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Board releases redistricting discussion forums

BY TING XUAN TAN | JULY 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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Area residents will have the opportunity to air their opinions in the coming months to help redesign attendance areas for the Iowa City School District.

The School District completed the locations and times of the attendance-area sessions on Tuesday at a policy and engagement meeting.

The district will hold four listening-post sessions on Aug. 13 at the North Liberty Recreation Center, 520 W Cherry St., on Aug. 20 at the Coralville Public Library, 1401 Fifth St., as well as at the Spot, 1030 Cross Park Ave., on Aug. 28.

The last scheduled meeting will be held Sept. 8 at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S Linn St.

The district began the process on the attendance areas in March, and the process will continue for several years.

With the new development, officials will redesign which areas the district’s schools will draw from.

The first districts being examined are cluster one, cluster two, and the secondary cluster, which includes all junior-high schools, both City and West High, as well as 14 of the 22 elementary schools.

The listening posts will be similar to open forums, School Board member Patti Fields said.

The board has decided to put a time limit on how long each person may speak at each event.

However, if people have more to say, the board will allow them to voice their thoughts again after others have spoken in order to allow the maximum number of people to participate in the discussion.

The School Board will be strict with the starting and stopping times to discourage people from arriving late.

“I think when we post an ending time, I think we have to [have a stopping point],” Fields said.

At previous discussions, Spanish translators were available. However, officials said, they were underutilized but still necessary for some families.

The board agreed to continue to provide translators at each forum.

In previous listening posts, people still had more questions after the end of the session, but the location had to close and conversations continued in the parking lot.

“We’re here to answer any questions about the maps themselves but certainly hear feedback about the maps,” said board member Brian Kirschling, who is also the chairman of the district’s Policy and Engagement Committee. “… Not debate.”

The number of School Board members present at each listening post will not be fixed.

“In essence, all board members can be there, but you’re only having two or three directing the discussion,” board member Marla Swesey said.


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