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CCA boundary committee fine-tunes scenarios

Public input meeting to be held Aug. 26

By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader

TIFFIN– The attendance and boundary study committee for the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Community School District has met four times and refined a number of elementary school attendance area boundary scenarios.
Soon it will be your turn to speak your piece and have your thoughts and concerns heard, documented and taken into consideration.
The committee along with RSP & Associates, the consulting firm hired by the district to facilitate the committee’s discussions and decision-making process, will host a public input meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 26, at the high school in Tiffin. The event will start at 6 p.m. in the auditorium with a brief presentation by district superintendent Tim Kuehl and RSP staff. From there participants will move to the commons area where they will have the opportunity to view scenario maps and discuss them with committee members.
Rob Schwarz, principal planner for RSP, spoke with the group at its Thursday, Aug. 7, meeting, preparing them for the encounters they will have with the public. Schwarz told them an entirely new map (of elementary school attendance areas) could come from the meeting, and noted “People will be reacting to what affects them.” What is desired, he said, is “good, robust input.”
Schwarz emphasized the committee members should not try to “sell” any particular scenario or attempt to sway opinions. They will be there, he reminded them, solely to answer questions and serve as a listening post while emphasizing that no decisions have been made at this point. Attendees will also be asked to fill out an exit survey (which will also be available online through the district’s web page).
Almost certainly, the members will hear a number of concerns from residents of Tiffin.
At the start of the Aug. 7 meeting, members relayed comments they’d heard from people who felt they were promised that their kids would attend the new elementary, which is under construction on the east side of Tiffin, if they lived in Tiffin or in the surrounding area.
However various scenarios, drawn up only for discussion and not a firm plan at this point, suggest sending the newest subdivisions on the west side of Tiffin to Clear Creek Elementary in Oxford. Or, putting the dividing line between North Bend Elementary in North Liberty and the new school within a mile or two of the as-yet unnamed building.
Other concerns from Tiffin center on the new building being filled to capacity as soon as it opens, much like how North Bend was at capcity within a few years of its opening, necessitating an expansion, and a desire for neighborhood schools.
The perception that promises were made (“If you live in Tiffin, you’ll go to Tiffin) led to much discussion as to when and how they were made. Committee member and former school board member Aimee Pitlick called it an assumption which, she noted, was never countered. Kuehl said he understood the perception, but was at a loss as to how it would have been perpetuated either by the board or administration.
“That wasn’t communicated that way,” Kuehl said. Committee member Shawna Colvin, who had served on the facility committee ahead of the bond referendum, added Kuehl had said at one of the pre-election public forums, it was “more than likely” all of Tiffin’s elementary students would go to the new school, but he had also said it was not guaranteed.
Throughout the redistricting process, the committee has looked at enrollment numbers, both current and projected, and the capacity of the buildings, both educational and structural. Demographic information (where students and likely future students are or will be located) as well as the district’s current bus routes and the amount of time students spend riding busses was also taken into consideration.
The committee will review the results of the public input meeting at its fifth and final meeting on Thursday, Sept. 4, with the goal of coming to a consensus and forming a final recommendation to be presented to the school board. The board is scheduled to consider the recommendation at a work session on Wednesday, Sept. 10, and to adopt a final plan at its regular monthly meeting Wednesday, Sept. 17, with a full-press effort to communicate the changes starting soon after.
The new elementary is due to be open for the 2015-2016 school year, as is the addition to the middle school, also in Tiffin, while the high school is scheduled to have an expansion in the 2017-2018 school year. All three projects were included in the $48 million bond issue voters approved in February.