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School board won’t expedite plans

BY DI STAFF | JULY 29, 2015 5:00 AM

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Design plans for City High will not be expedited, the Iowa City School Board decided Tuesday night, despite questions from the public about the board’s reasoning to close Hoover Elementary.

Currently, the board’s plan for City High, 1900 Morningside Drive, approved two years ago, has the school expanding onto the land of Hoover Elementary, 2200 E. Court St.,  after it closes around 2017-2018.

The board had considered expediting the high school’s design plans, but ultimately decided not to because doing so would take money away from other projects — most likely from the district’s Physical Plant and Equipment Levy life-cycle fund, which covers buildings, playgrounds, and sports fields.

Expediting the design plans would have cost up to $484,294. City High’s expansion will cost around $21.3 million.

Instead, the board said questions about Hoover could be answered without expediting the design plans.

The expansion is in the first phase of a 10-year plan; the second is slated to begin in the spring of 2019.

“We’ll get to the Phase 2 plan, and we’ll do a darn great job of it, but it doesn’t make sense to pull it forward,” board Chairman Chris Lynch said.

Board member Orville Townsend said he believed the district was not clear enough with the public about why Hoover needed to be closed in order to expand City High.

“We have a unique situation here, and I think transparency will help a lot,” he said. “The following response that’s received may not be one people want to hear, but I think they have right to know.”

Townsend said that as a neighborhood school, City High has much less land available to it than West High and has much fewer options.

Hoover had to be closed, the board said, in order to give City High students equal facilities with the other schools.

“I think people need to understand, if we save Hoover, there will not be the swing schools to help with renovating — Lincoln [Elementary], and Mann [Elementary], and Longfellow [Elementary] that really have intended to be renovated all along,” board member Marla Swesey said. “And possibly the schools they intend to be built won’t be built because the money won’t be there.”

— by Ben Marks


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