On July 12, 2005, the Des Moines school board voted to close certain of its attendance centers. This decision occurred as a result of a mid-program review of the District's Ten Year Plan (which commenced in 1999) for creating "21st Century Schools." Five years into the Ten Year Plan, the District was faced with declining enrollments, declining revenues, and increased costs.
These decisions and reviews thereof are governed by chapter 19 of the Department's administrative rules, also known as the Barker guidelines. Seven criteria, all of which refer to process, must be substantially met by the local Board. The purpose of the guidelines is to make sure that affected pupils and their families have opportunity for input before attendance centers are closed. Local boards have unambiguous statutory authority to close attendance centers, so the State Board does not review the wisdom of such decisions. The decision to close the affected attendance centers was a marked departure from the District's original Ten-Year Plan. Nevertheless, as a matter of procedure, the Des Moines School Board substantially complied with all seven criteria.
The State Board upheld the decision of the Des Moines school board.