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Iowa City Council to Look at School District's Diversity Policy

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UPDATE: The Iowa City council decided not to pursue a recommendation to the school board to add a “walkability clause” to the diversity policy during a work session Tuesday night. The issue was discussed during a work session and was never formally voted on.

Mayor Matt Hayek indicated earlier in the day that he did not want to micro-manage another governing body.

The previous story is below:

IOWA CITY, Iowa — City council members plan to discuss the possibility of asking the school board to put a “walkability clause” into the controversial diversity policy at a work session tonight. The already approved policy is aimed at creating a better ratio across the district of kids on the free and reduced lunch program.

In the last year many parents have feared the policy will send their kids across town, away from neighborhood schools. The policy will effect up to 1,500 students by the fall of 2015.

Such a clause would mean students living within a half-mile of an elementary school with a safe walking route would not be redistricted. It would have to be adopted by the school board.

The city council was approached by the planning and zoning commission about possibly adding the clause. Mayor Matt Hayek said he doesn’t know that the council would move forward with such a recommendation to the school board. Hayek also said at this time it’s not clear whether or not the planning and zoning commission has formally asked the council to do so.

“I think we want to be careful,” he said. “I just don’t know how much we will get into it.”

All the city council can do is make a recommendation to the school board, which the board would not have to act on.

Councilmember Kinsley Botchway said he thinks the board may want to reconsider some of the policy, given all the ongoing controversy and concern.

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