By Gregg Hennigan
(This is an expanded version of the story that is in Saturday’s Gazette. The bottom third, in particular, has information only found here.)
IOWA CITY — At a meeting earlier this year, Iowa City school board member Gayle Klouda joked about when the best time to redraw school boundaries across the district would be.
When school board members aren’t seeking re-election and the superintendent is retiring, she said.
Yet comprehensive boundary changes are exactly what a growing chorus of people wants, from Klouda and other board members to administrators and parents. And no one is expecting it to be painless.
“Tongue in cheek, there is a humorous side to all that,” Klouda said in an interview. “But it’s also true that people are not going to be all of one mind with respect to where those boundaries ought to be put.”
Redistricting, as it is often called, has not occurred in Iowa City in nearly two decades. But it has been the underlying theme to a number of recent issues confronting the district. This includes high school enrollment, the call by some for a third high school, the concentration of low-income students in certain schools and the upcoming closure of Roosevelt Elementary.
“I think the board has heard the issue, and I think we are as close as any board has been since I have been on the board (starting in 2002) to addressing these tough issues,” board President Toni Cilek said of redistricting, adding that the board is not scared politically to tackle the subject.
Superintendent Lane Plugge said he is not yet preparing a boundary recommendation but has started preliminary work by meeting with demographers from the University of Iowa to see how they can help in adjusting boundaries.