Guest Opinion: If not now, when?


Anthony Vazquez

FILE – In this April 17, 2017 file photo Iowa City High School is seen in Iowa City, Iowa. (Anthony Vazquez/The Daily Iowan, file)

The whole process of facilities equity in our public schools started with a committee formed by the School District in 1999. There was one representative from each school in the district on the committee. Nothing substantial came out of that committee, and nothing had been done in the previous decades to develop any kind of a long-range plan for our district. Since that time, a Facilities Master Plan was finally developed by a committee representing all of the municipalities in our district with input from hundreds if not thousands of parents, staff, and community members. 

The magnitude of this plan touches or will touch every corner of our district and every school. Because many students in our district are here for the full K-12 experience, they will see the changes in three different buildings as they progress through the system.  There will be renovations,
additions, and new construction.  

The fact that the first half of the planned projects have been finished or are in progress without being tied to bond language should be proof that our School Board and administration are following the plan.  All the projects have come in under budget and on time.

Ask the school communities of Twain, Penn, Lucas, Coralville Central, Alexander, new Hoover, Liberty, City High, West High, Weber, Van Allen, and Hills about their projects.  Go look at Longfellow’s progress this year.  Ask them if the School Board and administration can be trusted.

Are we really willing to say no to Mann, Lincoln, Northwest, South East, North Central, Coralville Kirkwood, Lemme, Shimek, Borlaug, Garner, Grant Wood, Wickham, and Horn?  Are we willing to say no to all of the high schools with projects to finish in the next phase?  Are we willing to say no to a new elementary in the north?

Some are saying that we need a redo, a new plan, lots of smaller plans.  This is what we have been doing for decades and little if anything has gotten done,
especially in our older schools. We have been kicking the can down the road, stalling, and living with facilities inequities while one committee after another failed to make progress. No plan will ever be perfect, no plan will ever satisfy every want and/or need, and no plan will be the final
solution to every facility need in our district.

The kindergartners who started in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 as well as the ones who started in 2006 and are currently seniors have not had many of the master-plan benefits our current and future students will have.  The time is now — actually, well past now — to invest in our district facilities for our students, our staff, and our community.

— Jean Jordison

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