Staff Editorial

Endorsement: Three School Board seats on the ballot in Cedar Rapids

Students board a bus at Roosevelt Middle School in Cedar Rapids on Friday, June 1, 2018. Today was the last day of school for students in Cedar Rapids Community Schools and surrounding districts. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Students board a bus at Roosevelt Middle School in Cedar Rapids on Friday, June 1, 2018. Today was the last day of school for students in Cedar Rapids Community Schools and surrounding districts. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

School board elections aren’t as attention grabbing as the quagmire of our presidential election, but they are no less important.

• Davis: Treat students like humans, not test scores

• Garlock: Passion for public education runs deep

• Lund: Start honest and open dialogue with educators

• Miller: Straight answers for Cedar Rapids schools

• Neumann: Great teachers deliver student success

Last year, the Cedar Rapids school board proposed a facilities plan that was met with consternation from residents, who opposed the closing of eight schools. After multiple meetings and adjustments to the plan, the school board voted to move forward. The health of our schools and the crumbling infrastructure of the buildings was too big of a problem not to contend with. That plan and the concerns surrounding it inspired a new crop of school board candidates to enter the race. In the Cedar Rapids Community School District at-large race there are no incumbents running. In the Cedar Rapids District 4 race, there is only one incumbent.

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But beyond the future of the facilities plan, at stake in this election is the selection of a new superintendent, the ever widening achievement gap, school safety and the renegotiation of the teachers union contract. Because this election is about so much more than just the facilities plan, The Gazette’s editorial board chose to endorse the candidates who had a vision for our schools beyond just the facilities plan: Jennifer Neumann and Maurice Davis in the at-large race and Rafael Jacobo in the District 4 race.

In the at-large race, all candidates showed a deep love and passion for our city’s schools and the future of our children and neighborhoods. Cindy Garlock, a former teacher, demonstrated a deep knowledge about the needs of teachers and the learning process for students.

Janelle Lund had done more research into the intricacies of the facilities plan than any other candidate, but was a single-issue candidate.

Joseph Miller, a lawyer and father of six kids, has a clear and vested interest in the schools but also focused much of his candidacy on the facilities plan.

But both Davis and Neumann demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of all the issues facing our city and our schools.

Both have deep ties within the community and a demonstrated ability to listen to the concerns of parents and neighborhoods.

Neumann, who founded and runs de Novo marketing, is focused on hiring the right superintendent, providing all students with a pathway to success, specifically beyond college, and ensuring that schools are safe for children physically and emotionally.

Davis, of the Jane Boyd Community House, wants to improve the efficacy of communication between the school board and the community and narrow the achievement gap between white students and students of color. All candidates received the endorsement of the teachers union.

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In the District 4 race between Jocobo, the incumbent, and Dexter Merschbrock, The Gazette is endorsing Jacobo.

Jacobo: No one-size-fits-all approach to education

Merschbrock: Community won’t forget tough questions

Merschbrock brought a lot of passion to his campaign and as a postal worker has engaged the community in a conversation about their concerns with the facilities plan. While Jacobo was the only candidate not endorsed by the teachers union, because of their concerns with his role in the last round of bargaining, Jacobo provides experience and an in-depth knowledge of the process and procedure of the school board and has big ideas for the future of our schools.

While all candidates are concerned about the facilities plan, the issues facing Cedar Rapids Community Schools extends beyond that single issue and into the future health and success of our kids.

Comments: (319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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