Meet your school board candidates
IOWA CITY– Voters in the Iowa City school district will face many choices on the Sept. 13 ballot.
Ten candidates have filed to run for the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) Board of Education. Voters will decide Tuesday, Sept. 13, on who will fill the vacancies.
Eight candidates will be running to fill four four-year terms seats for the expiring terms of current board members Gayle Klouda, Patti Fields, Toni Cilek and Michael Shaw. Incumbent Fields will be seeking re-election. The other seven candidates are Jeff Alden of Coralville and Phil Hemingway, Sally Hoelscher, Jeff McGinness, Robert Porter, Marla Swesey and James Tate, all of Iowa City.
Two candidates– Karla Cook and Julie VanDyke, both of Iowa City– are vying for one at-large seat to fill a vacancy left by the early resignation of school board member Michael Cooper, a term that expires in 2013.
The Leader presented all 10 candidates with two brief questions: (1) Please provide information on your personal history, background or interests that have prepared you to serve on the school board; (2) If elected, what will be your main priorities during your term on the ICCSD school board?
As an education major who became a physician, I spent 14 years in the Army and 14 months deployed to Iraq. In the combat zone I saw what became of communities that put their factions ahead of their children. While training in psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic, I saw what could be accomplished by keeping priorities in order.
My priorities are a third high school, neighborhood schools, fiscal responsibility and better communication.
I have been a parent, teacher and community member in the Iowa City school district. I have served on several committees while I worked in the district. I believe my experiences give me a unique perspective to bring to the board.
My main priority is to work with the rest of the school board to ensure a quality education for each of the students in the district. I intend to keep an open mind in all issues and use my listening and reasoning skills to make decisions.
I have served as an Iowa City Community School District School Board member for the past six years. My overall motivation to run for election has remained consistent; I have a strong passion and commitment to our community. All of my professional and volunteer work is focused to making our school district and community a better place to live, work and learn.
The leadership of the district begins with the board setting a vision for our future. We are at a vital point in setting clear and strategic goals for improving student achievement and facility planning and it must be based on a collaborative process that includes evaluating our accountability systems and utilizing relevant data. Implementing the vision for the district needs to include short-term and mid-term action steps that help us reach our long-range goal.
I grew up on my family’s farm in Johnson County. I spent 10 years working overseas in the former Soviet Union, Africa and Central America. My family consists of my wife, Anita, our daughter, Monica who is a Senior at City High and my mother-in-law, Marci who completes our extended family in a multi-cultural and bilingual household.
Money will dictate what we do or don’t do in the future. We have to get our financial house in order. Openness and transparency, neighborhood schools, career & technical education, and having a global view working on what’s best for all students.
Though I have a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Iowa, I currently work part-time as a freelance writer and have also worked in the area of Christian Education. I would bring to the School Board years of experience as a parent, a school volunteer and an educator. My husband and I have lived in the Iowa City area for 21 years and have two children in the school district.
If elected, my priority will be providing students of all ages across the district with the opportunities they need to excel in school and in life and to meet the challenges of the 21st century. I would like to see a focus on long-term planning to insure that the human, physical and financial resources available in this district are being used to their fullest potential.
Jeffrey K. McGinness
For nearly my entire life I've lived in this community. Having attended Grant Wood, Horn, Southeast and City High, I attribute much of my success to the great teachers, coaches and leaders I was fortunate enough to learn from. It is our family’s experience in this district that prompted us to return home to raise our family. I believe my dedication, work ethic and commitment to excellence would be valuable assets to the board and district.
My wife and I have three children, two of whom attend Weber. I am an attorney at Simmons Perrine, having obtained my law degree from Iowa after winning a pair of NCAA titles for Coach Gable.
Greater transparency and increased focus on fiscal management and fiscal planning; Improve relationships and positive and meaningful communication between the board members, administration and the community; Emphasis on being proactive rather than reactive; Increased focus on technology, innovative learning programs and partnerships with UI, Kirkwood, and local businesses; Greater recognition and utilization of quality teachers and other existing resources.
I worked for the Iowa City Community School District for fourteen years. I believe the board has never had, in the past or present, a board member with good understanding of facility operations. My contribution to the school board would be to bring my knowledge and experience in day-to-day facility operations, services and safety regulations.
My main concern will be bringing more transparency and accountability by supporting a course of action in which all stakeholders will have the ability to understand budgetary items concerning spending, operations and bidding practices. I believe focusing on short and long term planning and data-driven decisions coupled with a proactive approach in all areas of education to ensure the best possible outcomes for our students and stakeholders.
I have lived in Iowa City with my husband, Mike, for 31 years and raised two daughters, both of whom attended Iowa City schools from kindergarten through high school. I taught elementary-aged students in the Iowa City Community School district for 26 years and completed a Masters of Arts in Education degree in 2002. Additionally, I have enjoyed community roles as President of the Iowa City Education Association, co-originator and Parent-Board President of the Lucas on Campus Before and After School program, Girl Scout leader, and Iowa City Girls Recreational League Softball coach.
1. To ensure a high quality education for all youth, regardless of race, gender, religious backgrounds, socioeconomic status, or disability, provided in a safe and supportive environment.
2. All issues discussed by the school board should be open to all members of the school district community, allowing all voices of our community to be heard and factored into decisions.
3. All board decisions must be made with careful fiscal responsibility with a full evaluation of potential impacts, using the best available research on educational practices to ensure that all decisions are putting students first.
My wife, Lily, and I are 12-year residents of Iowa City’s Southeast side where we live with our daughter Rebekah who attends Robert Lucas. As a former Marine Corps Corporal having served our country from 1991-1995, serving in California and Japan, I credit my time in the Corps with strengthening a sense of service to others. I believe we are obligated to public service. As a Marine, I learned that you might not always agree with everything, but a common ground can be reached.
I know firsthand the commitment of the educators and staff. I am also a taxpayer who understands that there are no tax dollars that need to be spent wiser than those used for education. My number one issue will be keeping the production of school lunches a local endeavor and encouraging the school district to utilize local produce.
West High School Graduate with AP English background, 2.5 years in UI’s Unified Program towards BA in Art History, extensive continuing education classes in computer skills and software, human relations skills. A seven-year old son in the ICCSD, current school volunteer and former PTO member. Three years of consistently attending high school and elementary school redistricting meetings, ICCSD Board meetings, and community forums. An overwhelming hope that I can help effect positive change on the ICCSD Board for all communities in this district.
In 2010-11, 409 students enrolled out of our district each taking $5,883 in Iowa Open Enrollment Tuition… nearly 2.5 million a year. The district needs to determine why. We can take action, address concerns, and make our schools so appealing that families stay and more choose to open enroll to our district.
-Valuing existing neighborhood schools in all communities. I don’t favor mega-schools. We’re “building” future neighbors, caretakers, and citizens; I think quality education more important than cheaper education.
-Working with constituents towards what may be a much different fourth high school. If we don’t have money to build one identical to City and West, let’s work to determine how to build a smaller one with a specific focus.