Iowa City school board president resigns

Cites 'personal reasons'

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IOWA CITY — Iowa City school board President Sally Hoelscher resigned from the board late Tuesday night.

Hoelscher made her announcement in an email sent at 10:35 p.m. to her fellow board members and Superintendent Stephen Murley.

The two-sentence message said she was resigning immediately for personal reasons.

Hoelscher, of Iowa City, was elected to the school board in 2011, and her term was set to expire in September 2015. She was selected to be president by her fellow board members last September.

The school board will appoint someone to the open seat or, if it fails to do so, a special election will be held.

Hoelscher declined to further explain her decision in an email to The Gazette Wednesday.

“I have decided to resign from the ICCSD Board of Directors for personal reasons,” she said. “I have been honored to have the opportunity to serve in this way and have cherished the support of many in the community.”

Hoelscher was at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new school Tuesday afternoon and a school board meeting Tuesday night.

“It was a shock,” board member Tuyet Dorau said of the resignation.

Board Vice President Marla Swesey said she thought Hoelscher “had been pondering what to do for a while” and her reasons were personal.

Chris Lynch said although he does not know what prompted the resignation, he was not completely surprised.

He said community members are very engaged and passionate about school issues but sometimes that passion “goes beyond being productive and is more personal.”

“I think it reflects that it is a very stressful job, and I think at some point people need to acknowledge that and the community needs to acknowledge that,” Lynch said.

The school board has taken on several high-profile issues in recent years that have generated a lot of debate in the community. During Hoelscher’s term as president, those have included the implementation of a $258 million facilities plan, public comment at board meetings, budget cuts and the redrawing of school boundaries.

Murley, the superintendent, offered a similar explanation as Lynch, although he said his conversation with Hoelscher did not get into the details for her decision.

He said being on school board can be very satisfying, but when it starts to feel like a full-time job, there can be a level of dissatisfaction.

“These are volunteers who give up their time and talent and energies on behalf of our kids in the district,” Murley said.

Iowa law says the remaining school board members must appoint someone to fill the vacant seat until the next election with a school-related item on it, according to Kingsley Botchway II, Johnson County’s deputy auditor of elections. For now, that would be September 2015.

If the board doesn’t make an appointment within 30 days, a special election is held. Residents cannot petition for a special election.

Swesey, Dorau and Lynch said they did not have an immediate preference on how to fill Hoelscher’s seat, saying they want to talk with their fellow board members about it.

The board will need to appoint a new president, district spokesman Chace Ramey said.

“The District would like to thank Dr. Hoelscher for her service to the nearly 13,000 students and 2,000 employees of the Iowa City Community School District and for providing Board leadership as Board President for the last year,” the district said in a news release.

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