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Distributing diversity

PHOTO BY//AUDREY HOPEWELL

The Iowa City Community School District School Board will vote in Feb. for the third and final time on the proposed Diversity Policy. If passed, the policy will regulate the levels of students receiving free or reduced lunch among schools in the district. BY JULIANN SKARDA jskarda@wsspaper.com

T

he proposed Diversity Policy in the Iowa City Community School District awaits its third and final vote tentatively scheduled for the Feb. 5 school board meeting. According to Superintendent Steve Murley, the purpose of the policy is to evenly distribute students receiving free or reduced lunch throughout schools in the district. The goal is that, in five years’ time, no two schools will have more than a 30 percent difference in levels of FRL students.

Currently, the range of the distribution exceeds the proposed boundary. Schools such as Wickham and Lincoln Elementary have student populations comprised of about 6 percent FRL students, while 63 percent of students at Hills Elementary receive subsidized school meals. Proponents of the policy, such as school board member Sally Hoelscher, cite observational studies which show lower levels of students performing at or above proficiency on standardized reading tests in elementary schools with higher FRL student levels. “The educational experience of

the children in those schools— they’re great schools—but the educational experience is not all that it could be,” she said. Hoelscher addressed another counterargument to the policy about the redistricting of school boundaries. She said she believes the timing of redistricting for the policy is ideal since the board hopes to add three new elementary schools as well as a third high school, and the addition of these new facilities would already require the redrawing of boundaries. However, the narrow 4-3 passing of the second vote on Jan. 15 reflects the disagreement

4 NEWS FEBRUARY 2013 { A BOOK IS LIKE A GARDEN CARRIED IN THE POCKET. - ARAB PROVERB

amongst board members as well as community members. At a listening post on Jan. 12 held by board members to discuss the proposed policy, 35 people spoke about their opinions of the plan. Among them was West student Akash Borde ’15, who believes that slowing the process of the vote would ease unrest and confusion among community members. “Like I saw at the listening post, read in subsequent articles about the policy and observed during discussions in class, a large portion of the community is invested in what this policy means for them, and they all have ideas that de-

Feb. 1, 2013 issue  

West High's newsmagazine

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