Sunday, May 25, 2014

That was then

I’ve been drafting a post about what our current board members said about redistricting when they were running for the board, and I came across this moment, on a different issue, from the 2011 school board campaign (transcript after the jump):

All five of those candidates, after they were elected, supported the plan to close Hoover Elementary and build 500-student schools in cornfields on the edge of town. (Four of them voted “yes” on the closure. Swesey, after explaining why she was going to vote “yes,” voted “no” when it became clear that there were enough votes to pass it without her support. In any event, she later opposed reconsidering the closure.) It’s enough to make you wonder whether there’s any point in going to candidate forums. Sure, board members can change their minds about an issue. But if you run for office on one platform, and then suddenly realize, after you’re elected, that you support a very different one, shouldn’t you get the community on board for your new opinion before imposing it? Here’s the transcript of the video. (I’ve edited the original down to just the candidates who were elected.) Question: What is your opinion of replacing or refurbishing older, centrally located schools, versus closing older schools and moving outward with newer schools? Patti Fields: I think we first have to look at each situation individually, in the sense that the schools are at the hub of their own communities within neighborhoods and within their attendance areas, and we actually don’t have a lot of schools that are pure neighborhood schools, we have a great mix of those. But I also think that it depends on the building, and what condition it’s in, and its current use. Right now we have many buildings in our district that are multiple ages, and some have greater needs than others, but we aren’t at a point where that’s a concern immediately, but over time, as a long-range plan, it may be. However, I’m not necessarily in favor of building on the outside of the area, and large schools in that sense, because that just really kind of creates a disconnect with communities and neighborhoods. Sally Hoelscher: I’m a proponent of utilizing the resources that we have to their fullest capacity whenever possible, and so whenever possible, I would like to see us use our existing buildings before we build new. Now in order to be able to do that, that means that we need to maintain those buildings, which requires some planning. So we need to have a long-term plan and plan for how we are taking care of our buildings, so that we can continue to use them for as long as possible. And then the second part of that question, as far as moving the schools out, I am not in favor of that. Schools are a community, and I think the kids in the school and the parents and the teachers all benefit from that community, and I think that’s an important part of it and is best achieved if the school is centrally located. Jeff McGinness: One of the main reasons my wife and I decided to return back to Iowa City from Chicago and Naperville was my experience in this education system, and that included growing up in Wood. There’s been a lot of talk about neighborhood schools, and a lot of different definitions thrown out about that, and for me, my experience at Wood was, it was a school that not only did the teachers know most of the kids’ names in the school, whether they were in their class or not, but most of the parents did as well, and they cared about them, and they looked out for their educational well-being as well. And so I see a lot of value in that, and I think that’s something that’s often overlooked when we talk about why we have such great schools. We talk about great teachers, obviously we have those. We have great parents. The two biggest factors in a kid’s education, obviously, are the teachers and the level of parental involvement. Something that also is overlooked is that sort of small school culture that we have, and we have a number of those in our district, and I think if we continue to, you know, get bigger and newer, we’re going to lose that, it’s going to lose that sort of at-home culture, community, whatever-you-want-to-call-it feel that a lot of them have. Marla Swesey: I started my teaching career in the Iowa City Community School District at Roosevelt Elementary School, and so I had a fondness for that school and its school community. I went to the eightieth birthday celebration not long ago, and I looked at the building and I could tell that it had not been kept up, and I talked to the teachers, and they knew that that was happening all along. When I was there and I was teaching, I couldn’t tell that there was anything wrong with the building at all. It was very comfortable. Things were working well. So I really do believe that if we are going to maintain some of these fine unique buildings that we have, which I think is a good plan, we need to keep them out of that unfixable disrepair mode and maintain our buildings. They need to be kept updated for accessibility, and also technology, and I think that as long as they are safe and supportive for our students, then they should be kept in their neighborhood center. Karla Cook: I am a fan of using existing facilities that we do have. I do love the older buildings and their architecture. I do know that there are concerns, there’s electrical, air-conditioning concerns, there’s handicap-accessibility concerns, there’s safety concerns, for example, asbestos or lead paint, those types of things, but keeping that in mind, I’d rather fix something than replace it. I looked at some numbers today in the district and found out that all of the new schools, or the last ones that have been built, are 506-student capacity. I’m not sure why it’s 506, but if you go and find it, those all are. That’s a little big for my taste. I would prefer to have schools that are smaller than that, as Jeff said where students know each other, where the teachers know almost every student in the school. I just think the neighborhoods cycle, and when you have small schools, students have grown up and left and their parents are still living there, and they come back and there will be young families again. .


Anonymous said...

Well we have at least one school board member who has been sanctioned for lying and unethical behavior, the details in the Supreme Court reprimand show that the whole episode was extremely egregious and not just a "whoops I made a mistake" deal but a complicated plan to intentionally lie and cover up his behavior so I guess it is not a stretch to say that we have to take anything our school board says with a huge grain of salt. See

Anonymous said...

No. 13–1213

Anonymous said...

I am not an attorney but why is this not a criminal case? Would this not meet the standard for wire fraud?

Anonymous said...

Jeff's profile still lists him as employed by Simmons Perrine Moyer
Bergman, it is probably just an over site, I have watched him wrestle on youtube and he was a heck of a wrestler it is a shame that this is the direction he has taken.

Julie VanDyke said...

I am only at 2:43 and I'm already absolutely nauseated.

Julie VanDyke said...

Chris says, "It’s enough to make you wonder whether there’s any point in going to candidate forums."

Chris, that's not fair. You are ignoring the fact that the 5 candidates that didn't get elected all had answers too, which you didn't show no doubt in the interest of brevity and focusing on your point. So, if the answers of the other five candidates were completely honest and they would have kept their "platform" "promises", where would we be right now. Hmmmm, had the voters in this district voted in any of the other candidates instead of the particular 5 they did the other candidates being: a district parent and strong North Corridor support VAMC doctor; a district parent, Veteran, computer tech, labor union steward; 2 district parents and school district watchdogs who attended every board meeting for years before the election (as opposed to the rest of the candidates) and do so at personal risk to this day; a former district Safety Coordinator, spouse of a district Teacher, one of the few people that had SERIOUS internal knowledge of the "monster" the district was at that time about open bidding and accountability ...that was the period of the 2.5 million accounting error by Bobek (and another huge one that was hmmm, maybe 1.5 memory of that amount is less clear than the reason it happened, but it never received news or media coverage anyway...nope, just me and Phil calling them on it in Community Comment...

If you remember, and I know I do, that was the justification for many that did not vote in any of the other 5 candidates. Guess what folks, sometimes the direct, candid and open, critical and engaged, knowledgeable and well-informed, no b------t candidates that have actually attended all the meetings are in your better interest more so than the ones that play nice nice for the camera till they get elected. Other than the VA doctor, who I haven't seen since that election, the other three and myself are the same people who still feel the same way we did in the part of the video we didn't see.

Chris, I have to give you a total pass...because, based on what you wrote about me at that time, I assume you voted for me. To this day what you wrote is, though not terribly gushy by any means, something I'm proud of. I knew a little about NCLB and SINA before I answered your questionnaire, but, like a college kid (though with significantly more electronic means than existed when I was in college) I researched it and I read and read and read. I thank you for that...because it is crucial research to understand the game of chicken it really is with public education. Combined with what I already knew about SINA transfers and the busing provided them at that time, it made the whole picture make more sense than it possibly could to anyone who hasn't. Not to mention the understanding of funding related issues that went along with it.

So, anyway, shhhhhhh, your cynicism is showing...if anything, yes, based one your own recommendation of my candidacy at the time which was very much affected by your having attended a forum, THEY ARE IMPORTANT. But what is even more important, is that the public vote for the people that have the credibility to do what they say they will and hold their "SOLE EMPLOYEE" to standards and expectations of many things INCLUDING ADMINISTRATIVE TRANSPARENCY instead of voting for the people that they think will play nice at the table.

Julie VanDyke said...

As far as the 5 the public did elect, I suggest you send the below link of that clip to the remaining 4 and point out the differences between what they sold themselves as and what they've actually voted to do...IMHO it's like a false advertising complaint.

"Marla Swesey ICCSD"
Sally Hoelscher"
"Jeff McGinness"
"Patti Fields"



Don't bother to email Murley, he never promises anything. Everything is always couched in the plausible deniability of Murleyspeak.