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Fresh faces on the school board

BY ALLIE BISCUPSKI | AUGUST 05, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Iowa City School Board will undergo significant changes this year. With the coming election, the board will see a large crop of new faces, potentially shaking up its dynamics.

Of the seven members, only two will retain their seats past Sept. 8 — current School Board President Chris Lynch and Vice President Brian Kirschling.

None of the other four incumbents will run for re-election. Board member Tuyet Baruah announced in late July she would resign from the board, effective September.

Lynch said that while it will be a challenge to have five new members, he looks forward to the challenges and opportunities.

“Certainly, the opportunity is you’ve got five new fresh points of view, so it’s an opportunity for this next part to decide how they want to move forward and perhaps establish new ways of doing things,” he said.

School Superintendent Stephen Murley said he also looks forward to the new perspectives the new members will bring and appreciates the effort that goes into the position.

“Committing to fill a School Board position in Iowa City is very demanding,” Murley wrote in an email. “I am very appreciative of the time and energy that our current board members have provided during their terms of service.  Each in [her or his] own way will be missed.”

Baruah also said she hopes the diverse group of candidates will bring unique perspectives to the board.

“I am excited that there are so many candidates for both positions out there, and I’m looking forward to seeing what their stances are,” she said. “This is a great time to be running for the School Board.”

Lynch said the board has goals for the new year that the members plan to work on.

Some of the board’s goals include receiving general-obligation bonding funding for facilities in the 2017 master plan, delivering a strategic plan for the district, and improving reading, math, and overall educational opportunities, Lynch said.

Baruah said she would like to see the board make advances in inclusion policies as well.

“I would love to see this new board take some really visionary stances for the board and look at how they can make our district better than it is now,” she said. “Also to look at ways they can truly be representative of our entire population, so they can set the tone for a diverse, welcoming and embracing School District.”

Lynch said he hopes the candidates will be there to help students.

“I hope they’re there for the students and to help move the district forward,” he said. “The community is looking for members of the board who can provide functional government.”

Baruah said she would like to see support for teachers and students alike.

“I’d like to see increased support and discussion for all our students, but especially students who have high barriers to learning,” she said.

For community members hoping to see a change in policy with a change in members, Lynch has one piece of advice.

“If people want to see improvement and more functional government moving forward, they need to vote, and they need to get to know the candidates so they can pick the most effective ones,” he said. “Elections matter.”


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