Sunday, November 10, 2013

Swapping Sides

I mentioned in my prior post that I had two concerns about the revised phasing plan. The first concern was about capacity. I argued that there will likely be too few seats at the elementary level overall and that, up through 2020-2021, North Liberty and Coralville will be particularly burdened by not having the new North elementary school coming online until 2020-2021.

In the process of investigating these concerns, my second concern came to the fore. I realized that I have no idea how the administration and board are planning to distribute the elementary schools that will eventually feed into each of the three comprehensive high schools.

The table shows the distribution of capacity at the three comprehensive high schools. If each of them were at capacity, then West would have 35% of the students in the district, City would have 33%, and the North High School would have 31% (all are rounded to the nearest percent). I assumed that we would want the elementary schools that feed each of these high schools to be proportional in size to the high schools. To illustrate this roughly, I multiplied the percentage by the total capacity for K-6th grade. The results shows that 2,891 students should feed City High, 3,062 students should feed West, and 2,728 students should feed the North High School. I realize these number could vary, but it is a good, rough guide.

 In the table above, I've included capacity numbers for all the schools that could ultimately feed into City High. These schools are all currently or projected to be located within the current confines of the City High district. So, what's the problem? If you look at what I've labeled "TOTALS EAST," you'll see that there is capacity for 2,400 in those schools. If my figure of 2,891 is in the ballpark, then any two of these would put City High significantly above its capacity figures. For example, if you put Shimek and Mann together with the other 7 elementary schools, you'd have a capacity of 3,156, which would be about 36% of the district and likely the biggest and most crowded of the three high school. If you only add, say, Shimek, however, you only have 2,739 students which is about 150 students fewer than what it ought to be if the feeders were proportional.

So, I am assuming that two of these three schools will be redistricted under West High or the new North High School. Based on FRL rates, I suspect it would be Mann and the new South Elementary School.

Note also the differences between the projected enrollment and capacity. It appears that the new capacity at Mann will pull a number of students from the 6 current elementary schools districts in the top of the table, and they will be redistricted to one of Shimek, Mann, or the New South Elementary School, and then those kids could end up at West or the North High School. For example, it could very well be the case that a current Hoover student will be redistricted to Mann, and then will ultimately end up going to high school at West High or at the new North High School, even though that students lives less than a mile from City High.

It is pretty clear that under the revised phasing plan that the South Elementary School will probably be districted to West High, and Mann or Shimek will be redistricted away from City High. I do really think that the districting of the new South Elementary School to West High will be good for the district. It could pull some enrollment from the east side while balancing FRL to help bring the district in line with the diversity policy. And we will have to pull enrollment from the east side of the river to make the proportions at the three comprehensive high school work out. What seems strange, however, is that we are tearing down capacity on the east side just to replace it, and then we will send the students who are in those districts to the other side of town and away from the high school that is, in some cases, less than a mile away.


  1. I'm not sure if you've noticed it but while they all pretend that building new schools is an issue of building for capacity, the reason they would build caoacity just to close it elsewhere nearby is because any new school they build escapes SINA/NCLB difficulties for years. closing older smaller schools to do it buys their way out of SINA with the simultaneous "befenefit" they can "gain" in cost of size savings...really pay attention to the former which you will notice little spoken by board members and administration. They aren't closing the older schools just for alleged cost savings, they're selling the district's soul to buy their way out of SINA/NCLB.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Julie. I don't know enough about how SINA/NCLB works right now with regard to ICCSD to notice these trends. It is something I should read more about.