Iowa City school board reinstates original boundaries for new Liberty High

4-3 vote determines route for Kirkwood Elementary students

A grader is parked by the academic wing at the under-construction Liberty High School in North Liberty on Wednesday, July 13, 2016. The school is slated to open in 2017. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
A grader is parked by the academic wing at the under-construction Liberty High School in North Liberty on Wednesday, July 13, 2016. The school is slated to open in 2017. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Iowa City school board members on Tuesday voted to reinstate the original attendance boundaries for the district’s new high school, expected to open in 2017.

The plan, approved in a 4-3 vote, sends Kirkwood Elementary students to North Central Junior High and then on to the new Liberty High, being built at the intersection of North Liberty Road and Dubuque Street in North Liberty.

The change in the attendance zone reverts back to a plan approved by the school board in May 2015.

After five new members were elected to the seven-member board in September 2015, the board voted 4-3 in May 2016 to reverse that decision and route Kirkwood students to Northwest Junior High and West High.

Board members in favor of routing Kirkwood students to Liberty High have said the move creates student bodies at Liberty, West and City high schools that are more equally balanced in terms of the socioeconomic status of students, while opponents have raised concerns about transportation barriers for low-income students.

Almost 70 percent of Kirkwood Elementary students are eligible for free-or-reduced meals.

The vote to send Kirkwood students to Northwest Junior High and West High — which are closer to Kirkwood than North Central and Liberty — was made days before board member Tom Yates resigned his position.

In a July special election, Paul Roesler was elected to fulfill the rest of Yates’ term.

Roesler made the motion Tuesday to approve the new boundaries, according to school board documents, effectively overturning Yates’ last vote.

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School Board President Chris Lynch said in July the special election in which Roesler was elected would serve as “an up-or-down vote on secondary boundaries and an up-or-down vote on equity.”

Roesler, Lynch, LaTasha DeLoach and Brian Kirschling voted in favor the secondary boundaries on Tuesday. Chris Liebig, Phil Hemingway and Lori Roetlin were opposed.

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