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Hills parents ask School Board to reconsider proposed district boundaries

BY BRITTANY TREVICK | JUNE 15, 2011 7:20 AM

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Hills Elementary parents want to save their children’s school.

During an Iowa City School Board meeting Tuesday night intended to discuss boundaries for the new Borlaug Elementary, two Hills parents demanded that the School Board to consider discussing Hills boundaries before completing plans. The parents believed new proposed district’s boundaries would have a negative effect on Hills Elementary and the community.

“You can save a school with one simple move,” said Julie Van Dyke, who has a son at Hills Elementary.

The concerns come after the School Board discussed reducing costs at Hills Elementary — which has a 35 percent higher operating cost per student than other elementary schools — at its last meeting, with the possibility of closing the school. Officials said they would not send Hills students to Borlaug, the newest elementary school, if Hills is shut down.

In order to help the survival of the community of Hills and Hills Elementary, Van Dyke said, she believes the Lake Ridge students need to be transferred back to Hills. Doing this, she said, would still send them to Southeast Junior High and then City High, which is the board’s current plan.

Van Dyke also said Lake Ridge students were moved out of Hills Elementary to Twain Elementary in order to balance City High and West High.

“They were taken against their will,” Van Dyke said.

Board members acknowledged at their May meeting that closing Hills would lead to difficulties on where to send students.

Hills parent Heather Stevens also voiced her concerns at the board’s meeting.

Stevens said she was frustrated the board did not mention Hills once in the discussion of the proposed Borlaug boundaries.

“Can you live with that?” Stevens said, asking the board to discuss another proposal. “Without that discussion?”

After hearing Stevens’ and Van Dyke’s comments, the board members said setting new boundaries doesn’t mean they’re never going to look over the boundaries again and make changes.

Board member Sarah Swisher apologized for not mentioning Hills but said she believes the discussions about Hills boundaries are not at the center of the Borlaug boundaries discussion, a main focus of Tuesday’s meeting.

“We hear that, but we have a lot of other work to do,” she said.

Board member Tuyet Dorau, said she doesn’t think the change to the Hills boundaries will have a large effect — only seven students would be taken out of Hills and forced to go to another school.

But for Stevens, the change would be great.

“I feel like this could be the final nail in the coffin for Hills if you don’t look at these boundaries,” she said.

School Board officials said they hope to vote on the new district boundaries on June 28, pending a recommendation from the administration.


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