Sunday, November 10, 2013

Proposal for Modifying the Revised Phasing Plan

I sent the proposal included below to the School Board and Superintendent.

Proposal to Amend The Revised Phasing Plan

There are two significant problems with the proposal before the board.

First, based on the expected growth and capacity in, for example, the 2018-2019 school year, elementary students in Coralville and Western Iowa City will lack a combined 442 seats and in North Liberty, they will lack a combined 339 seats. The new North Elementary School will not be used by residents until 2020-2021.

Second, the capacity for all elementary schools at the end of the phasing process will have space for approximately 8,681, not including the 230 preschool students (2012-2013) or schools that are not filled to capacity, but we are expected to have 8,317 students at that time. If you add the current 230 preschoolers to that figure (a figure which will surely be on the rise), the total comes to 8,547 assuming every single school is filled to capacity. This will put us at 98.4% capacity after all the capacity additions over the next 10 years. It would also be helpful to know whether special programs capacity is included in the enrollment projections from the DeJong-Ritcher report.


1. Flip the timetables for completing the North and East Elementary Schools.

2. Keep Hoover open and do a full renovation, but not a capacity addition. Alternatively, do not close Hoover until after Longfellow, Mann, and Lincoln have swung through the new East Elementary School, which would probably be in 2021-2022.

3. Delay the expansions of Longfellow and Mann until after the East Elementary School is completed. Consider doing both renovations simultaneously with a 4-plex modular, if needed.


1. Relieves burdens related to capacity inadequacies in Northern and Western part of the district by building the North Elementary School earlier.

2. By not being tied to closing Hoover in 2019, there is less need to expedite the East Elementary School and the expansions of Longfellow and Mann.

3. Keeping Hoover open will give us more space to handle growth.

4. Keeps an effective, and relatively cost-effective school in operation; removing a divisive issue.

Possible Objections to the Proposal:

1. Expanding City High could be more challenging without closing Hoover during Phase II.

2. There may be parking problems at City High.

3. There may be problems finding sufficient space for extracurricular activities on City High grounds.

4. The delayed expansions to Longfellow and Mann will delay needed renovations at the building.

Response to Possible Objections:

Response to 1: Cramped expansion

A. During the initial phasing proposal, it was an acceptable cost to be cramped during expansion until new classrooms and construction were completed. Recall that the entirety of the City High expansion was completed before Hoover was to be demolished.

B. Over the next 7 years, we could attempt to purchase land near Hoover/CH to alleviate the burden. This could be done periodically over time as space becomes available.

C. City High's expansion could be slightly reduced to 1,500 rather than 1,590, and it would be equal in size to the new comprehensive high school. This modification would likely be cheaper, and it is within the acceptable range to mitigate equity concerns. Furthermore, the savings would likely to sufficient to fund full renovations of Hoover.

Response to 2: Parking

A. On a warm September day and a cold November day, the number of unmarked, available parking spots were counted number during peak times of attendance. There were 81 and 64 unmarked, available spots on those days.

B. City High currently has 1,540 students. Based on current driving practices of students, it does not need increased parking unless current parking is eliminated.

C. Reducing the expansion to 1,500 would alleviate parking even more.

D. The amount of parking spaces should be made on the basis of the driving habits of the likely inhabitants of the students at a school rather than having the same number of parking spots at each of the three comprehensive high schools.

Response to 3: Extracurricular space

A. Consider Chadek field as a possible venue for a practice field/court. It is within two blocks of campus, and the owners have indicated willingness to sell for the right price.

B. As above, consider buying property as it becomes available in lots adjacent to Hoover/CH. There are a number of years before the expansions will be complete, and that gives us time to buy lots as they become available for extracurricular activities.

C. Reducing the expansion to 1,500 would alleviate, in part, the need for more extracurricular space.

D. If Options A and B are unable to resolve the issue, then consider having some extracurricular activities further from campus but still relatively close. This is a cost that is outweighed by (1) the risk of having a significant number of elementary students in modulars, and (2) the risk to the whole community that comes about by losing Hoover Elementary.

Response to 4: Delaying Needed Renovations to Longfellow and Mann

A. Doing the renovations simultaneously by swinging them both to the new 500 capacity Elementary School would mitigate this objection.

B. It is only a temporary delay of these renovations until after the new East Elementary is opened. This is a cost that is outweighed by the benefits to the entire district.

C. If the renovations are urgently needed at Longfellow and Mann, then perhaps we can do the renovations without the capacity additions, which would (1) save the money and (2) could be used on a 4th new elementary school as it is needed.

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