116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
This week the Cedar Rapids School Board accepted Superintendent Noreen Bush’s resignation, effective June 30, 2023, during an emotional meeting.
“I absolutely love our district,” Bush said in a Zoom video call during the meeting, according to reporting by The Gazette’s Grace King. Bush was diagnosed with cancer more than two years ago and is on medical leave. “I absolutely love serving as superintendent. And so it comes with a heavy heart to ask for the acceptance of my resignation …
“My greatest hope is I have an unbelievable miracle land in my lap, and, on June 30, I am able to exit as superintendent and still serve (the district), perhaps back in the classroom,” Bush said.
We share her hope, and regret that medical issues are forcing her to leave the job she loves. We wish her the best.
And we challenge the school board to channel its emotions and grief into resolve and honor Bush’s zeal for student success to make strong leadership decisions that will be best for the district’s and students’ future.
Although there is no need to make decisions quickly, the board does need to move with strong purpose. Members should form a superintendent search committee that has a good mix of people outside the district’s leadership. It should include parents, business leaders and others, including local government leaders serving in an ex officio capacity. The connections made in the search process can help the eventual successor build lasting connections quickly upon accepting the job.
For a board that has clearly sought long-term, stable leadership, Bush’s resignation brings them back to a difficult place.
It may also be a good idea to build an advisory committee for the district’s ambitious facilities plan to get started on the work needed to sell the plan to the community. Former board members, recently retired business leaders and maybe a former superintendent would be good picks for an advisory panel of doers that can lay the strategic groundwork needed for a successful communitywide vote. It’s a heavy lift that can’t be handled alone by an interim superintendent.
The board should also consider whether the March timeline for a public vote on a $312 million bond issue for renovation and construction of secondary schools remains realistic. Many specific details need to be worked out in order to secure approval from 60 percent of voters.
Now is not the time for delayed leadership or for hitting pause to grieve. It’s time for strong and focused leadership that calls on specific people with specific purposes to rise to the challenge in a time of need.
(319) 398-8262; firstname.lastname@example.org