116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Shaun Kukuzke, Joshua Bates and Lindsey Staebler are running for the at-large seat on the Clear Creek Amana Community School District board. The Gazette did not receive responses from Staebler. ► Get to know the other candidates
Name: Shaun Kukuzke
Office sought: Clear Creek Amana Community School District board at-large
Age: 40 (born Aug. 16, 1981)
Occupation: Project manager, Dave Schmitt Construction
Campaign website: facebook.com/shaun.kukuzke
Have you held office before? No
Personal bio: Graduated from English Valleys High School. Received B.S. in Construction Management from the University of Northern Iowa. Married to my wife, Jessica Kukuzke, of 16 years and have two daughters, ages 11 and 13. Treasurer of the Clear Creek Amana School Foundation. Past board member of the Clear Creek Amana Youth Softball Club. Past member of Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
Why are you seeking a seat on the school board?
I am a dad of two girls in the CCA district. My wife and I have coached many youth sports teams and I have been an active member on the Clear Creek Amana Foundation Board since 2018 and currently serve as Treasurer with that organization. Through this office, I’ve created relationships with many school board and administration members, past and present. Recently, I’ve become concerned by the way politics have worked its way into more and more aspects of education. I’m running because I want to make sure that our focus is where it’s supposed to be — on our students, and giving them the tools, they need to go into the world and be successful in any career they choose.
How do you rate the district’s current performance? What areas are going well, and what could be improved?
My wife and I moved to the district five and a half years ago from College Community (Prairie). We picked CCA for a number of reasons. First, while we were at English Valleys we played against CCA in sports and we were familiar with the district. Secondly, we liked how CCA was growing. We wanted our girls to grow up in the community and be part of the CCA education system. Most importantly, we liked how it was a mixture of urban and rural, with some of the best characteristics of both. Because of this I believe the district has done lots of things well and will continue to move in the right direction. I am sure there are areas of improvement, but I am not running to overhaul or make dramatic changes. My goal is to keep the ship moving forward and always improving.
What are the three largest issues facing the school district and what will you do to address them?
1. Superintendent: We need one and I would like to be part of the search and hiring. We are a top-notch district and we need a top notch Super. Our past Super Tim was good. Let’s keep that momentum going and find even better.
2. Facilities and Growth: We are a district that is expanding very fast. We need to keep ahead of it and do it well. We need to retain our teachers and attract the best candidates through great facilities and great pay. I want to make sure our teachers have the best pay in the area and find ways to provide our teachers with benefits other districts do not offer. We are going to need more schools. With my construction background I believe I would be a great asset to the board.
3. Masks and Student Mental Health: When I decided to run months ago this was not an issue. I saw how happy students were compared to last year and with the state law, this was not even on my radar. Now with the federal judge’s ruling, mask mandates have come up again. I believe our current school board has made the correct decision so far in not mandating masks but recommending them. This has made me start looking into the students’ mental health vs the possibility of getting COVID. Until statistics and the constituents I hope to represent change my mind, I side with a student’s mental health and learning vs mandating masks.
What level of local control do you think school boards should have?
First and foremost, I believe the school’s main responsibility is education. A school’s job is to educate ALL kids, regardless of IQ levels, gender identification, political beliefs, or any other distinguishing factors. We live in America, where all are created equal. We cannot just see and teach from one side. This sort of behavior does a deep disservice to our students.
A public school board has the power it has from the State Government, the state should give the board enough local control as necessary to make sure the above is taken care of.
What will you do to be responsive to concerns by parents, students and staff? What type of communications should they expect from you?
I am not a big social media person (which I might have to become) but Facebook or Twitter are not my first priority. I will put time aside to respond to emails and phone calls. I am out in the district a lot and do not mind if individuals come up and talk to me. I would be an elected official and represent the entire district, no matter what I will make myself available. If certain issues become overwhelming and cannot respond, I will use resources available to do town hall style meetings if needed.
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?
In the State of Iowa, no a school board should not be able to because our State Government passed a law saying they cannot. If this was not our states law then yes, a school district could enact a mask mandate. Just because I believe a school board could I do not believe they should. If masks are needed, it should come from the State. I am for recommendation and for promotion. If teachers, students, and parents want to wear masks then please do so. As I stated in an earlier question, I believe a student’s mental health and education is far more important than wearing masks.
If you were required to cut the district’s budget, what areas would you look to for savings and why?
This is probably one of the toughest questions to answer. A district would probably have to cut the budget due to a lack of funding by taxes. This would not be good as it would probably relate to the economy and a recession. The first thing I would do is make a list of priorities.
1. NO LAYOFFS. Economy would already be hurting, do our best not to hurt it more. Lack of teachers and support staff hurts the kids. Have to keep education on top.
2. Look at maintenance budget. What is priority and what can be pushed till next year.
3. Capital improvements. Again, what can be pushed till next year, what can be redesigned, refinanced, etc.
4. Bring in administrators to see what could be cut in the individual schools
5. Work with local state legislators. Is this a long term hit or short term
6. Do we look at salary reductions?
7. And lastly, do we have to go back to number one and look at layoffs.
This would be a time the board would come together as a collective group to make sure we keep the highest standard of education for our students.
Are there curriculum concerns that you have with the district? What are they? What process should the district use to address the concern?
For the most part I do not have a lot of concerns. I am a big proponent of math, history and sciences so I would make sure these stay strong. I understand the question of some parents and probably all students of, “why do I need these?”
Math: We all know that after graduation most will not use the math, algebra, and calculus how they learned it. However, math trains your brain how to breakdown equations and simplify things or “chunk” things. These are lifelong lessons that you can use in any career and family. Also an element of personal finance which everyone needs eventually.
Science: The world is forever evolving and science is important for new discoveries, technologies, medicines and overall advancement.
History: This was my favorite subject. I love hearing about and reading about it. I think it is important to understand on how today’s society got to where it is today. I am a firm believer that history repeats itself and if we listen carefully, history is the steppingstones for tomorrow.
The concerns I have with public curricula today are political and political correctness. I fully agree with teaching government in schools and teaching the students about government and political parties however I believe it is the teachers and administrators’ responsibility to do it evenly. This goes for the library’s and assigned reading material as well.