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After it closes, the neighborhood Hills wants the primary school building back



Hills, Iowa – Residents of the neighborhood claim they want the building and the property back, after the Iowa City School Board’s vote the day before to close Hills Elementary School.

To help address a $7 million deficit across the district, the school board overwhelmingly decided to close the school at the end of the current academic year. It would save almost $1.6 million to close Hills.

Constructed in the 1960s, the building was quickly acquired by the ICCSD.

When Hills Elementary closed after the school year, parents picking up their children on Wednesday were unsure of what the following year might hold.

“We’re looking at other school districts and possibly checking out Alexander,” said Erin Gifford, a Hills Elementary School parent.

Mayor Tim Kemp was concerned about what would happen to the building for the city, while Gifford concentrated on what her son Gavin’s schooling would entail the next year.

“We don’t want to see it sit there like Roosevelt up in Iowa City and just kind of slowly fall apart,” he said.

According to Mayor Kemp, the school and the grounds were sold by the city for one dollar in 1966 to the Iowa City School District. He now stated that he would pay to have it returned.

“A dollar in 1966 is worth about $9.65 today,” said Kemp. “I think that seems like a fair exchange and a nice profit for them.”

Although Kemp stated there were many needs the facility might meet for this community if it wasn’t going to be used as a school, the district stated it was too early to say what the building’s plans were.

“It could be used as a community center with a gym, it could be used for a library, it could be used for new city offices, it could be part of a new fire station,” said Kemp.

Gifford is hoping that Gavin’s new school will provide her child with an education on par with what they had at Hills, no matter what the future brings.

“I would really like to know that the communication I’m getting here at Hills is going to be what I’m going to be getting if I go to Alexander,” she said.

About seven miles to the north of Hills is Alexander Elementary School. There are roughly 320 pupils enrolled there, as opposed to 141 at Hills. In addition, Mayor Kemp stated that Hills probably requires some repairs due to its age and tornado damage from the previous year.