miss a lot more activities,” he said.

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