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Iowa City School Board Moves Forward with Growth Plan

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- "Don't close neighborhood schools" -- that was the message Tuesday night, as the Iowa City Community School District board heard a formal proposal for two separate, but similar, plans to address aging infrastructure and growth in the area.

The board was met with fiery comments from the public, accusing it of a lack of transparency, among other things.

Parents who spoke out were fired up about keeping their elementary schools open, because both plans set forth by committee would close at least one school.

Plan A would make Hoover a swing school, then close it to make room for growth at City High.

Plan B would make Hoover, Hills and Lincoln into swing schools before eventually closing them. Both plans raised a lot of questions.

"Where are my kids going to go to school?" asked Mary Kate Pilcher Hayek.

Hayek said the board didn't provide enough proof for why Hoover needed to be closed, even if it was for growth at City High. And some leaned on the looming school board election for backing, saying that the vast majority of people did not approve of closing Hoover.

"The fact that that's the prevailing sentiment, beyond those meetings, I think is apparent in the fact that we haven't seen any school board candidates running on the platform of closing schools," parent Chris Liebig said, to a round of applause.

Families from Hills didn't want to see their elementary school shut down, either. Hills Bank Manager Kelsey Redlinger said the school was integral to the community.

"Cherish is not too strong of a word," he said of the town's feelings for the school.

Parents also accused the board of not being transparent with the plans, saying they lied and deceived the public, but the board fired back, asking the public not to accuse them of making a decision before that actually happened.

"I think a little respect is what's needed on both sides as opposed to premature accusations," said board member Tuyet Dorau.

Among other things, both plans would also allow for a new, third high school that would accommodate 1,500 students.

The board agreed to meet for a work session on July 16 at 6 p.m. to address questions and concerns, and will vote on the plan at the regular session meeting on July 23.
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