By Eric Hawkinson
North Liberty Leader
IOWA CITY– Despite significant support from resilient pro-Hoover Elementary School community members, the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) board of education decided on a scenario that leads to the school’s closure by 2017.
In a packed room at the ICCSD board meeting of Tuesday, July 23, president Marla Swesey pushed for a conclusive decision. This final selection of a facility plan fulfills reflects years of committee work and discussions that date back to 2009. Although the closure of schools was not an initial piece to the puzzle, board members now believe it is necessary if the district is to add other schools.
Board members agree a proposed third high school in the northern part of the district will force the district to make changes to City High School in order to remain a competitive size. With the closure of Hoover, City High will attain more real estate to match that growth– but some community members don’t see it that way.
“Build the third high school and see if that causes any problems,” said Hoover advocate Greg Gerdes, followed by applause from his counterparts in the crowd.
Dozens of community members donned red T-shirts with large white print that said “Save Hoover.” A portion of the meeting was opened for public comment, and the sentiment proved to be no different than previous meetings; there remains considerable concern from the public about closing any schools.
One unlikely candidate to speak at the meeting was six-year old Lily Lumb.
“I think Hoover’s special because I can walk to school and I like it because I don’t really like to drive that much,” Lumb said. “And I don’t really want to leave any of my friends.”
There is no current plan in place for what the district and City High will do with newly acquired space.
Swesey said she feels bad about closing Hoover, but it is necessary down the line; Hoover wouldn’t close until the 2017-2018 school year, when a new high school listed in the facilities plan would open. The construction plan includes building three new schools and the renovation of others, adding up to a cost of $260.4 million.
Still, some board members disagreed with the closure of Hoover. Tuyet Dorau said she feared how the new space would be used.
“I think the reality is we’re talking about Hoover becoming a parking lot or athletic fields,” Dorau said.
Other board members assured Dorau that any construction on Hoover’s location would be part of a holistic plan to add onto City High. In other words, whether or not the spot is turned into an athletic field or parking lot, the extra space was needed for any City High addition.
The board has made a final decision on the matter, but with its implementation five years down the road, it’s likely this is not the last time Hoover and other facilities will be a school district topic of discussion.