District Explores Options for New Elementary Magnet School

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The ICCSD is exploring the possibility of turning Twain Elementary into a magnet school, an ICCSD school with a theme connected to it.

If Twain does become a magnet school, students from all over the district could attend it. Students would be selected for the school by a lottery. Students living in the Twain attendance area who do not attend the magnet school would go to Lemme, Lucas, or Longfellow. These schools would have space to take on more students due to the opening of the new three new elementary schools in the ICCSD.

Currently Elementary schools Hills, Wood, and Twain collectively are about 72% Free and Reduced Lunch. Establishing a magnet school is a potential way to bring in kids from outside the neighborhood and lower the percentage of FRL.

“I think the biggest challenge [for setting up a magnet school] in Iowa City is that we have such great neighborhood schools. I think it will be really hard to get parents to choose to send their kids to a magnet school instead of their neighborhood school,” Steve Murley, Superintendent of Schools, said. “It’s hard to find people who are critical of their neighborhood school, so it’s really going to have to have that wow factor for a parent to want to send their kid there.”

The Magnet School Committee’s first meeting was Oct. 15th. The committee’s responsibility is to explore the possibility of a magnet school by looking at research and getting feedback from the community.

“ “I think I might get kind of bored if I only focused on one thing,” Rylie Kelley, a student at Lemme Elementary, said.

Some possible themes that could be connected to magnet school could include STEM, fine arts, foreign language immersion, montessori, or international baccalaureate.

Iowa core education would be embedded into the theme.

“I think part of the process, part of the reason for looking at it is knowing that not every student learns in the same way and figuring out how you present more opportunities for kids to match their learning style with our instruction,” Murley said.

Emily Kucera, another student at Lemme Elementary, expressed excitement about the possibility of a magnet school in the ICCSD.

“I would love to go to a school like that,” Kucera said.