Election will bring changes to Iowa City school board

July 20, 2009

IOWA CITY – Some big changes are coming to the Iowa City school board.

The Gazette’s Meredith Hines-Dochterman had a story in today’s newspaper on the intentions of area school board members up for re-election in September.

There are three seats up for election on the seven-member Iowa City school board.  Jan Leff and Tim Krumm said they won’t seek re-election, and Mike Cooper is undecided.

“It’s good to have a change of personnel and a newer way of looking at things,” said Leff, who has served nine years on the board.

Krumm, who is nearing the end of his first three-year term, told Hines-Dochterman he needs to balance work and family responsibilities.

Cooper was unhappy in the spring of 2008 when the board voted to shorten his term by a year to comply with a new state law. When the board was contemplating taking that action, Cooper said  he wouldn’t seek re-election under such a scenario.

“I don’t want to spend half my next year campaigning for an office I was elected to for three years,” he said.

As of 2 p.m. Monday, no one had filed the necessary paperwork to run for the school board, according to the district. Potential candidates have until July 30 to do so.

During the Roosevelt Elementary debate, there was talk of trying to find people to challenge incumbents.

The school district is currently facing a number of major issues – a budget crunch, planning for a third high school, boundary changes – that board members will play a central role in deciding.

The board has indicated it will act soon on addressing the growing enrollment disparity between City High and West High. Board President Toni Cilek has said she thought this board would want to make a decision on that before the Sept. 8 election.

Advertisements

New Iowa City high school, boundary changes

July 15, 2009

By Gregg Hennigan

IOWA CITY – Last night’s Iowa City school board meeting was an eventful one, and there was a lot that didn’t make it into the story in the paper and online.

Superintendent Lane Plugge presented the board with a timeline for opening another high school and several proposals for boundary changes to address high school enrollment disparities.

Those are two of the biggest issues facing the growing district.

The district is supposed to put the proposals on its Web site.

Last night was the unveiling of these plans, so there naturally are a lot of questions that must be answered before the board makes a decision. After the jump are the ones that I can think of. Leave me a comment if you think of others.

Read the rest of this entry »


Broad support for changing Iowa City school boundaries, multiple reasons why

June 27, 2009

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.

Read the rest of this entry »


School board approves new contract for Plugge

June 10, 2009

By Gregg Hennigan

IOWA CITY — The Iowa City school board has extended the contract of Superintendent Lane Plugge by one year with no salary increase.

The board unanimously approved the move late last night after a closed session for Plugge’s annual review, board President Toni Cilek said Wednesday.

Plugge works on a three-year contract, which now runs through June 30, 2012. He will be paid $174,021 for the year that begins July 1, which is what he currently makes, said Jim Pedersen, the district’s human resources director. There were no other changes in Plugge’s contract.

Pluggeand other district administrators asked that their base salaries remain the same next year because of the district’s financial woes. The district has been cutting services and a few employees in an effort to save $6 million over the next two years.

Administrators other than Plugge will see their total packages go up by 1.4 percent to cover increases in benefits they pay, Pedersen said.

Plugge in March asked the teachers union to restructure its existing contract, a request the union denied. That contract calls for teachers to get a 5 percent salary and benefits increase on July 1.

Read the rest of this entry »