Rezoning of City High will be done in time for the 2015-2016 school year

Claire Noack

ICCSD plans redistricting

Between spring 2014 and spring 2021 the Iowa City Community School District will rezone all 28 of its schools in an effort to follow the new diversity policy.

February 24, 2014

At a meeting on Tuesday, January 14th, the School Board was presented with a timeline of the many transitions that will take place over the coming years. The plan includes several breaks in the district’s newly adopted diversity policy, but the Board stands behind their decision to approve it.

Due to the upcoming construction of three new elementary schools, a high school, and renovations to all existing ICCSD schools, the current borders of each school will need to be redrawn. In addition, the implementation of a new diversity policy requires the transfer of students across the district, which can be achieved through redistricting.

“What this redistricting will be about is to align the goals of the diversity policy with the facilities plan to accomplish both goals and to reduce the impact,” ICCSD Equity Director Ross Wilburn said. “If you’re a student having to move to another school, the goal is to reduce having to move several times down to one time.”

The rezoning will affect schools of every level, taking place in a total of eight clusters of schools that will be looked at for redistricting between this spring and the spring of 2021. Five of the clusters are made up of elementary schools, with the remaining three composed of the junior high and high schools.

One aspect of this plan, the diversity policy, was adopted for the 2012-2013 school year. It aims to bring all elementary schools within 15 percent of the district average in terms of students on free or reduced lunch, and have the number of FRL students at City High and West High be within 10 percentage points of each other.

“We’ve got some schools like Lincoln that are around five or six percent on free and reduced lunch, and we have some schools that are at 70 to 80 percent.” Wilburn said. “The goal is to bring those numbers closer together.”

As of this year, the gap between City and West is at 14 percent. The ICCSD plans to have the two schools in compliance with the diversity policy by the 2015-2016 school year, and the rest of the district’s 22 schools in compliance by the 2018-2019 school year.

During the phasing plan there will be two points in which the district will be out of compliance with the diversity policy for one year as more schools are built, in order to limit the number of transitions for students in the district.

“The board approved it because the way the plan is laid out is a more natural timeline.” School Board President Sally Hoelscher said. “It makes sense to essentially delay that for waiting for more construction and more buildings.”

The diversity policy will be put into effect at the same time as the Master Facilities Plan. So, as school district boundaries are changed, new schools will be opening, and others will be renovated.

“The timing of the goals, the plans, aren’t in sync,” Wilburn said. “Sometimes there may need to be a slight adjustment in a timeline regardless of which policy it is.”

Some community members object to the way the diversity policy will be put into effect. Julie VanDyke, community parent, would prefer to have the district incentify, or put programs people will travel to get at schools with a percentage of FRL that is over that of the district average.

“Of the ways to implement the diversity policy, redistricting is not the best one,” VanDyke said.  “The superintendent’s refusal to implement programs to incentify I think is harmful to the Iowa City community, which has the majority of the poverty, and it’s not right.”

Kierra Zapf, ‘17, also feels frustration when it comes to the diversity policy.

“We just recently moved,” Zapf said, “and we didn’t buy certain houses because there were certain schools we didn’t want her to go to.”

Zapf’s little sister currently attends Lincoln, one of the schools up for redistricting in 2015.

“With this new diversity policy it doesn’t even matter anymore.” Zapf said. “It’s not that I think it’s a bad plan, I just think that where you live should affect where you go to school.”

The School Board will start having community involvement meetings starting this spring, before any schools are redistricted, something Principal Bacon is excited for.

“It’s definitely something I want to be engaged in,” Bacon said. “and I’m certainly excited to welcome any students that would be assigned to City High as a result of this redistricting process.”

Rezoning+will+affect+schools+of+every+level%2C+taking+place+in+a+total+of+eight+clusters+of+schools.
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Rezoning will affect schools of every level, taking place in a total of eight clusters of schools.

Rezoning will affect schools of every level, taking place in a total of eight clusters of schools.

Claire Noack

Rezoning will affect schools of every level, taking place in a total of eight clusters of schools.

Claire Noack

Claire Noack

Rezoning will affect schools of every level, taking place in a total of eight clusters of schools.

The rezoning will affect schools of every level, taking place in a total of eight clusters of schools that will be looked at for redistricting between this spring and the spring of 2021. Five of the clusters are made up of elementary schools, with the remaining three composed of the junior high and high schools.

One aspect of this plan, the diversity policy, was adopted for the 2012-2013 school year. It aims to bring all elementary schools within 15 percent of the district average in terms of students on free or reduced lunch, and have the number of FRL students at City High and West High be within 10 percentage points of each other.

    “We’ve got some schools like Lincoln that are around five or six percent on free and reduced lunch, and we have some schools that are at 70 to 80 percent.” Wilburn said. “The goal is to bring those numbers closer together.”

As of this year, the gap between City and West is at 14 percent. The ICCSD plans to have the two schools in compliance with the diversity policy by the 2015-2016 school year, and the rest of the district’s 22 schools in compliance by the 2018-2019 school year.

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