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A growing problem

OXFORD — The principals of the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) school district continue to monitor enrollment figures in preparation for the coming school year. Current figures were presented last Wed., June 15, during the regular monthly meeting of the board of directors.
At Oxford, Principal Dan Dvorak reported his incoming Clear Creek Elementary kindergarten class has risen to 70, necessitating the hiring of an additional teacher. The position will allow the school to lower class sizes from 20-23 per room to 17-18.
At North Bend Elementary in North Liberty, Brenda Parker is reviewing applications for an additional second/third grade teacher. With 138 students anticipated at this level, the new position will allow for six sections, up from five this past year. The kindergarten class has grown to 82 and will be accommodated in four sections. Without preschool students, who have been located off-site, she projects her enrollment at 376 for this fall. Parker remarked that even with the Iowa City Community School District opening Garner Elementary in North Liberty, North Bend’s numbers continue to rise.
“We thought they would take some kids away from us;…they didn’t,” Parker said.
Open enrollment into the school was shut off earlier this year under the district’s insufficient space policy, and all available spaces are being utilized to accommodate the students.
However, the day is fast approaching when an addition will become a necessity. The board and Superintendent Dr. Denise Schares briefly discussed the possibility of constructing a six-room “pod” at North Bend without having to issue a bond referendum. Potentially, the district may be able to utilize School Infrastructure Local Option (SILO) tax money. Schares felt something would have to be ready for use by the fall of 2014 at the latest, based on continuing enrollment trends.
“October’s meeting could be interesting,” Hennes half-joked referring to newly elected board members potentially being faced with a building project right away.
The board also looked at the wave working its way to the middle school in Tiffin. A multi-year plan was drawn up addressing renovating and eventually expanding the structure, which was first built in 1969. Currently, a domestic water line replacement project is in progress in the oldest part of the building.
“The board’s focus will have to be on the middle school real soon,” board president Tim Hennes said.
Even farther down the line could be expansion at the high school, a project which would more than likely require a bond issue.
As Parker told the board, larger incoming classes are now the norm.
“The days of 50 per grade are gone.”