Iowa Legislators present at the Jan. 26 School Board In-Service at the MJM Community Center are, from left, front row: Heather Hora, House District 92; John Dunwell, House District 38; Helena Hayes, House District 88. Back row: Thomas Gerhold, House District 84; Dean Fisher, House District 53; Dawn Driscoll, Senate District 46 and Brad Sherman, House District 91.
Superintendents and school boards from 14 central and east central Iowa school districts, along with legislators representing those districts, were invited to an in-service in Brooklyn on Jan. 26.
Legislators present included: Thomas Gerhold, House District 84; Dean Fisher, House District 53; Heather Hora, House District 92; John Dunwell, House District 38; Helena Hayes, House District 88; Brad Sherman, House District 91 and Dawn Driscoll, Senate District 46. Also present was Shawn Snyder and Michelle Johnson with the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB).
The majority of the agenda was a legislative forum, which allowed district leadership and legislators to talk openly about bills and the impact or potential impact of those bills to public schools.
The forum began with a long discussion about the school choice bill that was passed by both the House and Senate earlier that week, along with being signed by the governor. House File 68 provides for education savings accounts for students to attend private school. Since this had already been signed into law, the majority of the discussion time was spent with the legislators sharing specifics about it and fielding concerns/questions from the room of board/district leadership.
There were some passionate exchanges between the groups, with board members and superintendents sharing ongoing funding concerns and asking for greater accountability for private schools as they would now have students being supported with public dollars, while the legislators shared the elements of flexibility that they felt the bill afforded districts.
Dwelling on something that the governor had already signed was not going to be productive time, so the moderator decided to shift the conversation to other issues on the minds of school districts.
Some of the issues discussed were the following:
Rep. Heather Hora, House District 92, said we need to promote the good that schools are doing.
“We need to flood the media with good stories,” said Rep. Hora.
Rep. Helen Hayes, House District 88, said building trust with good communication is important. “It’s all about building trust between teachers and parents.”
“We are doing the best we can with the information that is sent to us,” said Sen. Dawn Driscoll, Senate District 46. “There is a lot of misinformation out there. Maybe we should try to listen and do the best for the students.”
“Overall it was a very good meeting,” said Jason Meyer, vice president of the Montezuma School Board. “We had lots of discussion with the different representatives and for me personally, I like hearing the points of views from the representatives and school personnel.”
The evening concluded with those in attendance supporting the continuation of this event and encouraging more events like it to occur, so that districts feel that they have a voice in matters that impact teaching and learning.
The Brooklyn Ruritans served the meal at the event.
Editor’s Note: Montezuma Superintendent Rich Schulte contributed to this article.
Montezuma School Board members, Stacy Cameron and Jason Meyer visit with Rep. Dean Fisher, House District 53, following the School Board In-Service at the MJM Community Center on Thursday, Jan. 26.
Rep. Thomas Gerhold, House District 84, visits with Alicia Jacobi, a member of the Belle Plaine School Board, at the close of the meeting. The meeting gave school officials and board members an opportunity to connect and discuss issues of importance with area legislators.
Curt Rheingans, superintendent at Iowa Valley and English Valleys school districts, visits with Rep. Helena Hayes, House District 88, at the close of the School Board In-Service held at the Michael J. Manatt’s Community Center on Thursday, Jan. 26.
Montezuma Superintendent Rich Schulte visits with Sen. Dawn Driscoll, Senate District 46, at the close of the School Board In-Service held at the MJM Community Center on Thursday, Jan. 26. The meeting gave school officials and board members an opportunity to connect and discuss issues of importance with area legislators.