IOWA CITY– Steady, slow growth is projected for the next several years in the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD), as explained by Geoffrey Smith, a doctoral candidate in geography at the University of Iowa. Smith presented his report on district enrollment to the board members Aug. 23, and answered their questions.
According to Smith, over the next five years, the district is expected to grow by almost 10 percent, or 628 students.
Enrollment numbers at the junior high level garnered considerable discussion, as the district may look to relieve an over-capacity West High with a new high school.
North Central Junior High, the likely feeder for a new high school, is expected to continue increasing enrollment. Numbers of all school-age children in southeast and northwest attendance areas will also increase, even as the number of seventh and eighth graders in those areas may level off or decline slightly over the next five years.
A June 2010 board decision set a threshold of 3,750 high school students at West, City or Tate High Schools, which would trigger construction of a new high school. That limit will likely be reached between 2015 and 2019.
Smith’s report is available at the district website, part of the Aug. 23 board agenda.
Presenting numbers of a different sort was the district’s Director of Instruction Pam Ehly, who reported on student academic performance. She said ICCSD’s ACT scores were the highest in the 25-year history, topping the state and national averages.
Board member Sarah Swisher felt the bottom 25 percent of students who perform below national proficiency levels could be broken out further by socioeconomic factors.
“The thing that we have not addressed sufficiently in my mind, are the demographics of our individual buildings,” she said.
She asked that the district take “a demographic approach to our elementary districts” by breaking out specifics for schools as related to poverty levels and minority groups who live in poverty.
The board discussed sending the academic ends policy back to the district’s governance committee for more specific language.
Board president Patti Fields recommended that administration and curriculum staff attend the next governance committee work session that looks at the language of the academic ends policy.
After some hesitation, outgoing board member Toni Cilek concurred. “We need a governance committee meeting,” said Cilek.
Ehly told the board that the academic data collected and presented annually has become useful in seeing the district’s in seeing strengths and limitations. She added, “It has been instructive in that teaching, learning, and monitoring student achievement process.”
Board member Gayle Klouda did not attend the meeting.
The next ICCSD board meeting falls on the school board election date, Tuesday, Sept 13.