Linn-Mar school board candidate questionnaires

Election is September 12

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MARION — Six candidates are running for three four-year, at-large terms on the school board that governs Linn-Mar Community School District.

All responses come directly from the candidate and have not been edited for space or grammar by The Gazette. We are providing their full unedited responses, so that the public can experience the candidate’s thoughts and stances in full.

Bob Anderson
 

District: Linn-Mar

Age: 63

Educational Background: Bachelor of Music Education from Westmar College and graduate work a the University of Iowa

Occupation: Retired Public School Music Teacher

Questions

Do you have any children enrolled in the school district for the board seat you are seeking?

One son graduated from Linn-Mar in 2015

Have you held any prior elected offices? If yes, please list them.

No

What other volunteer or community involvement should voters know about? Please explain below.

During my career as a music educator I was actively involved in the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) at the state, regional, and national level. I was President of IowaCDA and the North Central Division of ACDA, as well as many other volunteer professional committees for ACDA.

Are there any issues, personal or professional, in which you have a conflict and may not be able to vote? If yes, please explain.

No

Why are you running for school board?

The Linn-Mar School District has had an immense impact on our family. My 22 year employment as a high school vocal music teacher at Linn-Mar allowed me to develop as an educator and choral conductor at a level that many other schools could not have offered me. More importantly, our son, Matthew, attended Linn-Mar from kindergarten through high school, graduating in 2015. The outstanding preparation he received in the Linn-Mar system prepared him at a high level to be successful as a college student at the University of Iowa. I want to give back to a school district that our family has been enriched by. I want to be a part of governing the continued development of the Linn-Mar schools for students now and in the future.

What are the three largest issues facing the district? What will you do to address them?

1. Meeting the challenge of constant student population growth to be sure the facilities and curriculum meet those ever changing needs. The Linn-Mar School Board needs to have a constant awareness of how much and in what areas of the district growth is immediately happening, as well as an overall view of how that growth is affecting student learning. I would strive to keep communication about this growth among the communities that encompass the Linn-Mar School District. With the city councils of those communities, as well as chambers of commerce, and other entities that guide the develop of our cities in the School District. With this information I would work in conjunction with other board members to first utilize the existing facilities to use them in the most efficient manner, and next consider, at the appropriate times, expansion of the Linn-Mar physical footprint. The concerns for the Board to be mindful of are the affects of facilities on student learning, and responsibility to utilize tax payers money for facilities in an efficient manner to maintain the learning and not over burden our patrons financially.
2. The diminishing support from Iowa state aid. The SSA (Supplemental State Aid) has been a part of Iowa's school finance system for many years. The State Legislature has annually determined a percentage increase in aid to school districts to help in building their budgets. The percentage of aid offered has been reduced significantly over the past few years, to the point where this past year that amount was only 1%. The actual aid needed by school districts to maintain current programming, balance budgets, and assure the highest opportunity for student learning is closer to 4%. As a member of the Linn-Mar School Board I would work with the Board to be certain the most efficient use of aid was a focus at all times. Beyond that I would be a strong advocate with our legislative leaders to make them aware of how critical the state aid situation is in maintaining the excellence of learning in the Linn-Mar School District. I would work in our area and Des Moines to advocate for the appropriate aid funding for our school.
3. Developing a strong contract for our outstanding teaching staff now that collective bargaining in Iowa has been eliminated. With the elimination of the collective bargaining process in our state, the responsibility for creating and maintaining an affective and strong contract for our teachers rests with the Linn-Mar School Board. Linn-Mar has traditionally hired and retained the best possible educators available. Without these professionals the high level of academic success Linn-Mar achieves would not be possible. If I am elected, I am excited to tackle the assignment to develop a contract tool that will help our district maintain the outstanding teaching staff we currently have and continue to recruit the finest in the field. As a board member I would promote a transparent and collaborative approach that will bring the Linn-Mar School Board and Linn-Mar Education Association together to create a model contract that will please our school district patrons and adequately reward our outstanding professional educators now and in the future.

If you're forced to cut the school district's budget, where do you look for savings? What would your funding priorities be? Please explain your answer.

If the School Board is ever forced to make budget cuts all areas of financial commitment would need analysis for consideration. The guiding principal for any cuts must guarantee that the highest level of support for student learning will be maintained.

What are the district's strengths? What will you do to support them?

1. The value the Linn-Mar community places on the importance of strong public education and high expectations for student learning.
2. The outstanding professional educators that work daily in Linn-Mar classrooms.
3. The remarkably high percentage of parent volunteers throughout our school district. I will work hard to continue the excellent traditions that are Linn-Mar and work for innovative ways to maintain the connection we have as a community of people interested in the highest level of learning for our children.

What areas can the school district improve or change? What will you do to help lead that improvement or change?

Linn-Mar needs to continually assess issues of equity in the educational programs of our district. We must assure that our educational opportunities are there for every student in an enriching way. As a board member I would research and institute opportunities to hear parents in regard to equity issues. Listening is key to assessing what issues need to be addressed. Beyond the listening, I would be an advocate for developing and improving opportunities to address these issues. Linn-Mar needs to continue to find ways to inform our parents, and of equal importance, patrons of the District that do not have children in school, about what is happening here. The new District web site has been a great step forward. We must educate our patrons to utilize the web site while also offering face to face opportunities that encourage positive discussions that lead to positive outcomes for the development of Linn-Mar.

Why should voters elect you and not one of your opponents?

I hope that Linn-Mar voters will elect me because they perceive my passion and vision for the ongoing development of our schools. I will work hard to be in touch with our patrons and place great value on being responsible and productive with tax payer funds. I will always put students first in all school board decisions.

How will you communicate with constituents and board members? What should the district do to communicate with those who don't have kids in the district?

There are so many ways to communicate information to our patrons. I will use every avenue from the Linn-Mar web site and other electronic media, to informative meetings, to the local news media to help keep people informed. I will make myself available to answer class="font-style:italic;font-size:16px;"important questions style="font-weight:bold;font-size:16px;" on a personal basis.

How should the district handle long term facility needs? What process do you envision supporting?

The bond issue that the Linn-Mar School Board has proposed, and will be voted upon September 12, is critical to the immediate and near future of our school district. There has been excellent and responsible consideration in the development of this bond issue vote. I support this issue 100%! As we go forward the School Board and Community must be in constant discussion regarding the wonderful problem of population growth in the Linn-Mar School District. We must be vigilant and working for the most creative and practical ways to continue to meet the facility needs of our students.

Bob Gabel
 

District: Linn-Mar

Age: 59

Educational Background: BS in Marketing and International Mgmt, MBA

Occupation: Program Manager, Rockwell Collins

Questions

Do you have any children enrolled in the school district for the board seat you are seeking?

Yes

Have you held any prior elected offices? If yes, please list them.

No. Up until now I have devoted 100% of my time to my career and my family. Now I have reached a time in my life that allows me to give back to my community.

What other volunteer or community involvement should voters know about? Please explain below.

Peewee football coach and following the challenges facing our community and the Linn-Mar school system.

Are there any issues, personal or professional, in which you have a conflict and may not be able to vote? If yes, please explain.

My career has reached a point where I can give back to the community that has served my family so well. So I am ready and able to serve the community that has served my family so well.

Why are you running for school board?

I have lived in Marion over 20 years. I am a father of four children, two daughters who are Linn-Mar graduates and two young sons who soon will be members of the Linn-Mar schools. My career with Rockwell Collins has taken me all over the world which has limited my ability to give back to the community. But I have reached that point in life where I can and do want to make a difference in the community and feel confident, that given the opportunity, I can. With my son starting at Echo Hill in the fall, I decided joining the Linn-Mar School Board would be the perfect opportunity. Planning for the future, recruiting the best talent and managing complex issues are something I have done for 35 years. As an active member of the School Board, I know I can use my experience in conflict resolution and consensus building to help Linn-Mar continue to be great. I know I can add value to the board as we plan be build an even better school system with teachers, school buildings and a curriculum for our community’s children which prepare them for their future and lead successful, productive lives.
As we look forward to this growth I think it is important to have many diverse voices involved in the discussion. A collaborative process that brings together a team focused on solving problems is done best by listening to people, raising questions and then focusing on results. Just as I have done for 35 years.

What are the three largest issues facing the district? What will you do to address them?

While it is clear the Linn-Mar school district is experiencing significant growth now and will in the future, so
Number 1) it will be essential to balance that growth with maintaining the quality of education our children deserve,
Number 2) we are accustomed to the highest standards, so we must maintain those standards when growing staff and facilities, And last but certainly not least we have to the judicious in our expenditures so we provide the community the best bang for their hard earned dollars. If elected, I will listen to the issues raised by the people who are the working through those issues every day. I will want to hear from the parents, the teachers and the students about what we can do to make a great school district even better. I do not come to the board with any preconceived notions. I do bring a willingness to listen to all parties and use my experience of working though complex problems, building consensus and achieving results.

If you're forced to cut the school district's budget, where do you look for savings? What would your funding priorities be? Please explain your answer.

I sincerely hope we will not be faced with any significant budget cuts, but in the unlikely event that did happen I would first look to what I would contend we should always be doing - that is ensuring we are maximizing benefits by using the most efficient processes. For example, we should always be looking for waste and solving problems in the most economical manner. We must be good stewards of the funds the community has entrusted us with. I firmly believe we will have the resources we need to prepare our students for their future. That is the first priority and that is where I will always start and finish when making funding decisions.

What are the district's strengths? What will you do to support them?

Linn-Mar is a great school district; in recent polls we are 3rd in the state and consistently ranked very well in testing performance, college acceptances, graduation rates, etc. This is a direct reflection on the quality of our teachers and administrative staff. As a parent I am always amaze at the dedication I see in the teachers who manage to work through all the issues of the day while continuing to make our children ready to take on the world. Further I think the support we as a community give our district is key to ensuring we have a great learning environment. It is because of the parents who come forward to support the district either by volunteering in the schools, running for the school board, and/or supporting their children, our students. It is because of the quality of the Linn-Mar facility and staff and their focus on preparing our students for their future. This is demonstrated in the sprint the students show in their schools, their dedication to be being the best they can be, and their giving back to their community as they grow to be parents. My support to those who make us great will be focused, measured and it will always be there.

What areas can the school district improve or change? What will you do to help lead that improvement or change?

As I mentioned I do not come to the board with any preconceived areas that need improvement but rather a willingness to listen to parents, teachers and students on what we can do better. I am a change agent and that means listening, getting to the root cause of issues and it comes from taking measurable actions that lead to improvement.

Why should voters elect you and not one of your opponents?

I can only speak as to why voters should vote for me. I am ready, willing and able to help the school board. I believe the board and community are best served by having members with a diverse background all focused on the education of our children. I will bring an open mind; I will leverage what I learned in achieving my MBA as well as my experience in negotiating, planning and running multi-million dollars programs successfully. I currently manage execution activities similar in size and complexity to the proposed bond issue. With this experience, along with my diverse background, I firmly believe the community would benefit from the execution leadership experience I will bring to the board. With an open mind and experience bringing complex programs to successful conclusion I will assist the board in bringing the new schools on board in an efficient manner, I will use my listening skills to bring consensus to issues that might arise and with a school budget approaching $80M I will be a representative of the community to ensure we are bring best value solutions to all our stakeholders - the students, the teachers and the parents.

How will you communicate with constituents and board members? What should the district do to communicate with those who don't have kids in the district?

For the District it is only appropriate for the School Board to communicate the business of the board and the school district. However, I would plan on continuing my uses of social media to keep our district inform on upcoming events. You may Like and follow me on Facebook at “Bob Gabel for Linn-Mar School Board. I would also create a webpage blog, to communicate current events within our district and to provide a forum for constituents to communicate their opinions. I would plan on communicate with other board members via direct communication during meetings, email/telephone between sessions and whatever other means the board members are comfortable using as communication methods. Additionally, I would welcome opportunities to leverage traditional media methods (newspaper, radio, tv, etc.) to communicate with the community. I think these methods of communication would be applicable to all members of our community.

How should the district handle long term facility needs? What process do you envision supporting?

I think Linn-Mar has done a great job monitoring and tracking the growth in our district. I believe if the school bond is approved, we will continue to stay ahead of the growth and minimize impact to the learning experience we want for our children. I’ll say it again; we must be good stewards of our tax dollars. Members of our community want a great school district, but that does not come with unlimited budget. My career has focused on providing best value. That thought process is what I will bring to the Linn-Mar School Board, if elected.

Cara Lausen
 

District: Linn-Mar

Age: 34

Educational Background: BA, Mount Mercy University, studying political science, economics and sociology

Occupation: Office Manager

Questions

Do you have any children enrolled in the school district for the board seat you are seeking?

Yes

Have you held any prior elected offices? If yes, please list them.

Bowman Woods PTO Vice President 2015-2016 and Bowman Woods PTO President 2016-2017

What other volunteer or community involvement should voters know about? Please explain below.

I have been very involved in our district for the past 7 years, starting out initially as a parent volunteer through Linn-Mar's phenomenal volunteer program and Bowman Woods Elementary's PTO. I worked with my fellow PTO members to shift the focus of the PTO to one annual fundraiser and a whole year of free fun for all of our families, with this change we were able to largely boost attendance at our events while still raising enough funds to continue to support our students and teachers. After attending my first school board meeting years ago I was hooked. I regularly attend school board meetings, both work and open sessions, as well as other types of community meetings (i.e. coffee conversations hosted by the board). I have served on the district's equity committee, health and human development committee and most recently I was honored to be asked to serve on the facilities committee. The facilities committee was made up of community members, parents, teachers and staff of our district and was tasked with making recommendations to the board regarding the proposed restructuring plan and the district's priorities regarding the bond and the changes we could make in our existing buildings. I also have helped to organize a visit to Des Moines with some fellow Linn-Mar parents to meet with our legislators and impress upon them the importance of adequate school funding and the disservice unfunded mandates do to our schools (at the time the issues were 3rd grade retention/summer school and smarter balanced testing). I also regularly attend town hall meetings for both republican and democrat representatives to stay informed and to have the opportunity to express the importance of public education and other important issues. I also am currently working with one of my peers to lead the "Vote Yes" campaign for the bond issue before our voters, you can find our work at https://www.facebook.com/LMVoteYes/. This work requires us to not only do grassroots level campaigning with our constituents but has given us the opportunity to work very closely with school administration and board to ensure we always have the most accurate and up to date information to give to our constituents.

Are there any issues, personal or professional, in which you have a conflict and may not be able to vote? If yes, please explain.

Not that I can foresee.

Why are you running for school board?

I have been inspired by the unwavering dedication I have seen from Linn-Mar teachers and staff and I want to support them in the best way I know how, by advocating for them. I have a sincere passion for the students in our district, but specifically for our at-risk population, and I want to ensure that Linn-Mar continues to place ALL our students on their unique path to success by offering a diverse set of learning opportunities. I believe in the path of growth the district is on, I stand behind our strategic plan and I am excited to see what the future holds for us.

What are the three largest issues facing the district? What will you do to address them?

"Space - The bond issue passing will be critical in our ability to address this need, we need to ensure that our staff has the space that they need to most effectively do their jobs of educating our future. Space does not only mean physical square footage or classroom sizes though, they also need to be utilizing the appropriate space for their jobs. A closet is not an office, a breakroom is not a classroom, and a boiler room is not a breakroom. The bond passing is the most effective way for us to provide our teachers and staff with what they need. I have been working tirelessly to ensure our parents and other constituents understand the importance of passing this bond and I very much look forward to the opportunity to work at implementing the restructuring plan and improvements at our historic buildings when the bond passes. I cannot wait to give our students and staff the breathing room they so richly deserve.
Booming Population Growth - At every school board meeting I attend the report from the city council meetings is always about new developments and new roads. We are facing rapid growth across all grade levels year over year. Linn-Mar has been a top tier district year over year, out performing state and grant wood testing averages across all metrics. I firmly believe that this is due to the individualized attention our teachers and staff are able to provide students. I want to ensure that our teachers have correct and accurate data on each student so we are able to continue to provide individual success to all our students. Steps have been made to provide teachers with data and metrics on all our students and this school year they will be provided with even more thanks to steps the administration has taken to further utilize Powerschool to refine the data into a more workable set. I also believe that continuing to utilize effectively our teacher leadership program, as well as keeping up on innovative learning programs (such as blended learning and IowaBIG) will equip our students for success even as our population continues to grow and diversify even further.
Adequate School Funding - While we are lucky to be a district that is currently fiscally healthy, we face the same issue that all public schools are facing in the state, unfunded mandates, lower and lower SSA and a general funding shortage. Our teachers have spent time brainstorming on ways THEY can cut costs in a funding climate where they're already personally furnishing so much for their classrooms. I have already been advocating against unfunded mandates and for SSA at 4% or higher, as a school board member I will continue this advocacy just in a more official capacity. Currently, the legislature will be working to develop the Iowa implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act and it will need to be an important focus of the board to ensure that burdensome legislation isn't placed on Iowa schools."

If you're forced to cut the school district's budget, where do you look for savings? What would your funding priorities be? Please explain your answer.

This is a no-win question, however, our district's number one priority is and should always be educating our students.

What are the district's strengths? What will you do to support them?

Linn-Mar's number one strength is our community. The Linn-Mar family is supporting and unwavering. Our parents, students, staff, and of course our teachers are all part of that community, as well as community members who are not directly impacted by our schools. Being available to our community, being visible and always available to listen to success stories as well as concerns and help to the best of my ability is the greatest way that I can serve our Linn-Mar family.

What areas can the school district improve or change? What will you do to help lead that improvement or change?

Last school year Linn-Mar utilized Thought Exchange to survey our parents, community members, and students to get a clear picture of what is important to the community we serve. Nearly 2,000 individuals presented over 4,500 ideas, opinions and thoughts about our district - our community is INVESTED in our success and this is tremendous, we need to continue to work towards doing a better job of listening to our stakeholders and responding accordingly. As a district, and specifically the administration and board members, can do this a number of ways, many of which are continuing to utilize programs already in place. Coffee Conversations, Lunchtime Learning, and other in-person meetings have proven to be a great opportunity to meet with decision makers and get our questions answered on a variety of topics. It also gives board members the opportunity to keep their finger on the pulse of what is important at that moment to the people they have been elected to serve, if elected I will be sure to keep these meetings in place. I also would like to see the Thought Exchange to be a reoccurring, hopefully annually depending on cost, practice in our district. The facilities committee I served on was able to utilize the survey as a starting point for developing priorities for the restructuring plan and the bond language itself. For example, it allowed us to realize that our parents and students resoundingly wanted to see major investment and improvements in our historic buildings, and we were able to ensure that it stayed a priority. This level of open dialogue with our stakeholders needs to continue to grow, I will make sure it does.

Why should voters elect you and not one of your opponents?

My involvement in the district will prove invaluable in the years ahead as we implement not only the district restructuring but the strategic plan as well. Because I have served on committees, attended countless meetings my district knowledge will allow for a short learning curve. I see and respect the intricacies of operating a district of our size and I don't pretend to have all the answers. I am not afraid to ask for the information I need to ensure I have an informed opinion and can make the right decision at the right time. I also realize and understand the importance of working together as a board and with the district administration to ensure the best possible outcome for all students. I am fortunate to have worked with all the board members, current and outgoing, in one capacity or another over the last few years as well as the district administration. This should also ensure that we can quickly roll our sleeves up and get to work as a team.

How will you communicate with constituents and board members? What should the district do to communicate with those who don't have kids in the district?

I consider myself lucky, because I enjoy having discussions about school related issues across multiple platforms. You will find me active on Facebook and email, as well as other technological means of communication, but I am also aware that not everyone prefers or is able to utilize these methods. For that reason I look forward to the opportunity to attend in person meetings, be present in our buildings and at events, and generally make myself available. The district should communicate with constituents without students in our district via mailings and press, as well as continue to update our new (wonderful) website, Twitter, and Facebook pages regularly with what is happening in our district. These could be informational as well as celebratory by highlighting student and staff achievement.

How should the district handle long term facility needs? What process do you envision supporting?

It has been clear from the beginning that the redistricting is only the beginning of tackling ongoing district growth, the administration and board will need to keep constant tabs on class sizes, building capacity and ensure we are using the current spaces as efficiently as possible without hindering student learning and safety. Dr Shepherd put it well when he likened district growth as a 'bouncing ball,' we need to be re-evaluating our facilities each year, not just by looking at the numbers and data but by being in our buildings and meeting with principals and staff to be sure their needs are being met. I will support what is best for our students and teachers while still being economically feasible for our district. Prior to deciding to support the bond I met with our CFO/COO, JT Anderson, so I could be sure that this bond referendum wouldn't hurt our ability to go after future bond funds when we need to add a second high school. Currently, we do not have enough students to ensure equal facilities and programs at two high schools, but I needed to be sure we would be able to when the need would arise. The rate we are currently paying down past bonds will allow us to go after future bond funds for projects that will need to be done.

John Sauer
 

District: Linn-Mar

Age: 69

Educational Background: Educational Specialist in Education Administration

Occupation: Retired

Questions

Do you have any children enrolled in the school district for the board seat you are seeking?

Grandchildren

Have you held any prior elected offices? If yes, please list them.

No

What other volunteer or community involvement should voters know about? Please explain below.

No Answer Provided

Are there any issues, personal or professional, in which you have a conflict and may not be able to vote? If yes, please explain.

No conflicts

Why are you running for school board?

I would like to continue L-M's great reputation.

What are the three largest issues facing the district? What will you do to address them?

Keeping up with student growth, financial uncertainty, and improving communications.

If you're forced to cut the school district's budget, where do you look for savings? What would your funding priorities be? Please explain your answer.

The biggest expenditure is staff and benefits. In most districts, this takes 85% of the entire budget. There are other options for cutting the budget. I have been involved with major in districts before.

What are the district's strengths? What will you do to support them?

Parental support, the increasing number of students, and a highly talented faculty and staff.

What areas can the school district improve or change? What will you do to help lead that improvement or change?

The maintenance of facilities and improvement of communications.

Why should voters elect you and not one of your opponents?

I bring a unique set of experiences to the board. Years of working with the problems that face districts.

How will you communicate with constituents and board members? What should the district do to communicate with those who don't have kids in the district?

I hope to be able to use facebook and email to summarize the actions of the board.

How should the district handle long term facility needs? What process do you envision supporting?

involving as many people as possible is the only way to make decisions.

Rachel Wall
 

District: Linn-Mar

Age: 31

Educational Background: Studied Mathematics at the University of Iowa

Occupation: Stay-at-home mom

Questions

Do you have any children enrolled in the school district for the board seat you are seeking?

Yes

Have you held any prior elected offices? If yes, please list them.

No

What other volunteer or community involvement should voters know about? Please explain below.

I am an active volunteer at Indian Creek Elementary, regularly attending volunteer workshops. I have participated the last two years in the district-wide 4th Grade States Project making presentations to students from each elementary school. In addition, I have accepted an invitation to coordinate the America Reads program at Indian Creek this year.

Are there any issues, personal or professional, in which you have a conflict and may not be able to vote? If yes, please explain.

No

Why are you running for school board?

I am running for school board because I am deeply passionate about public education. Few things have the ability to be transformative in the way a quality education can. As the great equalizer, education can change children’s lives. I care about all of our Linn-Mar students and staff and I am dedicated to making sure that we provide them with the necessary tools for success and the opportunity for a bright future. As the board faces new challenges, competent leadership, transparency and responsible fiscal stewardship are essential. I am prepared to take on these challenges, and eager to serve our community as a member of the Linn-Mar school board.

What are the three largest issues facing the district? What will you do to address them?

"The three biggest challenges that Linn-Mar faces are population growth, sweeping changes to collective bargaining, and budgetary issues related to underfunding from the state.
On the ballot this election, is an $80 million bond proposal that would pay for two 5-6 buildings and a K-4 building, as well as renovations to the “historic” elementary schools and Excelsior Middle School. This restructuring offers the most cost-effective way to address burgeoning growth in Linn-Mar and passage of the bond is critical.
This year the board will grapple with the 2017 legislation out of Des Moines that ushered in significant changes to collective bargaining. Many of our teachers are understandably concerned about what this will mean for their livelihoods and professional development, and the board must do its best to reassure teachers that they won’t have the rug pulled out from under them. Our teachers are the backbone of our district and we must support them.
Linn-Mar, and all districts, will likely face continued budgetary challenges from inadequate increases to Supplemental State Aid (SSA). While we hope that the state will recognize the importance of education and provide minimum increases of 4%, we will have to prepare for the likelihood that any increases will fall far below that level. While seeking creative ways to make that money go further, I pledge to make sure that students and their education always come first. "

If you're forced to cut the school district's budget, where do you look for savings? What would your funding priorities be? Please explain your answer.

Any cuts to the budget will first and foremost have to be non-personnel. This means supplies, non-instructional software licensure and the like. Next I will look at redundancy in administration and support services. The students, their education and instruction, must be unequivocally number one.

What are the district's strengths? What will you do to support them?

Linn Mar’s greatest strength is our teachers. To maintain the excellence that our district is known for, we must continue to recruit and retain the caliber of educators that we have historically. In order to do that, we must address our facilities issues and the fallout from collective bargaining reform. I will always get input from our teachers to make sure that any decisions that are made, are made with them in mind. The education of our students is my top priority, and I will always remember that our teachers are the key to that end.

What areas can the school district improve or change? What will you do to help lead that improvement or change?

(Combined answer with question below about communication) I am very proud of the work our board has done. With that said, I believe we can do a better job with communication and transparency. We need to get out in front of the community more and be sure that we’re using all modalities as a means of getting information to our constituents, not just to our students and parents, but to all members of our community. The communication must go both ways. It is as important for the board to hear from the community as it is for the community to hear from us. “Coffee and Conversations” is a great opportunity for dialogue. Touring our schools on a regular basis allows us to get valuable input from our teachers and administrators. We should use the newspaper more, as this is a primary means of receiving information for many of our older residents. I will maintain a Facebook page specific to my board work, and use it as a more centralized place for constituents to find links to district-related information from the Gazette, Linn-Mar’s website and Facebook page, and other relevant sources, in addition to my own posts about district and board business.

Why should voters elect you and not one of your opponents?

The board benefits from diversity of thought and diversity of experience. I offer a unique perspective as the parent of elementary-aged children and a younger member of our community. My experience in research, and commitment to on-going learning, drives my understanding of the complexities of how the board and district operate. Additionally, I have met with and developed relationships with existing board members, teachers and staff that I believe will be invaluable.

How will you communicate with constituents and board members? What should the district do to communicate with those who don't have kids in the district?

See Above

How should the district handle long term facility needs? What process do you envision supporting?

I fully support the bond referendum as means of addressing long-term facility needs.

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

 

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