Monday, July 22, 2013

Save Hoover Elementary

The Iowa City school board is considering a proposal to close Hoover Elementary School. Because the issue is being decided over the summer break, many local families are unaware of it. This site is intended to spread the news and to be a resource for those who oppose the school closure.

What is the proposal?

A school board committee recommended two proposals to the board. Both proposals would close Hoover; one would also close Lincoln and Hills elementaries. Both proposals would build three large new elementary schools – one on the outer east side, one on the southeast side, and one in north Johnson County.

Under both proposals, the Hoover building would probably be torn down to build an addition on City High. The board has not specified where the addition will be, or how the Hoover land will be used. It seems likely that the addition will go on the existing classroom areas of City, and that the Hoover lot will be used for parking and possibly athletic fields.

At its recent meetings, the board has apparently settled on keeping Hills and Lincoln open, but appears to be leaning toward closing Hoover.

The board can still choose a plan that keeps Hoover open. A scenario that would preserve all of our existing elementary schools was the clear favorite of people who attended the district’s community workshops, but the committee rejected it.

Why should the school board keep Hoover open?
  • Hoover is a true neighborhood school, serving over 200 students who live within a mile. Almost all of its students live too close to qualify for the school bus.
  • Compared to other older schools, Hoover holds a lot of students. This year, it held over 350 general education students, as well as two special-ed classrooms and a preschool. The district’s goal is to increase capacity and eliminate overcrowding. Why close such a relatively large school?
  • The hundreds of people who attended the district’s community workshops repeatedly expressed a clear preference not to close any of the district’s existing elementaries. Having invited that public input, the board should respect it.
  • The board hasn’t demonstrated that there is a need for three new mega-elementaries, even in the long term. The board shouldn’t close old schools to build new schools that we might not have enough students to fill even ten years from now.
  • An elementary school plays a much more vital role in a neighborhood than a parking lot or athletic field does.

When is the meeting?

The school board will meet at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 23 at the Educational Services Center, 1725 North Dodge Street, Iowa City, to discuss the facilities proposals, including the possible closure of Hoover. It seems likely that the board will vote on the plan that night. There will be an opportunity for public comment the meeting.

Where can I get more information?

More information on the proposed school closings is available here.

What can I do to help?
  • Attend the board meeting on Tuesday, July 23
  • Show your support in the comments below
  • Forward this link to friends
  • Put up a yard sign. Email if you’re interested.
  • To contact us, email cjliebig [ at ] gmail [ dot ] com
(Updated July 22, 2013.)


  1. We are a Hoover family and agree completely with your reasons listed for keeping Hoover open. We live 2 blocks away from the school and are beside ourselves with the thought of closing our neighborhood school. It's a lot to ask for us to be willing to close our school without even knowing what school our children will be transferred to. We will be emailing the school board with our thoughts.

  2. I'm a retiree without children in the school, but I am concerned for my neighborhood. Hoover is the center of a diverse, lively population and I love it here. Every day during the school year, I'll see (and hear!) a flock of children coming home from school, usually with at least a couple of parents walking with them. I am convinced by the facts in this flier that the committee did not consider sufficiently Hoover's size and demographic makeup in making its decision. This is the kind of neighborhood we should strive to achieve throughout Iowa City, and it makes no sense at all to destroy it and bus our children somewhere else.

  3. Good Afternoon,

    My name is Susan and I have three children who attend Hoover Elementary. I work full-time and can't fathom how to scrape one more minute out of every day, but I try. Like others, I do it for my children.

    I have lived in Iowa City 20 years and have been looking for a community like this the entire time. Our previous two family homes were on the west side, two absolutely lovely neighborhoods, one off of Rohret and one in Brown Deer. However, moving to the east side of Iowa City has a been a dream and I mean it. Neighborhoods where people live, older couples mixed with young families surround Hoover Elementary. People jog in the mornings and people are out every day walking dogs. Kids play with neighborhood kids, I have about 15 at my house on Friday nights roasting marshallows. Neighbors talk to one another. And this is the community which shelters our children as they go to and from school everyday.

    It's true what people say, Hoover Elementary is a true neighborhood school....take a drive past during the day see the children playing on the playground on the corners of 1st Avenue and Court. I thought of that when I drove home from work yesterday, passing by the huge City High parking lot on Court Avenue and envisioning another parking lot on the busy corner of 1st and Court. Ugh.

    Hoover Elementary is the kind of school parents like me wish for their children and their families. Events are held in the school gym in the library and events are packed full of families, even during the day time. And Hoover parents are working parents, I can assure you of that, and even still find time to take precious time off from work to see kids in the spring concert, the Halloween parade, or after school events. Whenever there is the smallest trace of snow, everyone rushes to Hoover hill to sled, that tiny little hill on the side of that school sees hundreds of sledders every year I assure you.

    The teachers are great, the principal(s) has been wonderful and open door, even the after school program run by Ms. Krystal Jossell is phenomenal. The kids are happy, they love their school and take great pride in it, and Hoover has a great history. My understanding from what I read in the Press-Citizen is that Hoover students are excellent academicians, meeting and surpassing that of their peers at other schools.

    I am not well-versed on the ins and outs of the various proposals and cannot argue articulately and well-informed about the budget or the condition and comparisons of the various schools in question.

    My hope is that the those being paid to do the research on this issue are well-supervised and have their ducks in a row, all i's dotted and t's crossed. That the best, smartest logistical city planning people are on working this case.

    There is absolutely no room for error regarding this decision involving Hoover Elementary, particulary when the future of these children, my children, this school, our school, and this community, our community is at stake.

  4. AnneT and Susan -- Thanks for those terrific comments. I hope every member of the school board reads them. The board hasn't yet decided the issue and may still vote to keep the existing schools open.

    As far as the empirical basis for the various proposals, I think this is a situation where it makes sense to "trust but verify" as much as possible, especially since value judgments necessarily have to inform much of the analysis.

  5. My family lives a block away from the school and we will be sending both of my children to Hoover. The school is the center point between the many different neighborhoods on the east side. It is pulling in many different economic and culturally diverse families, making it the reason we purchased the house we did. My family is very opposed to this proposal.

  6. We live a couple blocks away and specifically moved to this neighborhood for Hoover. Our oldest son will be entering 1st grade in the fall and we also have almost 4 year old twin boys and a 2 year old daughter and it was our specific goal to live near a neighborhood school and have our kids grow up knowing their neighbors as classmates. It would be a devastating blow to this community to lose one of Iowa City's better schools and I surely do hope we can do something to stop these proposals and keep our young children's learning experiences what they should be.

  7. My children are long grown but all were in the IC school system. When they were young, around 1980, the talk was all about closing either Shimek or Mann, and it really pitted the two schools against one another. I went to many ‘save our school’ meetings and there was a lot of anger and hostility. Looking at both those schools today, I think we can all be glad that neither was closed, and it was truly due to the efforts of the parents that both Shimek and Mann were kept open.

    As I read these comments, I share the belief that the school is the heart of the neighborhood and to close an elementary school like Hoover- a great school, as has been stated- would gut the neighborhood. In today’s Press Citizen, Chris Liebig articulates all the reasons Hoover should not be closed and the parallels between Hoover and Roosevelt: “If the board wants to sustain its close-in, affordable neighborhoods — and avoid repeating the Roosevelt mistake — it has a way to do it.”

    I encourage the ‘decision makers’ to stop and listen to what the parents are saying. Use common sense and keep Hoover open. Once it’s closed, you can’t unclose it and it will leave a hole that can’t be filled along with much regret and animosity that can all be avoided. Keep Hoover open.


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