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Controversial school board decisions leading to record turnout in Iowa City school board election

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Some recent controversial decisions by the Iowa City School Board have been getting a lot of attention. Crowded school board meetings are translating into a high voter turnout in the school board election, and the candidates are spending a lot of money to win.

Keith Thayer has been voting for school board members for decades.

"I've always voted for school elections," said Thayer. "I believe in public schools and I like to make my own selection."

A lot of times in school board races, it's only the dedicated who show up but that's not the case in the Iowa City school board race this year.

"All of a sudden within the last five to six days, it has just picked up tremendously," said Travis Weipert, Johnson County Auditor. 

The Johnson County Auditor expects turnout for the race to be around 10 percent, which would be record for a school board race and twice the typical turnout. The office has already had to order more ballots.

"We have some really smart people in the office that do the stats for us and are usually pretty good at knowing down to the number what we can expect and right now they're scratching their heads," said Weipert.

Parents we spoke to said they're concerned about the ten year Facilities Master Plan the school board approved in July, which called for closing Hoover Elementary School, renovating others, and building new schools.

That's also one of the issues that led nine people to battle for three seats. Combined, they've raised more than $33,000 in contributions which is five times more than candidates raised in 2011.

More than 1,400 people have voted early in Johnson County. The auditor also expects turnout to be higher than usual at polling places tomorrow.

For school board elections in Johnson County, regular precincts are combined into school precincts.

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