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Parents Weigh In on Redistricting

IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- Equity was the name of the game at a public input meeting where dozens of parents, teachers, and community weighed in on how the Iowa City Community School District should redraw its boundaries for elementary schools on Thursday night.

The meeting was the second is a series of cluster meetings, designed to hone in on the interests of community members in various sections of the school district, and rank how those interests should be weighted in the redistricting process.

Participants were broken up into groups and asked to comment on and weigh a series of parameters, and for many, the conversation veered toward the district's diversity policy.

"Not having an overload of socioeconomically challenged kids in one place, taxing the resources of the class and the school as a whole -- and maintaining equity of facilities," said one participant.

But when the groups got down to the nitty-gritty of defining which parameters should replace which students in which schools, even they got hung up on the idea of equity.

"If I say to you, 'I'm bringing down my current classroom, but please welcome me into yours,' who's going to be like, 'Yeah, c'mon in,'? I mean I just don't think it's the tone that the conversation should take all the time, but I find that so frustrating," said participant Sara Barron.

Still, many say the most important thing is balancing the numbers of free and reduced lunch students to other. Research shows that schools with more than 50 percent of FRL students face extreme challenges in the classroom. But the participants Wednesday night don't know quite how the district should move students because of that.

"Aren't they supposed to be reviewing plans every so often anyway now, so we don't get into this situation again? I mean, plan but be flexible," said one participant.

Some teachers said, it is all about giving every student the best chance at an education, no matter what.

"As hard as we try and no matter what curriculum we have or how many reading teachers, or whatever, according to that school, without it being more balanced, I can't look my kids in the eye and tell them, 'This is the best we can do,'" said Twain Elementary School teacher Stacey Medd.

The district will unveil its first series of redistricting scenarios on April 7. Find out more information at iowacityschools.org.
 
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