Campaign Description

Here's what this campaign is about:

Ensuring equal opportunities in curriculum and programming for all students

Providing our students and faculty with safe, healthy, technology-driven learning environments

Committing to our neighborhood schools

Guaranteeing responsible stewardship of public funds

Celebrating the diversity within our district

Engaging parents to become active participants in the schools

Making data-driven decisions with measurable results

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Saturday, September 9, 2017

The One About Board Dysfunction

Longtime board member Patti Fields always said to follow and to trust the process.  Over the past four years, I have come to appreciate the power of vigorous debate and discussion leading up to a Board decision.  Sometimes, I have been a YES vote, other times a NO.  The beauty of having seven board members is that the collective decision of the seven members is reflective of the will of the group and is ultimately better than any one individual's opinion.

The difficult thing is to advocate strongly for something you believe in and then find that you have been unable to sway the group's opinion once the vote is taken.  I have been on the short end of some decisions over the past four years and, while it stings a bit, it is important to recognize that the time for dissent or debate is over and the Board needs to collectively move on.  I am disheartened to find by the opinion pieces in this morning's Press-Citizen that two of my board colleagues still don't "get it" and believe their opinion is greater than the collective will of the Board.

Earlier this year, over multiple board work sessions, between January and April, two major decisions were made.  The first, was a hammering out of the exact language to be placed on the ballot for voters to consider this coming Tuesday.  Each board member had the opportunity at multiple open work sessions to make suggestions regarding what projects should be listed in the ballot language.  The addition of wording that includes classrooms for pre-kindergarten, art, music, and science all came from healthy Board discussion throughout those work sessions.  All of those commitments, as well as a comprehensive list of all 20 projects are listed in the ballot language. I am dismayed that the one board member who sat mostly silent through those multiple work sessions is now upset that specific wording regarding career and technical education is not in the ballot language. The time to suggest that wording was before the language was finalized, not months later once the ballots were printed.

The second was the decision to ask voters for permission to issue General Obligation Bonds necessary to fund the full amount of the remaining 20 projects on the ICCSD's 10 year Facility Master Plan. At the January 10th work session HERE, Director Lynch proposed a plan to Bond for a lesser amount to fund the next few years of the Facility Master Plan. I was supportive of this at the time, but before deciding what to do, the Board went to the community on January 12th, 17th, and 19th at three different locations across the district to gather community input.  The overwhelming response was to "finish the plan" and bond for the full amount of $191.5 M.  Here is the summary of those listening posts.  The community input was enough to sway both President Lynch, myself, and other board members, so we decided to go for the full amount rather than multiple smaller bonds and get the plan done right...the first time.  At the Board meeting on April 25 HERE , the Board voted 5-2 to Bond for the full $191.5 Million.  I find it interesting that the two members who were in the minority have spent their summer and are now on the Opinion page of the Press-Citizen advocating against the collective decision of the Board in direct violation of Board policies and the Code of Conduct for Board Members found HERE

Our community deserves better and our students deserve better.  We need board members who understand both their role and the value of collective group decisions. I hope you will join me this Tuesday in voting for the candidates vetted, interviewed, and endorsed by the Press-Citizen, the Gazette, and the Iowa City Education Association.  I also urge you to vote YES in order to both tie the next board to completing the Facility Master Plan and to assist them in moving the conversation about our schools away from the bricks and mortar and toward what happens in the classroom.  Our kids deserve our support and the support of a functional Board. Now go vote.

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