Four brief local items worth mentioning:
1. Did our school district give a windfall to developers of real estate in a neighboring district? My questions about it in the Patch are here.
2. The Daily Iowan reports on the continuing grass-roots pressure to lengthen our very short elementary school lunch periods. I’m glad the issue is getting more publicity, though I was a bit disappointed in the article’s uncritical acceptance of the school district’s version of events.
The article, for example, reports that all elementary school students are now “allowed 20 minutes . . . to eat their lunch” and that “[a]fter going through the lunch line and sitting down, students have an average of 15 minutes to eat.” I can’t help but wonder if the reporter made any effort to verify that all kids actually receive a twenty minute lunch period. Moreover, the assertion that the kids get an “average” of fifteen minutes to eat seems patently unverifiable. And how many kids are getting less than fifteen minutes to produce that “average” figure?
One school board member is quoted as saying, “I think it’s a matter of utilities. There isn’t enough room for kids to eat, so they have smaller shifts; there aren’t enough tables to accommodate the students, so they have less time to eat.” Yet our superintendent has repeatedly given a very different explanation, blaming pressure from the state to squeeze as much instructional time from the day as possible (for example, here and here). Which is it?
On the district’s “public engagement” website, “more time for lunch” continues to trounce all other proposals. How long can the district ignore the problem and still credibly claim to care about public input? The DI article reports that “No discussions have yet occurred at School Board meetings to add any time to lunch, but officials said they continually work to improve the system.” People have been complaining for years. Isn’t it time for the school board to do something?
Incidentally, the last quote in the article, from an unnamed “district parent,” is from my comments on the public engagement site.
3. The proponents of a Montessori charter school in our district are still plugging away at making it happen, and met this week with our state’s Director of Education, Jason Glass and local school officials. You can read about their continuing efforts here.
4. The Patch reports that the district is considering borrowing to address building maintenance and capacity issues, and that the plan would update older buildings, “including elementaries Longfellow, Horace Mann and Coralville Central, so they are American with Disabilities Act compliant and have air conditioning.” Will Hoover be included in that list, or does the district have other plans for it? I raised the question in the comments and got some informative responses.