At-large (2-year term): Karla Cook

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I believe that the state should be involved in seeing that all 4-year-olds can attend a preschool. This allows the children to enter kindergarten without being behind. Education provided at this time in a student’s life proves to be the most positive influence after the role of the parent.

In these economic times, I believe that the state should help the families who cannot afford this on their own. The families who have the means to send the children to preschool should do so without state help. I would envision that this might include the use of some kind of sliding scale.

Regarding education reform:

I hope to see a change in funding so that schools are not paid a year behind when they incurred the expense. The state should issue another check when the enrollment has been shown to increase and thus the expenses for books, equipment and teachers has increased. When schools are constantly being funded a year behind, it makes planning a very difficult task.

I would hope to see the allowable growth and funding set as early as possible so that districts do not have to “pink slip” teachers and staff because they are unsure of the amount of funding they will receive. Threats of cutting programs and staff do little to unite school districts.

I would hope not to see vouchers issued that allow students to attend private schools and take the money away from public schools. Iowa has been known for its strong public schools and promoting a plan that would weaken them would lessen our attraction to business and industries who might look to move to Iowa.

I would hope not to see a plan for merit pay for teachers that is tied directly to student performance on testing. A high-stakes test is not always a good measure of how much a student has learned.

Rewarding excellent teachers is a wonderful idea. But tying that reward to how well a student or a group of student performs is not a good idea. It would actually lead to competition among staff, and cooperation among staff members is the best way for all students to grow and learn.

In Iowa City, I am concerned about the community image of the school board and the district. With the recent issues about finding money and paying fines, having building projects that have to be redone within a short amount of time and the perception that the board has trouble working together, the next board will have to work hard to restore confidence and credibility.

I believe that I have the ability to help in that process. I work well with all parts of the community and have a reputation as a problem solver. I am not afraid of hard work and will start working for the board on Sept. 14.

Karla Cook, of Iowa City, married with two children, was a math teacher for 29 years, has served on various school district committees, and has worked with curriculum editing at ACT and supervising math student teachers for the University of Iowa. Comments:

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