School Board selects Townsend


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

There will be a new face at the Iowa City School Board business meeting today.

In a special meeting on Monday, Orville Townsend Sr. was unanimously voted to fill the board’s seventh seat.

He will fill the seat vacated by the abrupt departure last month of former President Sally Hoelscher.

Townsend, whose term will end in September 2015, was one of 10 applicants for the empty seat.
Three board members — Patti Fields, Jeff McGinnes, and Vice President Marla Swesey — will be up for re-election if they choose to run again in 2015.

McGinness began the meeting by nominating Townsend for the board position, bypassing a more prolonged discussion.

“If you want a unanimous verdict, there’s only one person I’m comfortable voting for,” he said.

Board members praised Townsend primarily for his prior board experience. It will help give him a leg up on the steep learning curve that comes with the position, board member Brian Kirschling said.

“Orville is a long-standing member of our community and knows a lot about what’s going on,” board member Tuyet Dorau said.

This involvement in the community and prior experience should mean that he will be able to easily and seamlessly begin contributing to the quality of education in the district.

Townsend served on the board from 1986 to 1989. He previously served on the School District’s Equity Advisory Committee from 1982 until he took his position on the board.

Additionally, he served the Iowa City Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services Office from 1995 through 2010.

McGinness thought that many of the applicants, while they were valid candidates, didn’t have the same degree of neutrality that Townsend possesses.

“Some of [the applicants] have politics tied to them,” he said.

Townsend said he didn’t intend to run in the September 2015 election for the seat, according to his application. Board members previously stated that they didn’t want the temporary appointment be a platform for political gain.

Not everyone on the board and in the audience was satisfied with the expedited process that the board employed.

Fields was “disappointed in the process again” when McGinness’ almost instantaneous nomination of Townsend cut off any opportunity for discussion.

“I approve of our decision, but at the same time, we’ve got to get away from this,” she said.

Board President Chris Lynch, who joined the meeting via telephone, initially didn’t want to allow community comment during the meeting.

This bothered Fields and Dorau, who protested that the board couldn’t refuse people their three minutes of speaking time during board meetings. Fields was quick to remind Lynch that it was only possible to do so at a work session.

School District parent Julie VanDyke complained that the board was too quick to reach decisions without discussion, echoing Fields. However, she went a step further in accusing the board of making decisions behind closed doors prior to meetings.

She urged the board to award the seat to the runner-up in the previous election for the seat in order for the board to restore its credibility with the community. The matter of the board replacement isn’t a decision that the boarditself should be able to make, VanDyke said.

“It should be the people’s decision,” she said.

In today's issue:

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.