Iowa City school board to discuss whether to have classes on MLK Day

Board members at odds over changing school calendar, holding classes

The Iowa City school board will discuss whether to have classes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day during a special meeting Dec. 17.

The board is under pressure from the public to cancel classes on the Jan. 20 federal holiday.

The district in recent years has had teachers and staff work on Martin Luther King Jr. Day but classes were not held. Administrators this year planned a day of service and other civil rights-related activities and lessons. But the decision to have school that day has been criticized as disrespectful by some community members.

The school board this week told Superintendent Stephen Murley to explore options for holding the activities another day. Some board members indicated they do not want classes to be held Jan. 20, but others expressed reservations about changing the school calendar.

Murley said a change would require an agreement with the teachers union because the calendar is part of the collective bargaining process. He also said adding a day to the end of the school year may be the best way to make a switch, but he warned that would present a “significant challenge” with graduation.

There are some limited options available at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, where graduation ceremonies are held, Murley said in an email Friday. He also said that, in general, options for making the day up “are somewhat limited” and the district is working with the state to ensure all requirements are met if the board decides to adjust the calendar.The school board’s next scheduled meeting had been Jan. 14. The Dec. 17 meeting includes agenda items besides Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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