"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything" - George Bernard Shaw
My Response to the Save Hoover PAC questionnaire 6/22/16
The Save Hoover group has sent out their questionnaire to the candidates. The question they are asking is, "If elected, will you support amending the long term facilities plan to keep Hoover Elementary School Open?" The following is my response to their question.
In 2013 the School Board voted to pass the 10 Year Facility Master Plan, a plan derived from hundreds of hours of expert involvement and community input. It was the first time that I can recall the district laying out a road map to follow in order to improve its infrastructure. Prior to the FMP, the district was primarily building new schools reactively. We were neglecting existing schools’ need for basic improvements such as ADA compliance, classrooms additions, and air
The FMP requires schools across the district to make sacrifices and compromises for the betterment of the district as a whole. Hoover is no exception as it is the only school that will close. Why is Hoover singled out? Not for one reason but, rather, the aggregate of several compelling reasons. First, Hoover is the only elementary school within one mile of three other elementary schools (and 1.5 miles of a fourth elementary school). Longfellow, Lucas and Mann (with the passage of the GO Bond) will all have been completely renovated and updated by the time the Hoover students go there. Lemme will have a sizeable new addition completed not long after. These renovations and additions are much needed and a long time coming. Both Twain and Penn have completed renovations and you can see how the community has been
reinvigorated as if they had a new school.
Second, Hoover shares a campus with City High, which has a significantly smaller footprint than West and Liberty high schools. As a board member, I will make sure that the land Hoover gives to City High will be used thoughtfully and will benefit Hoover students as they age into high school. Finally, while Hoover students and teachers are vibrant, the building is not. Projections to keep Hoover open fail to consider the costs of the improvements Hoover needs including a
multi-purpose room. Additionally, more than one in four of the Hoover community do not reside anywhere near the building.
I am moved by the Hoover community’s loyalty to its school. I hope the same loyalty is shown to the district, including current Hoover students, who will benefit from the progression of the FMP. In the end, Hoover Students will have the same opportunities to attend a neighborhood school; it will only require going to a different building. And City High will be stronger as a result.
I commend the Hoover community for advocating for the future of Hoover students and teachers. As a school board member, I will reinforce this advocacy by holding the administration to its promise to offer Hoover teachers employment at the new Hoover and assist them in finding teaching positions elsewhere if so desired. I will also continue to advocate for
Hoover students to make sure families know where their students will go to school and how that transition will be made when Hoover is retired.
Finally, the FMP is not intended to be written in stone. As a community member I have stayed abreast of all the changes (demographic, funding, etc.) that impact our district. As a board member, I will be committed to making sure the FMP reflects significant changes where necessary. For now, unless there are major changes in the school funding formula at the state level, or a large influx of students into the immediate Hoover geography, it is neither fiscally responsible nor possible for old Hoover to be maintained and operated.
I've heard the kids, now we need to act 6/9/16
If you have been at the last few board meetings, watched them on tv or online you would have seen several students stand up at the mic and talk about their desire for teachers and staff to undergo unconscious bias training. As each one of these kids speak about their experiences inside the classroom, it is hard for those of us not in the classrooms everyday to not feel for them.
It shouldn't stop there though, we should be asking how can we help. I believe that the members of the school board should also go through this training and set up a time to talk with the kids that have been speaking. In order to make decisions about the classroom experience the board members need to be willing to learn about what is going on in the schools. Being on the outside of the school looking in offers a unique perspective in these matters, if you are a teacher or were a teacher you might be who these students are talking about and not realize it yet.
I have made it pretty clear that I am not in favor of a segregated school district. If we continue on the path that we are on we will have created a district that is segregated. That only adds to the problem that these students are talking about. As I've stated before I believe that our schools should reflect the real world and sometimes that world is different then what we see everyday in our own neighborhood. Students that feel supported, students that have peers that they can relate to and students who can learn from students that aren't like them can only be a good thing.
As a parent you try to raise your child "the right way" as we say. Sometimes though we aren't as good at that as we think when it comes to certain things in life. Kids can be easily influenced by the actions of their parents, peers and people they respect. I think kids of all races and backgrounds will learn a lot more about each other if they are in schools that have balance. Schools where they are accepted and treated equally regardless of their race, social background or sexual orientation. As the kids grow together in the schools maybe we can have less students feel the way that some of the kids at the mic have felt.
Schools Should Reflect the Real World 6/8/16
On May 10th of this year I sat at a board meeting where a decision was made to overturn secondary boundaries, I left the meeting feeling frustrated. I was frustrated how easily the work of the board and the community the last couple of years was undone with a series of motions and votes. Each side of the argument has valid arguments but when it comes down to it I am a firm believer in diversity. I believe that our schools should reflect the real world and the benefit of diverse schools outweighs the financial cost associated with making that happen.
Diversity benefits all kids regardless of race or social class.
Press Citizen Guest Opinion 5/19/16 - Shawn Eyestone, Brianna Wills, Paul Roesler
As the end of the school year nears, it is a great chance for us to not only look back but more importantly forward and to what’s next for the Iowa City Community School District.
Three years ago, the ICCSD Board of Directors passed the 10-year facility master plan that laid out 10 years of improvements to current schools as well as the addition of new schools into the district. By the time the plan is carried out, all of the schools in the ICCSD will be air conditioned and improved in one way or another.
The beauty of this strategic plan is that even before the initial 10 years have passed we can continually add future projects and extend the timeline so we always have a long-term vision of what needs to be done. The downfall of the plan is that, unless we as a united community pass a general obligation bond, we will run out of money to complete the plan in 2017, the same year as the bond vote.
You can already see the great results of this plan across the district. Alexander Elementary is a beautiful new school on the south side of Iowa City, and we have already broken ground on another in Hoover. Renovations at both Mark Twain and Penn have reinvigorated the communities they serve. Coralville Central is being completed now and will have the same effect in Coralville. Lucas and Weber will begin their transformations this summer. Liberty High School is being built and should be finished on time and within budget.
It's a great beginning to a strategic plan that we as a community need to be sure we help to complete.
In 1968, we made the mistake of opening West High unfinished. The school didn’t have an auditorium. “Home” football games were played at City High for 30 years.
Liberty will face the same challenge without the passage of the bond. The future of all of the outdoor athletic facilities and final building addition to house the growing student population is bond-dependent.
Let’s not make the same mistake twice when the opportunity is placed before us. Instead of taking 30 years to finish a high school, we can do it in two.
As candidates for the vacant school board seats in the last election, we weren’t alone in supporting the master plan as well as the bond that will be needed. Every one of the 13 candidates we campaigned with shared that support.
With the election behind us, the current board is now at a crucial crossroads. Members face tough decisions involving school boundaries, class size discussions and rebuilding the community’s trust.
As former candidates and active members in school district matters, we constantly are hearing from people, "I just wish the board would make a decision," or "I wish they would make a decision and stick to it," and "Make a decision so we can plan ahead."
We are asking that the board make those decisions based on what’s best for the entire district. If down the road you have to tweak the plans due to changing enrollment, school locations, etc., that’s OK. The public just wants to know where their kids are going to be attending school so they can plan accordingly.
With some boundary decisions made and even more critical decisions to come, it allows us time to plan for a successful bond vote. If the board waits until after the 2017 school board election to make boundary decisions, as some members have suggested, it will be harder to convince the community to come together to pass a bond. Eliminating the fear of the unknown is something that we, as a community, are asking the board to do.
The facility master plan is a win for every corner of the ICCSD. As we continue to improve schools, the conditions for learning will soon match the excellence of our learners.
The board can lay the future out in front of us before the next election. It is then our turn as a community to step up and fund the future for our generation and the ones to come after us.
Brianna Wills of Iowa City, Shawn Eyestone of North Liberty and Paul Roesler of Iowa City are former candidates for Iowa City Community School District School Board of Directors.
Cedar Rapids Gazette Guest Column 8/23/15 - Paul Roesler
Moving to Iowa City as a five-year-old may have been the best thing to ever happen to me. Not only was I able to establish roots, but also grow alongside my wife within careers we love and relationships we cherish. I have flourished at Scheels, and my wife has helped fortify our future via her teaching in the ICCSD. Thirty-four years after my first hello, I would find it difficult to say goodbye to a place that has given our two daughters a world-class education. Now, I am asking this entire community for something other than a home. I am asking it for an opportunity.
I am not seeking service because I want to represent a particular zip code. My home address indicates where my mail should be delivered, but it does not define my purpose, my positions or my participation in this election. As a high school student, I enjoyed the City-West rivalry. It motivated us to cheer louder, try harder, and reach higher. As a candidate for an educational board that makes decisions on behalf of every single child in the district, the City-West rivalry is irrelevant. The only competition I am interested in involves teaming together to break through barriers which are much more serious than a river running through a city.
People who know me recognize that although my children attend school on the east side, my devotion stretches much further. I have attended nearly every board and committee meeting for the past two years, and I have heard passionate voices speak about important issues. When that intensity is harvested, it can either deliver creative, informed decisions that help move us forward on one path, or it can separate us into different directions that lead to nothing but frustration.
You are not only choosing a school board. You are also selecting the type of growth in which you believe. If you want to cultivate progress in only your own backyard, I am not your candidate. If you want to see learning blossom in Coralville, Hills, North Liberty and every corner of Iowa City, then consider a vote for Paul Roesler.