Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Please attend the June 16 meeting!

Two school board members, Chris Lynch and Orville Townsend, will be meeting with parents and community members who are concerned about the future of Hoover Elementary on Tuesday, June 16 at 5:30 p.m. in Meeting Room A at the Iowa City Public Library. The meeting is organized by the Hoover PTA’s Hoover Advocacy Committee.

Please come out and show your support for Hoover!

How you can help Save Hoover

The goal of Save Hoover is to elect school board members who will reverse the decision to close Hoover. How can you help? At this stage, the best thing we can do as a group is to make our presence felt. Here are several ways:

  • Write a letter to the editor of the Press-Citizen or the Gazette about keeping Hoover open. (Scroll down to see some that have already been published.)
  • Raise the Hoover issue when you meet school board members and candidates.
  • Attend the meeting with school board members Chris Lynch and Orville Townsend about Hoover’s future. The meeting is on Tuesday, June 16, at 5:30 p.m. in Meeting Room A at the Iowa City Public Library.
  • Talk to your friends in other attendance areas about the reasons to keep Hoover open.
  • Consider contributing to the Save Hoover Committee. The Committee plans to publicize the candidates’ positions on Hoover and get out the vote for pro-Hoover candidates. (The link to donate is in the sidebar.)

As we get closer to Election Day (September 8), there will more opportunities to get involved—for example, by helping distribute campaign literature, attending candidate forums, displaying a yard sign, helping get out the vote, etc. Let us know you’re interested by emailing us savehooveric [ at ] gmail [ dot ] com, and we’ll keep you posted on opportunities to help.

Thank you!

Hoover School closure not an isolated issue

The following guest opinion by Chris Liebig appeared in the May 13 Press-Citizen:

Last month, our school district’s administrators released several possible “updates” to the district’s facilities plan. All of the updates continued to close Hoover Elementary, and two of the three updates would have closed additional elementary schools as well.

District officials were taken aback by the coverage of the updates, which emphasized the possibility of more school closings. The “recommended” update closed only Hoover, they argued, not the other schools. The other updates were just “thought exercises,” the superintendent said.

But no one had to look very far for evidence that the administration is inclined to close more schools. During the facilities planning process two years ago, many of the scenarios included school closures, and some would have closed multiple schools — even though district enrollment is projected to grow. And, of course, the school board did vote to close a school, Hoover, even though the majority of the public feedback favored keeping all existing schools open.

As the school board election approaches, the people who support the Hoover closure will try to convince you that it is somehow unique. “We want to close Hoover,” the argument will go, “but don’t worry, we’d never want to close your school.”

But a candidate’s support for closing Hoover tells you something: it shows a willingness to close a school for less-than-compelling reasons. For there have never been convincing reasons to close Hoover. We were told that we can save money by having fewer, larger schools — but any savings is dwarfed by the millions it will cost to replace Hoover’s lost capacity. We were also told that City High needs the Hoover property for — well, for something, someday. (Don’t ask what.)

Anyone who finds those reasons convincing will have no trouble finding reasons to close additional schools, such as Horace Mann, Lincoln, Hills, Longfellow and Shimek — all of which are significantly smaller than Hoover and thus cheaper to replace elsewhere.

The administration’s “updates” made it clear that the issue of school closings is not going away. If you think we should value our existing elementary schools, rather than close some and super-size others, you should ask this year’s board candidates where they stand on the issue.

And if the answer is, “I support closing Hoover, but I’m against school closures,” you’d be smart to look for another candidate.

Hoover Elementary still alive and well

The following letter to the editor by Kristine Lumb and Erin Kaufman appeared in the May 9 Press-Citizen:

The Press-Citizen recently reported that the Iowa City Community School Board approved schematic design documents for the new elementary school located on the east edge of Iowa City.

The article referred to the new school as Hoover, not “Hoover East,” the name the board has agreed to use to differentiate the new school from the Hoover that already exists and that has served Iowa City's children for six decades.

While the construction of new schools marks an exciting time for the district, it is important to remember there is already a Hoover Elementary, alive and well.

Despite possible closure in 2019, Hoover Elementary remains at the center of a thriving community. Students and families have spent the year celebrating the school’s 60th anniversary. We have marched in a parade, taken field trips, and welcomed members of a presidential family. We have learned about the world and how to be caring, courageous, honest, respectful, and responsible citizens. We have welcomed incoming kindergarteners and will see sixth graders transition to junior high. In short, we are still here.

In fact, many want to see Hoover thrive beyond 2019. The Save Hoover Committee (http://savehoover.blogspot.com) is working to make known the good reasons for keeping Hoover open, with the ultimate goal of preventing its closure. Save Hoover will work to get the word — and the vote — out in the upcoming board election.

Hoover is a tight-knit community of students, families and neighbors that will not be replaced by simply transferring its name to a new school.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Get involved in Save Hoover

If you support keeping Hoover School open, the time to become active is now. The next school board election is less than six months away. Four of the seven board seats are up for election. It’s very possible that none of the board members who voted to close Hoover will still be on the board six months from now. This is our best opportunity to reverse the closure decision.

Also, the school district’s administrators recently released possible “updates” to the facilities plan, some of which would close more schools, such as Horace Mann, Lincoln, and Hills. This confirms what Hoover advocates have been saying all along: that the Hoover closure is really about shifting away from central neighborhood schools toward having much larger elementary schools farther from where people live. These “updates” will make even more people aware of the importance of the school closure issue as we head into the board election.

To get involved, contact SaveHooverIC@gmail.com. We plan to make a big effort in the board election. We’ll need your help to spread the word about Hoover and to work toward electing board members who won’t close schools.

Ten reasons Hoover School should stay open

It’s been almost two years since the school board voted to close Hoover School as of 2019, but the reasons to keep the school open are as strong as they have ever been. Here’s why the board should reverse the closure decision and keep Hoover open:

1. At every opportunity – in the district’s survey, in the community workshops, and in the school board election – the public has expressed strong opposition to closing schools. It is short-sighted and unsustainable to enact a major facilities plan that does not have public support, especially since the plan depends on the voters’ approval of a bond for over $100 million. District policy should be driven by the values of the community, not those of unelected administrators.

2. The district should support the central, walkable, densely populated core of Iowa City, and should not sacrifice a school there while building super-sized elementary schools farther away from where the student density is. Planning for future growth is good, but the district shouldn’t abandon its existing neighborhoods and the schools that help them thrive.

3. Closing Hoover is very expensive. To close Hoover, the district has to spend millions of dollars to rebuild that capacity elsewhere – for a net gain of no new capacity at all. Given the number of worthy projects in the plan and the pressing need to increase capacity to alleviate overcrowding, it makes no sense to spend millions to tear down Hoover and rebuild its capacity elsewhere.

4. There is no compelling reason to close Hoover. The board and superintendent have never identified a compelling reason for the closure. Minimizing operating costs is not a sufficient reason to close Hoover; nor is creating additional parking or field space for City High.

5. Although it passed a very detailed long-term facilities plan, the school board is still unable to say what the Hoover property will be used for. Neighborhood residents very reasonably fear that the property will become a parking lot for City High, or that their elementary school is being closed simply for the sake of keeping tennis courts or a softball field on-site rather than a short distance away. The bare minimum of transparency requires that the district identify how the property will be used before closing a school.

6. Bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to elementary schools. The district shouldn’t have fewer, bigger schools, farther from where people live.

7. Just three years ago, voters approved the Revenue Purpose Statement (RPS) to give the school district authority to spend tens of millions of dollars in tax revenues. Voters were told that the RPS would enable renovation of older buildings and new construction, not that it would lead to school closures. The district should follow through on the expectations it raised in the RPS campaign.

8. The district just invested over half a million dollars in improvements for Hoover, including air conditioning, new carpeting and tile, roof repair, painting, and electrical wiring. The improvements are great and much needed. Yet the district plans to spend $1.5 million to tear the school down. It makes no sense to close the school after investing that much money improving it.

9. The City High addition does not require the closure of Hoover. Though the district initially said that Hoover needed to close for the City High addition to be built, the superintendent’s subsequent proposals have made it clear that the addition can be built while Hoover is still open. The addition to City would add only twelve classrooms, six of which will go on top of the existing building, and would not increase City’s enrollment at all – yet the district claims that City needs the entire five-acre Hoover property as a result. It’s clear that the closure of Hoover has no bearing on whether the City addition can be built.

10. Hoover is an economically efficient school in a mixed-income neighborhood. It holds over 300 students—more than some schools in the district will hold even after the district builds additions onto them—and it has very low busing costs because it is surrounded by residential neighborhoods. It has successfully housed two autism classrooms for years, and now a preschool classroom. It’s a model for what we should want our schools to be.

For a more extensive discussion of the reasons to keep Hoover open, see the series of posts here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Preparing for the 2015 school board election

It’s time to start preparing for the 2015 school board election. Four of the seven seats are up for election. Three of them are held by board members (Jeff McGinness, Marla Swesey, and Patti Fields) who are in favor of closing Hoover. The election is a real opportunity for supporters of Hoover School.

Our goal is to raise the Hoover issue with all of the candidates and to make sure that voters are informed about where the candidates stand.

Between our petition signers, our yard sign holders, and our volunteers, we start with over nine hundred identified supporters. Unlike in 2013, when the election came only seven weeks after the board voted to close Hoover, we have the better part of a year to prepare for 2015.

We hope both to increase our volunteer effort and to raise money to get our message out—not only to the Hoover attendance area but also to voters across the district. Closing schools in a time of growing enrollment has never had the support of the community. The more people we reach, the better the prospects for keeping Hoover open.

For twelve good reasons to keep Hoover open, click here. If you’d like to help, please email savehooveric@gmail.com. If you haven’t already signed the petition, you can do so here.