Guest Columnists

Paul Roesler: Build consensus, value experience

The Iowa City area has been my home for over 35 years. I was fortunate enough to attend the Iowa City school district and University of Iowa. I met my wife in high school and we decided to raise our kids in Iowa City because we love the community and the schools. My wife has taught at Mark Twain Elementary for 13 years, my daughters attend South East Junior High and Lemme Elementary.

I have worked at Scheels for 18 years. My current position allows me to help Scheels give back to the community by partnering with entities like United Way, the Ronald McDonald House and the Iowa City school district. I have consistently volunteered my time to the Iowa City school district. I am a member of the District Parents Organization, the School Improvement Advisory Committee, and have participated in multiple principal hiring committees while volunteering in my children’s school and serving on the PTA. For three years, I have attended almost every school board and committee meeting. I have spent hundreds of hours learning about and listening to discussions regarding curriculum, standardized testing, special education concerns, overcrowding, and equity matters.

To be effective, the school board needs to build consensus while valuing the experiences and opinions of the other board members. In 2017 the district needs to pass a General Obligation Bond to support the 10-Year Facility Master Plan (FMP). The FMP provides benchmarks for current and future improvements and new construction that will benefit students districtwide. To regain the community’s confidence, the board must remain committed to the FMP. We have already begun to benefit from the plan with the construction of Alexander Elementary and Liberty High School, and renovations to Twain, Penn and Coralville Central. The FMP will continue to mitigate overcrowding and reinvigorate students and teachers who have been waiting for air conditioning, wheelchair accessibility, and multipurpose rooms (to name a few).

I have spent years listening to teachers in our district (including my wife). The teachers, counselors, and administrative staff have expressed their desire to move on from talking about bell schedules, boundaries and focus on progress. Our board tends to revisit decisions every election cycle. This constant reanalysis often results in paralysis. That is to say, our community is stuck waiting for progress. The four-to-three member rejection of the May 2015 secondary boundary plan has had this effect. We need to settle the secondary boundaries so we can return focus to the classroom and explore progressive and exciting instructional opportunities.

The Iowa City school district has an opportunity to create student populations in secondary schools that reflect our diverse community. The May 2015 secondary boundaries plan moved our district closer to this goal. If I am elected, I will vote with the majority of the board to reinstate the May 2015 secondary boundaries. Economically and racially diverse classrooms allow children to learn invaluable lessons about cultures, experiences, and histories different from their own. When we consider current events, I can’t think of a more important lesson for our children to learn to make them better people and to give all of us a better future.

If you support district unity and progress, and if you are excited about a board that works collaboratively on exploring and implementing new opportunities in the classroom, I am your candidate.

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The Iowa City school board special election will be Tuesday, July 19.

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