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Phil Hemingway wants School Board to focus on finance

BY EMILY FRIESE | SEPTEMBER 05, 2013 5:00 AM

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Phil Hemingway has big goals for the Iowa City School Board.

After previously running for a board position in the 2011 election, Hemingway, a local parent and East Side business owner, is contending for one of three available seats in the upcoming Sept. 10 election.

Hemingway said his main interest in running for the board dates back to the experience his daughter had in the School District.

“She was within walking distance of her junior high, high school, and now college,” he said. “We’re very happy with her experience, and we want to make sure everyone in the community has the same opportunities my daughter had.”

His platform revolves around instilling trust that was lost over time back into the district – modernizing current district schools being key.

“I’m interested in making sure the board lives up to its promises where we’re going to keep, renovate, and modernize our current schools,” he said. “I don’t want to close neighborhood schools. They’re the backbone of our country.”

Tom Braverman, a special-education teacher at City High School, said he supports Hemingway in next week’s election.

“Out of all the candidates, even the ones who are already on the board, he attends all of the meetings,” he said. “I think he has missed four in the past four years. He’s very knowledgeable about the proceedings.”

Braverman said he knows Hemingway as a leader from the City High Band Auxiliary program and as a trustworthy business owner of Phil’s Repair.

“[Hemingway] took a very disorganized program and made it into something to be really proud of,” he said. “The framework they set for the Band Auxiliary program will continue to serve the school very well.”

With all of his leadership skills, Braverman said he believes Hemingway will help the School District become more fiscally responsible.

“I think he will help taxpayers in the district,” he said. “There is $100 million in the hands of the board members, and he’ll make sure it’s put into the revenue-purpose statement and the master plans statement.”

Hemingway said he is a “watchdog of finances,” and he would like to see the district start spending their money wisely.

For example, he said he noticed once the district had a vendor that made a $154,000 mistake with flooring in the fine-arts addition to City High, and the district paid for it rather than having the company fix it.

And he wants the board to take fiscal responsibility seriously.

“We need to make sure the board spends money like they’d spend their own,” Hemingway said.

While Iowa City School Superintendent Steve Murley declined to answer questions about individual candidates, he said he has goals for the board.

Murley said working with committees like the Education Committee, Operations Committee, and the Policy and Engagement Committee provides an opportunity for the administrative team to report its work to the board and get feedback.

“As new board members come into office, they will have an opportunity to get involved internally in these committees and externally on other bodies where the school board has representation,” he said.

But Hemingway said the board must hold those who make mistakes accountable and have a certain level of skepticism when it comes to the school administration.

“Everyone is protected except the taxpayers, the students, and the staff,” he said. “We need to ask questions as citizens because the people on the school board are acting as the rubber stamps of administration.”


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