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School Board Vice President seeking second term

BY EMILY FRIESE | SEPTEMBER 03, 2013 5:00 AM

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After serving two years on the Iowa City School Board, Karla Cook is ready to continue what she started.

Cook, who serves as the board’s vice president, is one of the nine candidates vying for three available seats in the upcoming Sept. 10 election.

A 49-year resident of the Iowa City area, she graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in secondary education before beginning a career in teaching in 1968.

Ever since then, she has been involved in School District happenings, she said, from a parent, teacher and managerial standpoint.

And while Cook said local municipalities vary in governmental regards, they should put aside their individual variances for the sake of the educational quality of students.

“I think — Coralville, North Liberty, Iowa City, Hills — they all have their own interests, but I truly believe they all think education is important and that we need to work together to provide the best education. So what they have in civic differences I hope they don’t have in the educational process for their children.”

After winning a two-year term in the 2011 election, Cook now says she wants to continue working on better implementing policies the board has pushed forward in the past two years.

Cook said she brings a unique perspective to the School Board because she does not have a current vested interest, like children currently enrolled, in any of the schools, programs, or situations.

Chief among those, she said, includes a still yet-to-be-implemented diversity policy and education committee.

“It was one of the things I proposed, and I just want to see those things through,” she said.

Local parent John Balmer, who said a number of his children were taught mathematics by Cook during her tenure at City High, thinks over that past two years she has done exceptionally well on the School Board.

“She cares about all the students in the district, and I think that shows with her looking forward,” he said.

A lack of facility investment, particularly at the elementary level, Balmer said, needs to be addressed, and he believes Cook is in the right position to do this.

“I think she has that skill set and understanding of looking at these things in cost effective ways, and she’s fiscally prudent.”

Local parent Julie Van Dyke said she believes Cook was one of the best additions to the current School Board up until she voted to close down Hoover Elementary.

“I cannot support anybody who supports Hoover’s closure under the current circumstances,” she said. “I don’t care who they are.”

While Superintendent Steve Murley declined to comment on individual board members or candidates, he outlined three specific issues facing the board.

Further district-wide educational programming options, the continued 10-year implementation of a more than $260 million Facilities Master Plan, and diversity policy efforts stand as the main areas of concern and movement, he said.

Despite recognizing facility needs, Cook maintained that her main goal is to focus on the way students are being taught.

“I’m ready now to focus on what we’re teaching and how we’re teaching it to better serve the needs of the students as they move forward to graduation,” she said. “I go to all the schools. I visited all of them, and I just tried to see what their needs are, what they can celebrate as being good for their school, and what we can do to make their schools better.”


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