WHY SHOULD NORTH CORRIDOR PARENTS CARE ABOUT THE HOOVER CLOSURE?
To many parents of schoolchildren in the North Corridor, the issue of whether to close Hoover Elementary may not seem terribly important. But parents across the Iowa City Community School District should care deeply about this issue. Here are reasons why:
1) The closure of Hoover Elementary will likely net an annual savings of just 0.2% of the annual operating budget, but will cost at least $5M to $8M to replace the lost elementary capacity. This huge sum of money is better spent elsewhere on the immediate needs of students across the district, including addressing overcrowding issues in the North Corridor. Tearing down Hoover Elementary at a time of enrollment growth is simply fiscally irresponsible. For more details, see
2) The issue of Hoover Elementary is indicative of how the school administration and school board have handled important decisions in the past few years. In the case of Hoover, both the administration and the board have been completely unresponsive to community input or requests for more information from the public. The broader Iowa City community has asked for sufficient explanation to justify closing a vibrant and successful school in the heart of Iowa City, but little information has been offered. For example, neither the administration nor the members of the school board have provided believable estimates for either what will be saved by closing Hoover Elementary or what it will cost to replace that lost capacity. Either they have those numbers and will not make them public because it weakens the case for closing Hoover, or they do not have those numbers and made the major decision to close an elementary school without sufficient information to make that decision. Either way, the extreme lack of transparency on the part of the administration and school board in the case of Hoover should be extremely unsettling to parents around the district. What will happen when an important issue arises in your neighborhood?
3) The candidates seeking to reconsider the necessity of the Hoover closure—Phil Hemingway, Tom Yates, Brian Richman, and Chris Liebig—are being painted as “single-issue” candidates by the opposition. This could not be further from the truth. Reading their candidate profiles from Holly Hines at the Press-Citizen (reproduced on the Save Hoover website below) makes clear that their biggest concern is not actually Hoover, but the very serious problem of the lack of transparency on the part of the present school administration and school board.
4) Superintendent Murley and members of the present school board are trying to sell the claim that the entire Facilities Master Plan hinges on the closure of Hoover Elementary. The absurdity of this claim should be obvious, but there are simple examples to disprove this claim. Minor adjustments of the Master Plan, in fact, would keep Hoover open with minimal impact on the rest of the proposed improvements promised by the plan. One such plan was proposed BEFORE the school board voted to close Hoover in 2013
but the school board never even discussed this proposed amendment before voting to close Hoover. The lack of responsiveness to community input has been a hallmark of the school board in recent years (with attempts even to limit public comment at meetings), and this needs to change.
5) The best way to ensure success of the Facilities Master Plan, in fact, is not to close any neighborhood schools at all. This is exactly what the community wants. It was made clear, by a two-to-one margin in the facilities planning process in 2013, and it remains just as true today, that the community wants to keep all of our neighborhood schools intact. These schools are what make the Iowa City community a great place to live, and what has provided our children with a top-notch education. Closing schools is deeply unpopular with the public, and will endanger the passage of the upcoming $100M to $200M bond request. Without this bond passing in 2017, the Facilities Master Plan will indeed fail.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
How can we ensure that our schools get the renovations that were promised by the Revenue Purpose Statement vote, and that we can grow responsibly to accommodate present and future needs? We need to ensure that we have strong leadership that will provide critical oversight of the school administration. We need school board members dedicated to transparent, responsible, and accountable leadership, especially when our community is soon to asked to incur a huge debt to pay for needed growth and improvements. The four candidates who have expressed the strongest voices on this front are
Please consider voting on September 8th for these four candidates who will ensure fiscal responsibility as we accommodate growth across the district, particularly in the North Corridor.