Nine Candidates compete for three seats


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There is only one day to spare before the Iowa City School Board election. Nine different candidates are vying for the three open spots on the board for the Iowa City School District.

The candidates have varying backgrounds and experience, and they focus on different key issues in their campaigns for the board.

Tuyet Dorau

Dorau’s platform is based on five primary issues. She wants to focus on education while empowering children, faculty, and staff, and remove barriers in meaningful and effective ways.

“[During my last term, I] developed a reputation for being someone for looking at the district as a whole instead of looking at it on a segmented level or one particular area of our community,” she said.

She also wants to engage in long-term planning for sustainable growth. She said she wants to embrace and incorporate community input and ensure transparency and good stewardship of taxpayer investments.

Karla Cook

Cook said she wants to seek a second term in order to continue to move forward some of the most pressing issues facing the district. She said she wants to work on implementing the district’s new diversity policy.

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

She said she also wants to focus on unifying district interests in her second term.

“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,” she said. “So what they have in civic differences I hope they don’t have in the educational process for their children.”

Sara Barron

Barron wants to focus on advocating for each individual child.

“There is a temptation in this community to see issues as ‘either-or issues,’ and if we want good long-term solutions to our problems, we need to think about making decisions that can benefit all of our students,” she said.

She said she also wants to save neighborhood schools and development of affordable housing in areas where new schools will be built.

“It is really important for the School District to put schools in neighborhoods and recognize the value of those schools,” she said. “The School District needs to be very careful to invest in smart community development and invest in schools that are going to provide a range of public facilities and opportunities to our neighborhoods and our communities.”

Gregg Geerdes

Geerdes said building a new high school in the district is his top priority in order to ease overcrowding.

He also stressed the importance of fiscal responsibility and that he does not support the district passing a new bond to pay for new construction projects. He said prioritizing projects is more important.

“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.”

Phil Hemingway

A self-described “watchdog of finances,” Hemingway is also stressing financial responsibility as a key issue.

“We need to ask questions as citizens because the people on the School Board are acting as the rubber stamps of administration,” he said.

He said he also wants to re-instill lost trust back in the district and modernizing schools.

“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.”

Brian Kirschling

Krischling wants to ensure equal opportunities for all students. He is also championing the need for the district to maintain neighborhood elementary schools, promoting fiscal responsibility, celebrating diversity, and making data-driven decisions

“What I’m anxious for us to be able to do is really start to commit to renovating and adding on to our facilities, building new facilities, and changing the way that we assign students to schools,” he said. “We want to make sure that we don’t have high concentrations of poverty when new facilities come on line.”

Chris Lynch

Lynch said he wants to focus on education if elected.

“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.”

He also said he is concerned with classroom settings and wants them to be conducive to learning.

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

Jason Lewis

Lewis said he’s most concerned with equity in the schools.

“Every kid comes to school with his or her own set of challenges,” he said. “The goal of the School District should really be to find a way to meet those challenges and provide the kind of educational opportunities that each kids needs.”

He is also advocating for the protection of neighborhood schools and the use of humanities education in classes.

“I kind of feel like that’s my calling in life on a certain level — to be able to be a champion for humanities and liberal arts, and to be a champion for education as a way that can change people’s lives,” Lewis said.

Jim Tate

Tate is strongly advocating for the return of vocational programs in Iowa City schools.

“With only 82 percent of our students going to higher education, I think we’re failing those 18 percent that aren’t by not offering some of the better vocational courses,” he said.

He also said his job as a forklift operator gives him a unique perspective and that he could contribute to the board a point of view of what he describes as a “nonprofessional.”

“You’ve had business executives, political coordinators, retired teachers, doctors, lawyers, but you haven’t had somebody who’s out there every day having to work a menial labor-intensive job,” he said.

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