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Local parent throws his hat in the ring

BY JULIA DAVIS | SEPTEMBER 04, 2013 5:00 AM

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After watching from the outside while bringing up five children in the Iowa City School District, Gregg Geerdes has decided it was time he became more actively involved in decisions affecting the district.

For the last 30 years, Geerdes has lived in Iowa City, first as a student, then as a lawyer. He said he decided to run for a seat on the board after becoming fed up with the lack of transparency that the School Board displayed in regards to the revenue-purpose statement referendum and the neighborhood school closure issue last year.

“I have watched things deteriorate for a number of years, and I figured I could either complain about it and do nothing, or I could throw my hat in the ring and try to improve the situation,” Geerdes said.

Prior to the election on Sep. 10, Gerdees said he has been emphasizing that a new high school is absolutely necessary for the district, and if elected, he would make that his top priority. With building a new high school, he said, comes necessary redistricting, because there would be three high schools instead of two.

With a new high school, Geerdes said, he hopes to solve the overcrowding problems at West High and avoid costly additions to both West and City.

Along with the facilities planning, Superintendent Steve Murley said, the board is focusing on implementing a diversity policy to more evenly distribute students throughout the schools, as well as looking into the option of adding some magnet schools to the district.

“We need to investigate and talk to the public about what type of magnet schools would be best for Iowa City, and investigate how those are operated and get them put in place,” School Board Vice President Karla Cook said.

All these additions would be costly, and many current School Board members are hoping to pass a bond in order to cover the costs, something that Geerdes said is not a viable solution.

“The board has not, by any stretch of the imagination, made any attempt to prioritize things,” he said. “The board is just hoping that we can pass the bond issue and that they will have enough money to avoid making hard decisions.”

Mary Murphy, who is married to Geerdes and is an adjunct lecturer of accounting in the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, said she thinks her husband will make a good addition to the board.

“Gregg wants all children across the entire district to succeed and would be informed, fair, honest, and work hard for the entire district,” she said.


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