Iowa City Community School District continues planning for expansion of preschool program

Superintendent Matt Degner expressed optimism for municipalities helping fund the expanded preschool program, but revealed a funding source has not yet been found during the Iowa City Community School District school board meeting Tuesday,


Johnny Jarnagin

Iowa City Community School District School board members listen to speakers during a meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022.

Jack Moore, News Reporter

The Iowa City Community School District continues to search for funding to create an expanded preschool system.

Superintendent Matt Degner said at the school board meeting Tuesday that the municipalities of North Liberty, Coralville, Iowa City, the Hills, and University Heights are open fund the 2024-25 preschool proposal, but the district is still discussing options. 

The preschool proposal seeks to provide preschool opportunities for as many children as possible in the district, provide preschool offerings for district families that qualify for the Free or Reduced-Price Lunch Program, and manage the operational costs of the program. 

One of the reasons the district proposed the project is because the district reported that 280 students in the 2022-23 kindergarten class did not have access preschool. To fund this project, the district is looking for help from area municipalities, which include North Liberty, Coralville, Iowa City, Hills, and University Heights.

Degner told the board that Iowa City has conversed with the district about providing funds for the preschool program.

“Iowa City remains interested in exploring this effort,” he said. “They’d like to better understand how the proposal impacts some of the community wage enhancement that they’ve been providing to childcare providers.” 

RELATED: Iowa City Community School District requests expanded preschool program

Degner said Iowa City is waiting to make a commitment for program funding until the legislation session on property tax reform has concluded. 

“They want to continue the conversation and the collaboration, but they want to understand, you know, some of those impacts to the childcare community, impacts to them on the legislative session,” he said. 

As for the other municipalities, Degner said North Liberty is scheduled to talk about this topic again April 11. He said Coralville does not have a date set as of yet. 

The small municipality of Hills also agreed to continue conversations with the school district surrounding funding, and University Heights representatives said they are still discussing with other municipalities and may have an answer by April 1. 

Degner said the municipalities all seemed interested, and he was optimistic for their responses. 

“I think we’re making good progress and having some good conversations,” he said. “It’s a big change, and there’s going to be details to be worked out sensitive to those and how it impacts municipalities.”