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Third Iowa City high school plans begin

BY ALEX SHEETS | JUNE 06, 2012 6:30 AM

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Overcrowding has been an issue for the Iowa City high schools in recent years, and the Iowa City School District administration hopes to relieve it by creating a third high school.

To ease the overcrowding, a third high school, at present named the New Comprehensive High School, is being planned by the High-School Study Committee Board.

Superintendent Steve Murley said he wanted some insight from the study panel into the layout and costs of building a new high school at the meeting on June 5.

"Paint us a picture … so the board is better informed," he said.

The meeting included a presentation from the committee about construction costs along with what a school fit to serve 800 students would look like.

Murley said the current high schools are not capable to hold the number of students that are enrolled.

Committee members said there are two possible scenarios for the population of the new high school. Eight hundred students could move from West High, or the new school could get 80 percent of its students from West and 20 percent from City High.

The committee looked at other schools as examples for the new high school, including Ankeny High, Ballard High, and Clear Creek/Amana High. There are no concrete designs plans for the school at this time.

"Function [of the school] will create the design," said Gregg Shoultz, a presenter for the committee. "[It is] the absolute earliest you can get a high school off the ground."

Shoultz said the committee foresees a 2016 completion date for the school.

Murley said $32.1 million has been "earmarked" for construction costs. The money would come from the school infrastructure tax-option sales tax, and additional funding would come from the physical plant and equipment levy.

Building and running the school are expected to cost more than the $32.1 million, Shoultz said. Construction inflation and decisions about how large the common spaces will affect the total cost, he said.

The cost of staffing will also be less substantial because many of the teaching staff would move with the students to the new high school, Shoultz said.

In addition, business, family consumer science, art, and industrial technology classes will have to be redesigned or combined for a small population.

Jen Greer, a mother of a West High student, said she was excited about the new high school and was anxious to reduce the crowding at West.

"[I am] really happy and pleased with the committee's report," she said. "Let's expedite the decision to get it started."

The School Board will meet June 19 and continue discussion about the new high school.


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