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The Iowa City School Board could be moving elementary students into Hoover Elementary

BY ABIGAIL MEIER | OCTOBER 23, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa City School Board was presented a timetable showcasing the possible opening of several new schools and retiring of the 59-year-old Hoover Elementary.

The board discussed on potentially utilizing two eight-room transitional schoolhouses during the renovations of Twain and Penn Elementary on Tuesday evening — an issue that will be voted on Nov. 15 by the School Board.

According to one the proposals, beginning fall 2017 the district would look to use the former Hoover Elementary School building as a transition school to relocate students during the renovations of Twain, Penn and other schools undergoing renovations within the next ten years.

District officials said this would help increase efficiency and safety precautions for the students.

“That’s the one thing you don’t have to worry about in this district,” School District Superintendent Steve Murley said. “It doesn’t matter where you put a student in our district, the longer they stay in our district, the better they can become. We know we can grow kids, regardless of where they are located.”

Murley assured the crowded boardroom that moving students in the School District would involve the minimal amount of disruption to the learning process of students.

He said the renovations would not interrupt the opening of new elementary schools.

The possible move, called the “one vision transitional schoolhouse-scenario,” would cost the district $716 per student at Hoover Elementary. More than 6,500 elementary, junior-high, and high-school students would be placed in a transition school during the 10-year plan, should it pass.

“It has pros and cons,” board member Chris Lynch said. “The pro is you get to keep the school together, the teachers, the whole community together. But for one year you need to make a change.”

Lynch said relocating students while schools are under renovations is one of the most productive options.

The district’s 10-Year Facilities Master Plan was approved in Feb. 2013 after numerous meetings throughout the year, and its components are slated to be finished by late 2024 — by the end of the 10-year period, every school will be improved or reconstructed.

“For me, it’s about moving the district forward and a comprehensive plan that meets all of our needs to up-grade our current facilities and create new facilities in regard to capacity and a 21st-century learning environment,” Lynch said.

The resources for funding the $250 million plan are three primary revenue streams of the Iowa Secure and Advance Vision for Education funds, physical plan and equipment levy dollars, and general-obligation bonds.

One board member said she believes it is a better plan for students to leave the construction sites in the buildings for a year. She said the construction could be done quicker without disrupting any learning environments.

“I think that choice is between moving the students out of the school for a year so that you can accelerate the work on the school building or leaving them in the school and drawing the construction out could lead to some safety concerns,” said Sally Hoelscher.

Murley said the team is really trying to push the board to move as quickly as possible in approving these plans to keep the process on time.

“When looking at our administrative team, the amount of time, energy, and effort they put in is really backed up by the community, as well as over seven different meetings to give us the marching orders we have built today,” Murley said. “The team here could not have built that without the input of the community — and the team is absolutely wonderful.”


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