Letters: In support of the ICCSD GO bond vote

Letters to the Editor

> As the long-time principal of Hills Ele­mentary, I watched for many years as the school district took a less-planned ap­proach to addressing facility needs. Where there was rapid growth, a new school was built or renovated. This frequently left our older schools forgotten. My school was often considered later in the thinking pro­cess because it seemed small, and was not deemed worthy of attention.

The ICCSD’s 10-year Facility Master Plan is designed to be a comprehensive approach to improving all of our schools and, with four years down and six years yet to go, it’s time that we put aside our differences and vote yes for our kids and our teachers.

Hills Elementary has already benefited with renovations from the Facility Master Plan, and the families of Hills will contin­ue to benefit from the bond-dependent work yet to be done at Northwest Junior High and West High over the next three years. With bond passage, all of our ele­mentary schools will be air conditioned and ADA-accessible by 2019, with the junior highs finished by 2020 and high schools completed by 2021. These are not options but necessities.

The Hills community is thriving. The school is growing and has the highest en­rollment in many years with more than 200 students – nearly double what it was just four years ago. If the school contin­ues to grow as anticipated, there may even be the need for additional space at Hills – however, none of that will happen until other school projects are completed, and that takes passage of the bond. A vote yes on Sept. 12 ensures that we can contin­ue to focus on teaching our students and plan for the future of all our neighbor­hood schools.

John Marshall is a former principal of Hills Elementary.


> As a long time elementary teacher and reading recovery teacher in the Iowa City Community School District, I had the opportunity to work in several different buildings. I can attest to the huge dispar­ities between our schools, as well as to the negative impact that they can have on students and teachers. I am referring to things such as no air conditioning, lack of accessibility for all and adequate space in the building to accommodate the best programming for all of our students.

I applaud the district for taking the initiative in 2013 to thoughtfully create a comprehensive 10-year Facility Master Plan that addresses many of these inequi­ties. An impressive list of renovation and construction projects has been completed over the past four years – apparently on time and under budget. I enthusiastical­ly support the long-term Facility Master Plan as opposed to the patch, patch, patch process that has often been the case previ­ously. I will be voting for the general obli­gation bond this September in order that this more comprehensive and proactive plan can continue. With updated facili­ties, more energy and resources can be fo­cused on the important teaching/learning inside the classroom.

Join me in voting yes for our students and teachers on Sept. 12. They need our help. We can’t afford to let them down.

Nancy Ross is a former ICCSD educator liv­ing in Coralville.


> The opening of Liberty High on Aug. 12 represents an exciting time for our com­munity. The 10-year Facility Master Plan has started transforming our schools into healthy, equitable learning spaces that we can be proud to send all of our children to. The plan’s commitment to our historic older schools and neighborhoods, while addressing explosive, historic growth, is a carefully balanced ballet of pressing needs, project management and funding.

We have committed to art and music, while adding air conditioning and ADA accessibility. We have added classrooms, while increasing energy efficiency and de­creasing our carbon footprint. All projects have been completed on time and under budget, but there is still much to do.

Looking back over the past four years, there has also been a transformation oc­curring inside the classroom. The achieve­ment gap affecting our most vulnerable students has existed for far too long in our schools. We, as a community, cannot af­ford to give up on any student and should remain focused on helping every one of them achieve their greatest potential.

In 2013, I proposed that our schools were a barometer for the health of our community and that we were at a critical crossroads. By supporting the bond this September, we can take that final step to­ward a healthier future together as one community that supports public educa­tion in a time when there is vast uncertain­ty in our state and nation. We can do this and we owe it to our students to double down on their future. I may be ending my term on the board, but I’m still fired up about our commitment to education. Let’s get to work, folks. It starts with your vote.

Brian Kirschling is a member of the Iowa City Community School Board.