Education

In bid for Cedar Rapids school board, Janelle Lund calls for transparency, changes to facilities plan

Lund is against plan to close 8 elementary schools

CEDAR RAPIDS — Janelle Lund, a stay-at-home mom and critic of the school district’s plan to close eight schools, said she would be a voice for transparency on the Cedar Rapids school board.

Lund, 36, is one of five candidates on the Nov. 5 ballot for two at-large seats on the school board.

She said she decided to run for school board to campaign against the district’s facilities master plan, which she thinks was developed without sufficient community input and rubber-stamped by the school board.

“My push now is a ‘no’ vote on Public Measure E,” the school district revenue purpose statement on the ballot, she said. “Right now, the school district has way too much power, and the community has no idea.”

The Cedar Rapids Community School District’s revenue purpose statement is a broad outline of how the district could use revenue from a state penny sales tax known as SAVE, which the district has said would fund the bulk of its facilities master plan. The plan would reshape the district’s elementary schools by closing eight, razing and replacing 10 and renovating the remaining three.

Lund said she would advocate for reviewing the plan and making substantial changes.

“We have to look back into everything from the beginning,” she said. “I’m not a fan of closing schools by any means. If there’s something else we could do, we should.”

Her two children attend Coolidge Elementary — the first school on deck to be replaced with a new building — part time; she home-schools them in the mornings. Although some staff at Coolidge have expressed a need for a modern facility, Lund said the plan should stop before construction of a new school at the site begins. The board already has approved an architect for the new school and hosted public community input meetings.

Lund attended those meetings and said she is unconvinced the district or the board is seeking genuine input.

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Overall, Lund said people elected to the school board should be more accessible to the public and critical of the school district. The board unanimously approved the facilities plan in January 2018 despite scores of protesters at the meeting.

“The school district is in charge, and it should be the other way around,” she said. “The community should have more power. ... No wonder everything is the way it is — you hope you’re getting a voice through these people, but that’s not how it is.”

Lund said she also would speak up for teachers during contract negotiations and would try to address behavioral issues in the classroom.

Other at-large candidates for the school board are Maurice Davis, Cindy Garlock, Joseph Miller and Jen Neumann. Terms on the school board are for four years and are unpaid.

Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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