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One-stop Shopping for the 2015 ICCSD School Board Election

Chris Liebig won’t be doing his usual one-stop shopping school board election post at A Blog About School this year, so I’m stepping in and putting one together here.

I will be using this post as a collection point for information about the 2015 ICCSD school board election scheduled for September 8th. I will continue to add information here as it becomes available. If you see that I have missed something, as surely I will, please suggest additional links in the comments, by e-mail, or by Twitter.




Ten Eight candidates are competing for four open four-year seats; no incumbents are running for re-election. In a separate race, three candidates are competing for one two-year seat, which became vacant upon Tuyet Baruah’s submission of her resignation last week.

Sample ballots are now available here.  Ballots may vary within ICCSD depending upon which Kirkwood director district you reside in. Be sure to also confirm your school polling place here.

The voter pre-registration deadline is Friday, August 28th at 5 pm. Voters will need to use the election day registration procedure to register to vote after this deadline.

Your school polling place is likely to be different than your regular polling place. Find your school polling place here. Please note that a few ICCSD school precincts have new locations for 2015. Polls will be open from 7 am to 8 pm on Tuesday, September 8th.

Early voting begins Thursday, August 13th will commence as soon as ballots can be prepared after August 4th (deadline for candidates to withdraw).  Mailed absentee ballots can be requested at any time from now until Friday, September 4th at 5 pm. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by Saturday, September 5th (remember that Monday, September 7th is Labor Day), but can be returned in person to the Johnson County Auditor’s Office until polls close on election day, Tuesday, September 8th, at 8 pm. Once early voting begins, you can also vote early in person, on weekdays between 7:45 am and 5:30 pm, at the Johnson County Auditor’s Office, 913 South Dubuque Street, Iowa City. Due to Labor Day, the last day to vote in person at the Auditor’s Office will be Friday, September 4th.

The Johnson County Auditor’s Office will have a satellite site for school election voting at UIHC, Fountain Lobby, on Thursday, September 3rd from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.


  • Save Hoover question and candidate responses herehere and here or all three compiled into a single post here
  • North Corridor Parents candidate interviews here, Tom Yates (inadvertently omitted) here


  • Hani Elkadi, producer and host of Education Exchange, will be interviewing candidates Wednesday, August 19th at PATV studios. Live streaming will be available at the PATV website or the Board of Education 2015 Candidates Facebook page. The taped programs will air at various times on Education Channel 21 and PATV Channel 18 and be posted on YouTube and the PATV website.
    • 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm with panelists Todd Fanning, Jason Lewis, Brian Richman, Lori Roetlin, and Brianna Wills

  • 5:15 pm to 6:15 pm with panelists LaTasha DeLoach, Shawn Eyestone, Phil Hemingway, Lucas Van Orden, and Tom Yates

  • 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm with panelists Chris Liebig, Paul Roesler, and Megan Schwalm

  • DPO sponsored Candidate Meet and Greet; Saturday, August 22nd, 10:00 am to noon at the ESC, 1725 N. Dodge Street
  • North Liberty Building Community Group sponsored Candidate Meet and Greet; Saturday, August 29th, 10:00 am to noon at the North Liberty Community Center, 520 W. Cherry Street, Gerdin Conference Center Room 2 (lower level)
  • Iowa City Education Association/Press-Citizen ICCSD Board Candidate Forum; Monday, August 31st, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Coralville Public Library, Schwab Auditorium
  • ICCSD Board Candidate Forum: Beyond iPads and IPM: Sustainability and STEM in our schools; Tuesday, September 1st, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm at the Coralville Public Library, Schwab Auditorium [Added: This is a discussion forum hosted by Ecopolis, Backyard Abundance, and Field to Family. School board candidates will be asked to comment on information shared.]
  • Special Education Forum; Thursday, September 3rd, 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A
  • KXIC School Board Candidate Interviews: scheduled for different dates and times between Tuesday, August 18th and Thursday, September 3rd. Find podcasts of the interviews here.


[Note: Edited 8/26 to move candidate guest opinions and profiles to Candidate Statements and Profiles section below.]


Articles and posts substantively discussing the school board elections. See Candidate Statements and Profiles for articles about individual candidates announcing campaigns, candidate profiles, and candidate statements.


Candidates for the four-year seats

Candidates for the two-year seat


Contact information for all thirteen candidates is now available at the JC Auditor’s website here.


Candidates for the four-year seats

Candidates for the two-year seat


ICCSD Facilities Master Planning

2013 regular school election: Winning candidates received at least 3,041 votes; 11.86% voter turnout.

2011 regular school election: Winning candidates (four-year seats) received at least 1,910 votes, winning candidate (two-year seat) received 3,165 votes; 5.96% voter turnout.

2013 special election: Revenue Purpose Statement passed with 56% of the votes (3,405 yes votes); 8.09% voter turnout.


“Our children are worth it.”

Mary Ellen Miller, member of the Iowa State Board of Education, keeps defending the decision to move forward with adopting the Smarter Balanced assessments by saying, “Our children are worth it.

I have not heard a single critic of the Smarter Balanced assessments in Iowa say that our children aren’t worth it. The issue isn’t the inherent worth of Iowa’s school children, the issue is whether the Smarter Balanced assessments are worth it, whatever “it” is. And “it” is whatever districts will need to cut from their budgets to pay for the additional costs of the Smarter Balanced assessments.

Heads up, ICCSD school board candidates. Here’s what Chief Academic Officer Becky Furlong had to say about how adoption of the Smarter Balanced assessments could affect the district:

However, she said the Smarter Balanced tests could have a major impact on ICCSD.

Furlong said the new exams cost more than the current Iowa Assessments, and that the district might struggle with a lack of bandwidth to administer them. She said students who aren’t familiar with online tests also might be at a disadvantage.

“There are some legitimate concerns,” she said.

Furlong said she hopes the Department of Education will provide adequate time, funding and professional development to districts to successfully implement the new tests.

Of course, the DE doesn’t appropriate money for schools, that’s up to the Iowa Legislature. And while Miller may be of the opinion that it would be “easy” for the Legislature to find the money, the 2015 legislative session suggests otherwise.

So the State Board of Education Met . . .

. . . and I took a stab at live-tweeting it. I had fun, but I’m now convinced that live-tweeting is at least a two person job as it was hard–for me anyway–to try to take extensive notes plus compose tweets plus keep up with my Twitter feed.

In case you missed the live-tweeting, I’ve put together a Storify version of it here.

For future reference, I see that the DE was using the hashtag #iastatebd yesterday on Twitter.

It’s old news at this point, but the Iowa State Board of Education, by unanimous vote, adopted the Next Generation Science Standards as presented in the Science Standards Review Team Report. See news coverage herehere, and here. The State Board also, by unanimous vote, directed the DE to draft rules implementing the Assessment Task Force’s recommendation number one (adopt the Smarter Balanced Assessments) for the 2016-17 school year and to reconvene the Assessment Task Force to review science assessments. See news coverage here and here.

On the drive home, a few things struck me about the State Board discussion around assessment.

First, that individual state board members publicly acknowledged that the costs of the Smarter Balanced assessments for districts would be more (not the same or less). Of course, that didn’t stop them from voting to move forward with adopting the assessments, as at least two of the board members opined that it would be easy for either districts or the Legislature to find the money. Miller suggested that people write or talk to legislators.

Perhaps you have just slapped your forehead and thought–as I did–“I wish I had thought of talking or writing to legislators about the need for more school funding! I’ll have to give that a try. No doubt it will be very effective, when we finally do it.”

Or maybe you were just wondering if state board members follow the news or any social media accounts. At all.

Second, it occurred to me that the state board members did not raise the issue of technology readiness for statewide online assessment as part of the discussion yesterday, nor did they discuss the experiences other states had administering the Smarter Balanced assessments this spring. Based on a non-discussion, it is hard to know if they aren’t following national news or are otherwise unaware of these issues, or if they feel that these issues have been adequately covered in other meetings or, perhaps, by the Assessment Task Force.

Which brings me to a third thought, as I considered this Barry Garelick tweet (referencing science standards adoption) again this afternoon:

And that thought, or question, really, is whether the use of task forces and review teams, whatever their merits might be (and I do think they may have some), removes too much of the deliberative process from the public eye.

I didn’t stick around for the agenda item on a public school choir singing religious songs, but interested readers can find coverage of State Board action on that item here and here.

Thoughts on the actions taken by the state board? Or on the processes in place for making decisions about public education on behalf of the citizens of Iowa? Are the decisions being made good ones, sufficiently transparent, and being made by the right people?

Future of Iowa Ed Funding?

If the 2015 legislative session wasn’t enough evidence, consider the belief that teacher leadership money would supplement, not supplant, adequate supplemental state aid officially dispelled, as Radio Iowa reports from the Governor’s weekly news conference that Branstad favors more ‘specific, strategic’ earmarks in education spending.

Governor Terry Branstad says he’d like to earmark more state funding for schools rather than give districts a lump sum to spend as local officials see fit.

“Instead of the old way that we used to do things, we gave all this across-the-board money with no accountability and Iowa kind of stagnated while other states put focus on things that increased their standards and improved their student achievement,” Branstad says.

Fortunately, the Governor (or some policy person in Des Moines) knows just the right things to spend education funding on to improve student achievement, unlike local education professionals.

“We want to become best in America again and I think that’s going to take specific and strategic investments in education that focus on things that really make a difference,” Branstad says.

Branstad cites the $10 million he had suggested for programs to help minority students do better in school. Legislators did not earmark the money for that initiative. Branstad says it’s time for state policymakers “to move forward” and work together on “proven” programs, like the focus on science, technology, engineering and math courses.

If you are among those who wrote or called legislators to urge them to support a special session to override the Governor’s veto of one-time education funding, you may want to add earmarks (categorical funding) versus supplemental state aid to your list of things to talk to legislators about.

You may also want to save the date Saturday, January, 16, 2016:

Read more about Patrick Kearney’s organizing efforts at An Action Plan for Advocacy.

DE and State Board Links

The State Board of Education is scheduled to meet next week, Thursday, August 6th. The agenda items include the minutes of the June meeting (see the assessment discussion notes beginning here) and a recommendation to take action on the assessment recommendations of the Iowa Assessment Task Force. The exact nature of the recommended action for this particular meeting is unclear, as there currently is no further explanation, and no attachments or notices of intended action.

The Legislative Services Agency released an audit report on the DE today.

Two former directors of the Iowa DE were featured in an EdWeek article on state chiefs leaving to work as school district superintendents, Old Hands, New Hurdles: State Chiefs Who Take Local Reins. Readers may be interested in Jason Glass’s description of how his views shifted during his time in Iowa or Brad Buck’s reasons for leaving the DE, including these comments:

Iowa’s decision to decommit from giving the Smarter Balanced exam aligned to the common core, as well as Gov. Terry Branstad’s shifting public pronouncements on the common core itself, bothered Mr. Buck.

What Happened to My Summer?

Despite Governor Branstad’s best efforts (on behalf of the State Fair), the first days of school are just a few short weeks away and I can’t help wondering what happened to my summer.

Maybe summer would have seemed longer if the legislative session hadn’t dragged into June. Or if Governor Branstad hadn’t waited until just before the July 4th holiday weekend to veto one-time education funding.

In any case, the filing deadline for running for school board is just two days away (and then campaigning should begin in earnest) and the State Board of Education will be holding it’s August meeting next week (at which, I expect, they will have a notice of intended action on rules that would adopt the Smarter Balanced Assessments as the statewide assessment).

And, as watch the tweets out of ISEA’s Summer Leadership Conference [#IASLC2015], I find myself wondering if it is too early to feel discouraged about the upcoming school year.

Even as legislators have still not pulled together enough votes for a special session to try to override Governor Branstad’s education funding veto, the Summer Leadership Conference is providing a platform for the teacher leadership system (which is where the supplemental state aid funding went) and the Smarter Balanced Assessments (which, if adopted, will divert time, money, and technology resources from instruction).

As an aside, I find this slide a bit depressing:

Setting aside the use of quotation marks and the implication that other teachers aren’t content experts, I find it disheartening that instructional coaches are described as “promoting district mandates”, rather than, for example, supporting classroom teachers.

The conference also provided a platform for new DE Director Ryan Wise. Speaking of disheartening, here are Director Wise’s priorities:

Conspicuously missing in those bullet points? Adequate supplemental state aid to pay for regular classroom instruction programs, summer reading programs and other interventions, and the new statewide assessments.

[Incidentally, I’ve added a link in the sidebar under Iowa Government to the Attendance Center Rankings site.]

Advocating for adequate funding didn’t make the “Role of the Department” shortlist:

And adequate education funding didn’t make the “Other Key Issues” shortlist either:


Readers, please help me out today. If you’re excited about the upcoming school year, please leave a comment sharing what you’re excited about.