Iowa City School Board Wants to Add Third High School

IOWA CITY - On Tuesday night, the Iowa City school board said it wants to add a third comprehensive high school to the school district. That's one answer — a major one — a lot of people have been waiting to hear during the district's current redistricting process. But it left a big question on the table: When will the school be built?

Board members said they don't know but indicated it could be a while.

"I think it (a third high school) is a viable option," Toni Cilek said, "and we need to keep it on the table and just figure out how to get there."

The board's decision will now shape how the district redraws its school boundaries. Members met in a work session last night, will have a public forum May 4 and plan to vote on a redistricting plan in the coming weeks.

Numbers, in terms of money and enrollment, have been driving factors in the high school decision. District officials have said they'd like to build a new high school, but that they don't believe the enrollment will be there to support it for a few years — and the district also won't have the money to operate it.

The majority of board members said it didn't make sense to spend the money to build school additions if a third high school would be needed at some point in the future.

Member Tuyet Dorau asked that the board set "trigger points" to keep the district moving toward the new school. For example, the first one would be buying land.

Outgoing Superintendent Lane Plugge said he too supports a new high school, because growth will make it necessary in the long term.

Last summer, the district projected the school would open with about 600 students. Its operating costs were estimated at $1.7 million annually.
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