Education

Majority of voters favor demolition of former Iowa City Hoover, although ballot issue moot

Ballot issue nullified by Iowa Supreme Court ruling

Hoover Elementary School, 2200 E Court St., in Iowa City, Iowa, on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Hoover Elementary School, 2200 E Court St., in Iowa City, Iowa, on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Of people who voted on a nullified ballot issue about tearing down Iowa City’s former Hoover Elementary, the majority supported demolition.

The Iowa Secretary of State’s Office reported online 58.6 percent of 5,724 voters approved the ballot measure saying the Iowa City Community School District should demolish the school at 2200 E. Court St.

Johnson County did not report the results Tuesday and asked the state to take down the reported data because the ballot question was rendered moot by an Oct. 18 Iowa Supreme Court ruling. The Secretary of State since has removed the ballot issue results from its website.

Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert said Wednesday the results may be misleading because thousands of voters skipped the question, possibly because the office had announced the results would not be tabulated.

The Supreme Court unanimously reversed a 2017 District Court decision saying the Iowa City Community School District should have put on the ballot a question about demolishing the former Hoover Elementary.

“We conclude that the demolition of a school building is not a disposition under Iowa Code section 278.1(1)(b) and that the school district properly determined that because the ballot measure was not ‘authorized by law,’ it was under no legal obligation to require the county auditor to place the matter on the ballot,” the Oct. 18 opinion said.

The school district has not yet decided what to do with the former Hoover site, which now is serving as a temporary site for Tate High School, which is undergoing an expansion.

A new Hoover Elementary opened in 2017 at 1355 Barrington Rd.

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The Iowa City School Board decided in 2013 to close the former Hoover as part of a master facilities plan that called for upgrades at schools across the district. Hoover parents fought the closure even as the district tried to gain public support for the facilities plan.

The lawsuit, filed in 2017 by Heather Young, Del Holland and Blake Hendrickson, said the district should have included the planned demolition of the school in a Sept. 12, 2017, referendum on the facilities plan.

Although a petition by the plaintiffs had the required number of signatures, the district did not forward it to the Johnson County Auditor so it could be part of the ballot question, the lawsuit states.

Days before the 2017 vote, Johnson County Judge Sean McPartland ruled the district illegally had dismissed the petition and he ordered the district to put the question on the next regular election ballot, which was the Nov. 5 election. The Supreme Court overruled McPartland’s decision, but not before the ballots already were printed.

Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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