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ICCSD long-range facilities plan will wait for more data

IOWA CITY– At the next Iowa City Community School District’s (ICCSD) facilities meeting on Aug. 7, three vendors will pitch their services and tools for determining school capacity, making enrollment and demographic projections, and mapping school boundaries.
University of Wisconsin-based Applied Population Laboratory (APL) does similar work to that already being done for the schools by the University of Iowa geography department.
If hired, demographers from APL would prepare custom enrollment projections by grade and by school, said researcher Sarah Kemp. “(APL’s) models provide enrollment projections that are useful for short- and long-term strategic planning,” she said.
ICCSD Assistant Superintendent Ann Feldmann said it might take months for APL’s work to be completed, but that it was important to consider more than one data source to compare and predict enrollment.
“We want the board to have all the best information they can have to make the best decision,” she said, adding, “They [school board members] want the data.”
The board will weigh the vendors’ presentations and then may decide to issue a request for proposal (RFP) for their specific needs. The data and assessments will drive a long-range facilities plan that will be drafted this fall.
An RFP could be issued for any or all of the services offered by the vendors.
Minnesota-based company Guide K12 has a software product that can instantly assess the effect of changed borders with regards to student populations, free and reduced lunch recipients, and other demographic data. The system plugs into the ICCSD school database, PowerSchool, and available mapping tools allow boundaries to be redrawn with the click of a mouse.
Julie Fitzgerald, Guide K12’s vice president of marketing, said the tool is designed to help make data-driven decisions and do specific strategic planning and forecasting for student enrollment, school boundaries, and redistributing students throughout school districts.
Fitzgerald said that school boundaries have financial, emotional and political elements. “(Guide K12’s geo-visual analytics can) help move through the emotional paralysis (of school closings and openings),” she noted.
She added the program can help schools achieve faster decision making by taking the politics out of the decisions.
The third vendor, BLDD Architects from Decatur, Ill., will present options for a facility resource list that would map every building, classroom, roof, and boiler in the district.
The map will include projections for the life of district infrastructure to plan for replacement and assess lifetime cost for school buildings.
At the July 17 meeting, school board member Jeff McGinnis said the facilities committee, which he chairs, may meet a second time in August to decide on a plan for the consultants’ products and services after not meeting in July.