Growing pains: the redistricting discussion continues at Northwest

Eleanor

They were different borders and a different meeting place, but many of the concerns at the redistricting forum held on Wednesday, March 21, were the same.

The second community meeting was hosted in Northwest Junior High’s Little Theater. The public was invited to ask assistant superintendent Ann Feldmann and other members of the leadership team about their current proposals to redraw boundaries for the local elementary and junior high schools, focusing specifically on the junior high plan.

Currently, the district proposes redirecting students from Wickham Elementary from North Central Junior High, where they currently attend, to Northwest Junior High. Moving these estimated 128 students is intended to alleviate North Central’s overcrowding while using Northwest to its full capacity. Final redistricting plans will be finalized this May and implemented for the 2013-2014 school year.

Among the most frequently offered feedback was the concern that the district’s data is faulty, and does not take into account the expectation of accelerated growth in North Liberty and along Camp Cardinal – which would increase Northwest’s population and potentially send it over capacity in the near future. Northwest is currently 165 students under its 800 student capacity, according to the leadership team’s calculations.

One parent commented, “There doesn’t seem to be any long term plan” – an observation met with applause by the audience and repeated by others throughout the forum. Many questioned whether or not they would find themselves shifted once again in a few years.

Feldmann explained that the district “does the best it can with numbers we have” – saying that rather than build additions, the school board has mandated that the district utilize all available space, which is what the plan aims to do.

The leadership team was specifically asked to investigate elementary and junior high boundaries only, creating a plan that would complement any changes made on the high school level. However, many contributors asked for a discussion of the options being considering regarding the boundary between City and West and a potential third high school – with several participants from Wickham discouraging the redirection of Wickham students to City High..

Feldmann said that the district hadn’t redrawn boundaries for almost 20 years, but was corrected by a Wickham parent who said that his family had undergone redistricting five times since starting at Wickham – impacted by changes like Borlaug Elementary and North Central  Junior High.

Community members who were not at the meeting, but wish to offer feedback can do so using the form available at iowacityschools.com.