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School Board candidate plans to bring attention back to pure education

BY LILY ABROMEIT | SEPTEMBER 06, 2013 5:00 AM

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Calm, cool, and collected is how Coralville resident Chris Lynch hopes to join the Iowa City School Board.

Since his move to the United States 14 years ago, the 45-year-old Lynch, a native of Ontario, Canada, has dedicated almost a decade to being involved in the local district.

And the notion of having two kids attending West High this year, Lynch said, has boosted his initial dedication established in 2004.

Over the course of the past few months, he has led the campaign One District — Yes, asking parents to vote “yes” to the district’s Revenue Purpose Statement, which seeks to provide further funding streams.

As recently as January, however, Lynch questioned whether he was doing the right thing in pushing the revenue bill.

“My answer to that in the end was ‘yes,’ because our students need this funding and regardless of what the plan is, or what the politics are, the students need the funding,” Lynch said. “And I think that’s rolled over into why I’m running now; I think I can make a meaningful difference in education for our students.”

Upon the revenue bill passing, Lynch then set his sights on the School Board, creating four main focus points to increase school success.

“The first strategy is back to basics: focus on education,” he said. “It’s amazing to me how much time and energy we put in to talking about schools, yet we’re hardly ever talking about education or programming. So I’d like to see us spend significant time talking about the future of education.”

The second part of the plan, while still student-oriented, places more emphasis on classroom settings.

“At the school level, we need to find standards for safety (and) security,” he said.

Regulating temperatures in classrooms is one example of how Lynch hopes to do this.

“We … develop standards in the classroom for such things as temperature control, things such as technology,” he said.

Amy Neilsen said she thinks setting these kinds of standards is something the schools could use.

“One of the things our district is really struggling with right now is equity,” she said. “Our schools are very, very different across the board and … that’s something that [Lynch is] used to dealing with, setting acceptable standards and then making sure those facilities meet those standards.”

While she thinks that equity is an issue on the minds of all the board members, Nielsen said, Lynch’s experience as an operations manager at Procter & Gamble makes him a unique resource for many future board projects.

“We have a lot of … people who are successful in their corporate lives, but nobody has the exact experience that Chris has … managing large teams [and] building these multimillion-dollar facilities,” she said.

Lynch’s third goal requires cooperation from the rest of the School Board.

“[It’s] really about the board doing the work,” he said. “Team-building, defining the common goals, and then just [planning] on better relationships.”

“I want us all to be proud to say, ‘This is our district; we’re moving forward,’ ” Lynch said.

Serving to the more fiscal and facilities-focused aspect of the board, his fourth initiative highlights the importance of spending lucratively.

“On the operation side, I’d like to see us maximize our spending in the classroom, versus other places,” he said. “So at the end of that spending I think we want to make sure we can look back and say, ‘Yeah, we got best value, we got good value for our money.’ ”

Kevin Collins, a campaign committee member for Chris Lynch for School Board and family friend, said that although he believes Lynch will bring decisiveness and leadership, he might encounter a challenge being a new member.

“I think [a challenge will be] coming on as a new board member and building consensus among the board [members] so that they can move forward together in a positive way,” he said.


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