Hi, my name is Brian and my children attend a small school. That school is Shimek.
Shimek elementary only has about 200 students which makes it one of the smallest schools in the district. Only 91 of those students live within one mile of the school. If it weren't for the fact that Shimek serves the entire area reaching out to Newport Road and there are no other alternatives that are nearby, I'm sure Shimek would be targeted frequently for closure.
Traditionally, Lincoln enrolls about 250 students. 93 of those students live within one mile of the school. Like Shimek, it serves an area that really doesn't have another alternative facility within a reasonable distance. I know that Lincoln has been mentioned at times in sentences that end with closure, but for the life of me, I can't imagine what alternative facility those 93 students who live near Lincoln would attend.
Then there's Hills. 108 students attend Hills. 39 live within one mile. There is no alternative to Hills Elementary school in the immediate area. Hills is the only school for roughly a 7 mile radius. Their community has taken exciting steps to address infrastructure needs and is poised for growth. That school serves a large area. I think that to consider closing Hills would be extremely short-sighted. Remember, 20 years ago Penn was the only school in North Liberty.
Which brings me to Mann. Mann has about 250 students enrolled each year over the past decade. 105 live within one mile of the school. After the anticipated renovations that are part of the Strategic Facility Plan approved by the Board in July, it is projected that Mann will be able to house over 400 students. Mann serves the historic GooseTown neighborhood and, like Lincoln, doesn't really have a nearby walkable alternative.
I want to share these thoughts because as we move toward new, larger, more peripherally-located and cost-efficient schools as part of addressing our district's explosive growth over the previous and coming decade, we must still recognize that there is intrinsic value to maintaining a small school when and where there are no other alternatives. Although larger schools are more cost efficient to operate, the true test of a neighborhood school is its sense of community. Being able to walk in as a parent and have the principal and the school secretary able to recognize you by face and know where your children are at is comforting. There is no dollar value that can reflect that.
Exciting changes are about to occur with our district-wide facelift. Let's ensure that we don't lose track of our roots.