With Grant Wood Elementary’s percent of students on free and reduced lunch close to 80%, why is the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) planning to build a new elementary school a mile from Grant Wood? From where is the socioeconomic balance going to come? Counting on people to move into the area who can provide more socioeconomic balance seems a tenuous strategy at best. Where are the students going to come from for this new school? Hills? Those students in the Grant Wood or Mark Twain attendance areas, including those who have open enrolled out? Will the district bus students in from other areas? How will the district’s administration ensure that the socioeconomic balance of this new school aligns with the ICCSD’s diversity plan? Does this have anything to do with restructuring schools under NCLB? Is this really the best location for an elementary school?
On an unrelated topic, I welcome the ICCSD’s board continuing permitting the public to comment but find its proposed public comment policy draft troubling. Once the board meeting is opened to public comment, the board will have to work carefully to make sure it does not practice viewpoint discrimination. This, for example, means that speakers can say both good and bad things about how public officials perform their jobs so long as the speakers are not disruptive. And it takes a lot for a speaker to be disruptive since United States courts have, overall, been very protective of the right of citizens to criticize their government.
On a second unrelated topic, I was also troubled that, at its last meeting, that the ICCSD board approved two Clear Creek Amana students to open enroll, presumably, into West High at a time when the district’s own students presumably cannot due to West High being overcrowded. Having out of district students take up seats in a crowded school, whether those students have previously been there or not, strikes me as unfair. After the district’s regrettable policy (since revised online) in 2012 of guaranteeing certain Cardinal Ridge students in the Clear Creek Amana district open enrollment into West High, I had assumed that the district would rethink its open enrollment policy into West. Since open enrollment into West wasn’t properly resolved in 2012 and unfortunately won’t be in 2013, perhaps the district could address this issue early in 2014.