116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Kara Larson, Geralyn Jones, Cara Lausen, Matt Rollinger, Melissa Walker and Rachel Wall are running for three at-large seats on the Linn-Mar Community School District Board. ► Get to know the other school board candidates
Name: Kara Larson
Office sought: Linn-Mar Community School Board at-large
Age: 45 (born Jan. 7, 1976)
Occupation: Executive assistant over finance at Covenant Family Solutions
Campaign website: facebook.com/groups/570833687385413
Have you held office before? If so, what office did you hold? No
Personal bio: My name is Kara Larson and I am running for Linn-Mar School Board. My husband and I have two children still in the district, a daughter in ninth grade and a son in seventh grade. We also have two boys who are no longer in school that are 18 and 19. I am a Linn Mar graduate. I have volunteered
extensively for the district, including serving as PTO president at Linn Grove for 4 years as well as Treasurer and Secretary. In that time I have logged over 2400 volunteer hours. I have regularly attended school board meetings over the last few years.
I have advocated for our district with our legislators in Des Moines and I have co-led the ‘Vote Yes' campaign for the bond.
Why are you seeking a seat on the school board?
I got involved in volunteering because I have a passion for our Linn-Mar students, teachers and staff, and that is why I am running for school board.
How do you rate the district’s current performance? What areas are going well, and what could be improved?
The district has had a tough couple of years, something that no one has seen before. Not only with the pandemic but with the derecho as well. I have nothing negative to say how the district has handled itself in the last few years, everything that has happened no one could have predicted or planned for. Were there bumps and struggles, of course with anything unpredictable you can expect that. But I am proud of our district and how it's handled things.
What are the three largest issues facing the school district and what will you do to address them?
1. Inclusivity is an issue that has been addressed over the years but in talking to students and parents it's still an issue that we need to continue to monitor and evolve. We need to make sure everyone is getting equal access to opportunities and resources, we need social inclusion. We have come a long way but I would like to reach out to students and parents to see where we could continue to improve.
2. Retention of our staff, especially our support staff. We need to not only make sure our pay is competitive but also do what can to keep our staff with us. I know over the last few years a lot of people are struggling to hire and retain staff. But our staff is special and we need to make sure they know that and that we want them to stay.
3. Overcrowding/rapid growth. I think is always a topic that comes up, currently with the new schools I think it's become less of an issue for now. But we always need to look torwards the future and make sure plans are in place.
What level of local control do you think school boards should have?
I think we need to make sure our school boards and districts continue to have the same local control they always have had. When our hands get tied and the needs of individual districts are not able to be addressed it never helps.
What will you do to be responsive to concerns by parents, students and staff? What type of communications should they expect from you?
I will be there for them to contact, by email, in person or through social media. I will continue to use my campaign page to communicate about what is going on in the district and at meetings. I also will continue to recommend those in the district to become involved by reading the meeting agendas and coming to meetings when they can, or viewing them on YouTube.
Should school districts be allowed to enact a mask requirement for students during the COVID-19 pandemic? If yes, what type of masking requirement would you want to see in place?
Yes I think schools should have local control back, and with that starting with being able to enact a mask requirement. Currently Linn Mar has a requirement for students pre-K through sixth grade, since those ages are unable to get the vaccine currently. I agree with their plan which includes 60 days after the vaccine is made available for the requirement for masks to go away. I think knowing there is an end point is important to many. But we need to allow those who want the vaccine to get it, as many parents I have talked to that is the one thing they worry the most about. They just want a chance for their kids to get the vaccine.
If you were required to cut the district’s budget, what areas would you look to for savings and why?
There would have to be areas that we could cut costs without hurting our staff or students', especially when it comes to their experiences, or help they need. So I would start the discussion there, and look at what we have done in the past.
Are there curriculum concerns that you have with the district? What are they? What process should the district use to address the concern?
I personal have no curriculum concerns with the district. I think there are always things we can look at to improve the curriculum, including at what other districts in our area are doing.