The Iowa City school board Tuesday night wrapped up the bulk of its redistricting work by setting guidelines for building a new high school.
The board unanimously approved the final parts of Superintendent Lane Plugge’s five-step redistricting plan.
Whether to build a new high school, something the board has committed the district to, has divided the community between those who want a new school and others who say one is not immediately needed and is too expensive for the cash-strapped district.
The district’s plan sets trigger points for taking action on a new school. Once three-year enrollment projections estimate that high school enrollment will surpass 3,750 students, and actual sixth-grade enrollment nears 900 students, the district will start budget, design and boundary work for a new school.
That high school number is about all City High and West High could handle, Plugge said.
It would take three years to design and build a new school.
High school enrollment currently is about 3,140. Projections put that number at 3,704 in the fall of 2014.
The fourth step calls for beginning construction, and step five includes new high school boundaries and opening the school.
Plugge said before the meeting that the high school steps were the final immediate decisions left in the redistricting process, which began at the start of the school year.
That doesn’t mean the school board’s work is done, however. The five-step plan left some decisions for upcoming years. That includes the high school items and studying the imbalance of low-income students at the district’s schools.
At its last meeting, the board made several decisions, including shifting Lincoln and Hills elementary schools to City High. The district is considering letting current West High students stay at the school and allowing younger siblings to attend the same school.