Friday, January 20, 2017


A big thank you to the Save Hoover supporters who attended Tuesday's FMP listening post!  No matter your perspective on school-related issues, it's so important to engage in opportunities to dialogue. While Save Hoover does not take a position on the upcoming GO bond, we do recognize that the prospect of a school closure continues to be a topic of far-reaching public concern.

Following the meeting, I was disappointed to receive an email from the Hoover Advocacy Committee in which the group’s president, Mary Kate Pilcher Hayek, referred to Save Hoover supporters as provincial and an embarrassment to her.  

The email also characterized Save Hoover supporters as attending the listening post in an attempt to sink the bond.  Having actually attended the listening post, I can say participants shared their thoughts about ensuring our district has the capacity to accommodate future growth, supporting schools that are walkable and environmentally friendly, and maintaining a balance between our more established and our newer elementaries.  Real people from across the district raised real concerns. They were there to learn and share, and that is a good thing for the district.

As our community moves forward, it will continue to be important to engage each other respectfully and not resort to name calling or inaccurate characterizations.  Voicing critical questions about a $200 million bond is constructive, not
 sentimental, as Pilcher Hayek characterized Save Hoover supporters in her email.  Save Hoover supporters aren't concerned about convenience; they're concerned about putting forth the best possible plan, one that 60% of the voters must approve in order to pass.

As the Chair of Save Hoover, I want to thank each of you for standing up for what you believe in, for refusing to be bullied or silenced.  Know that we will stand with you, and that we are ready as ever to advocate for Hoover school.

All my best,
Erin Kaufman

Chair, Save Hoover Committee

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


In response to the revelation that Paul Roesler supports closing Hoover earlier than the 2019 date set by the district, his campaign has claimed that it is untrue, stating, “At this point in time, he does not support any substantial deviations from the FMP.”  Rather than let his supporters speak for him, we will let him speak for himself.  The e-mail at the bottom is from last fall and addressed to the school board; it was received through a public records request.  The e-mail above it was sent to his supporters just nine days ago. The recipients' names have been removed for their own privacy.

From: Paul Roesler []
Sent: Sunday, July 10, 2016 1:31 PM
Subject: Re: Question

This is a rather complex story but take the time to listen and it makes sense.

There is a Hoover transition team that consists of parents, teachers and administrators (I am not part of that team) that have been meeting to prepare for the opening of Hoover as well as the use of new Hoover until 2019. My friend Adam Loria, a teacher at Hoover, had mentioned that the transition team had discussed a different idea for transition then what is currently in place.

The current plan has Longfellow going to New Hoover in 2017, then back to Longfellow. 2018 bring Lincoln and Mann to New Hoover so their schools can be renovated and then back to their schools. In 2019 new Hoover would open and old Hoover retired.

A couple of issues come into play in that scenario. In order to do the renovations to Lincoln the district needs to acquire land. If the land can't be acquired the only renovations there that can happen are more of the cosmetic kind which means students might not need to be moved out of the school.

The transition team thought that Old Hoover, due to its design might be better suited to host two schools in one year. The current Hoover building is divided by the gym and library (i think) and Lincoln and Mann could continue to operate as two schools. It would also cut down the distance traveled for those students. In fact some Mann students would be able to still walk to school if desired.

By doing that you would also be able to keep the Longfellow kids that will eventually end up at new Hoover at new Hoover instead of going back to Longfellow and then back to Hoover. Eliminating three moves in three years.

This would move the "retiring" of Hoover up one year as its own school (it would still be used for Lincoln/Mann). Now that we know where students will go after the closing of Hoover you could see that students that would end up at Mann would meet their new classmates at old Hoover in 2018. Old Lucas and Lemme students would move into New Hoover with their Longfellow classmates that are already there thus freeing up space for the remaining Hoover population at Lucas, Lemme and Longfellow.

I see the sense that this plan makes. It has not gained any traction or really been talked about outside some side conversations. I would support this plan or the current plan they both make sense [emphasis added].

Hopefully that answers that question.

Paul Roesler

From: Paul Roesler [] Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2015 8:21 AM To: Board; Stephen  Murley
Subject: 2017 Hoover Suggestion

After the meeting was over last  night_I  talked with a member of the Hoover teaching staff who is also a member of the transition team and the question was brought up from them, why can't we use old Hoover as the transitional space instead of new Hoover? From the conversation s that we had it sounded like this was something that would be made possible with a little work and creative thinking. It also sounded as if members of the current Hoover community were in support of this as well.

There has been an  unfortunate divide within the Hoover school already. You're either on the side of Saving Hoover or you aren't. The longer we drag this out  the more  divide there is, not only at Hoover but in the district as well.

The thought behind this is that we could open new Hoover as the Hoover in 2017. Retire the old Hoover have the closing ceremony etc. at the end of 2016. New Hoover would open with the population of students that would be attending it, most likely from Lucas, Lemme and Longfellow, and current Hoover students would attend their new schools based on the rezoned attendance areas . Longfellow students would go to old Hoover while their school is renovated, once done those students would move back to Longfellow. Hoover would be much closer for Longfellow students, allowing some to continue to walk, some of the old Hoover students would also continue to be able to walk to school.  Old Hoover would then be used for Mann and Lincoln the following year. The old Hoover would be in walking distance for some Mann families eliminating the need for some busing and would be closer for Lincoln families as well. Old Hoover is much better set up to house two schools at once then new Hoover is    . You can basically divide that school in half and operate as two schools which apparently is the preferred plan even if the kids went to New Hoover. New Hoover's design and layout would make this more challenging.

Closing the school in 2017 allows us to move forward. If we are concerned that a school closing is going to be a reason the bond is passed or not, why not have that school closed so that it isn't an issue in the 2017 vote [emphasis added].  If  I  understand the board members correctly none of you want the bond to fail, so why not come together and look at how we can work to get the support that is needed? If old Hoover is kept open and renovations were done there we would also have to ask for more money on the bond to accomplish that. Chris Liebig mentioned last night that the only thing you would have to add to Hoover is the multipurpose room. I   disagree, you would also have to make the school ADA compliant. There is also a need for more storage and hallway space, student instruments, bags and coats in the hallway due to lack of space is unfortunate. That is just a couple  of things that come to mind off the top of  my head.

Please look into the suggestion, but if  you are going to consider this decisions  will have to move a lot more quickly.

Thank you

Paul Roesler

Sunday, July 17, 2016


Our letter to the editor of the Press-Citizen is below.

To the Editor: 

To prepare for the July 19 ICCSD school board special election, the Save Hoover Committee asked board candidates: If you are elected, will you support amending the long-term facilities plan to keep Hoover Elementary School open? Two contrasting responses stood out. 

Recognizing that the Hoover closure does not align with widely held community values, J.P. Claussen favors amending the long-term facilities plan to keep Hoover open. Claussen believes that the priorities of the ICCSD should align with the priorities of the community, and he encourages the district to listen to more voices as it moves forward with facilities planning. Claussen wants to build district-wide community and trust.  

Paul Roesler supports closing Hoover, citing his commitment to the facilities plan. However, Roesler has advocated that Hoover close two years earlier than planned—next spring—despite the complexities of closing a school and despite the 2019 target date the facilities plan lays out.  Roesler has written: If we are concerned that a school closing is going to be a reason the bond is passed or not, why not have that school closed so that it isn’t an issue in the 2017 vote? Roesler has now stated he would support a 2018 closure. His commitment to the plan’s timeline, unlike his commitment to closing Hoover, seems unclear.

While Hoover is just one of many important issues, responses to the Hoover question may still shed light on candidates' broader approaches to community input, bridge-building, and trust. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016


School Board member Phil Hemingway writes in the Press-Citizen about the importance of neighborhood schools, such as Hoover, to our district.  You can read his article here.

Save Hoover has endorsed JP Claussen for Tuesday's election.  Claussen supports keeping Hoover Elementary and all our neighborhood schools open.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


At Wednesday evening's school board election forum hosted by the Press-Citizen, JP Claussen confirmed his belief that Hoover Elementary should remain open.  According to the Press-Citizen, Claussen would "especially like the board to reconsider the decision to close Hoover Elementary."

His opponents, Paul Roesler and Janice Weiner, favor closing our school.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


On, Maria Conzemius gives her impressions of ICCSD JP Claussen, who supports keeping Hoover Elementary open:

J.P. Claussen, one of three school board candidates competing in a special election for an Iowa City Community School District board seat vacated by Tom Yates, who resigned in May 2016, is open as in what you see is what you get. He reminds me of Iowa City Community School District board member Phil Hemingway. J.P. and Phil have very different credentials, but they’re both open about what they believe in and what they don’t believe in. I always find honest, open candidates refreshing.
J.P. has a master’s degree in special education. He is an expert at intervening with behavior-disordered kids, so much so that after 10 years of teaching behavior-disordered kids at West High, he is now employed at the Circle School at the child and adolescent in-patient psychiatry units at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
J.P. doesn’t believe in over-testing students. He likes Ted Robinson’s TED Talks and Linda Darling Hammond at Stanford University. 
"Both do only one standardized test," J.P. said.
Supt. Murley’s failure to meet the Iowa Department of Education’s standards for special education concerns J.P. He thinks that such a serious deficiency should be a part of Supt. Murley’s evaluation, which is on-going.
The Iowa Department of Education documented a “culture of retaliation” in the Iowa City Community School District that Supt. Murley blamed on building-level staff, not on himself. But who fired Stephanie Van Housen, the liaison for homeless students and a whistleblower for special education students who weren’t being treated properly? It was Supt. Murley, not “building-level staff.”
Tom Yates added, “It’s in the superintendent's directions that retaliation is not okay.
“’I don’t want to say something that would get me in trouble at my school’ is heard a lot at [Iowa City Community School District] schools,” Tom continued.
J.P. feels that the administration continues to maintain secrecy and obstructionism to an extent that is not just counter-productive but destructive to the school district. 
It was amazing how many people asked me not to publish photos of them at the house party for Claussen supporters. They didn’t want their attendance to offend friends and possibly, though they didn’t say so, employers. Yet they were enthusiastic participants!
Is this the culture of fear we want in our town?
J.P. said he’s been "besieged by people who are frightened by fear-mongering on the Paul Roesler side." Roesler supporters, according to J.P., have said things like, “If you elect J.P., you won’t get your air conditioning (AC),” or whatever it is that people want and are afraid of not getting.
Yet J.P. supports the school bond. He supports making buildings more comfortable for its occupants. 
Further, J.P. said about Murley, “I don’t want him on his cell phone at important meetings. I don’t want him going across the country to fancy consultant meetings instead of doing his job in the district.”
If Supt. Murley were doing his job, the Iowa Department of Education wouldn't end their report on the school district's special education program with this final sentence:
"As a result of the pervasive and substantive nature of the findings, the district will be required to complete numerous individual and system corrective actions with ongoing direction from an external implementation advisor."
Earlier in the IDEA report, the Department of Education stated, "Letters from the district to both Grant Wood [Area Education Agency] AEA and the Iowa Department of Education suggest that the district does not understand that the AEA has general supervision responsibility in the area of special education."
How could Supt. Murley not know that, ignore Grant Wood's findings, and therefore kick the investigation upstairs to the state level?
Claussen is unimpressed with Murley's performance. He is also against closing Hoover Elementary School to add land to City High, land that would most likely be used for an additional parking lot or athletic field.
The Save Hoover Committee recommends that Hoover supporters vote for J.P. Claussen.

[Ed. note: Claussen stated that Finland uses only one standardized test, not Robinson and Hammond.]


Karen Nichols eloquently writes about why JP Claussen is ideally suited for the ICCSD School Board:

This school board election is a difficult one, and emotions are running high. I’m going to err on the side of optimism and assume that we all want what’s best for our kids (they ALL are OUR kids). What that looks like can sometimes be hard to discern. Most of us want integrated schools, AND we don’t want to put the lion’s share of the burden of desegregation on our most vulnerable students and families. We want neighborhood schools, AND we want them to be socioeconomically balanced, with reasonable class sizes, in world-class facilities, with top-notch teachers, AND all at a budget we can afford. We all want to move forward, AND, we want to get this right.Unfortunately, there are no good, much less perfect, solutions to some of the problems we face. We have intelligent, good-hearted, capable candidates with a variety of ideas on how to get where we want to go. How do we choose?The person I hope to see in the now-vacant school board seat is JP Claussen, and my reasoning boils down to trust. I’ve know JP for several years, and I trust him to:

  • Put students first. With a decade of experience as a teacher in the ICCSD, JP has a heart for students and will always make their needs the #1 priority, even when that isn’t easy. 

  • Be knowledgeable. JP has an MA in special education from the UI, with expertise in behavior and social/emotional development. He is well-informed, with a nuanced understanding of the issues and the research behind them. He will do his homework and look for sound, holistic solutions rather than band-aid fixes.

  • Err on the side of justice. JP been committed to working for social justice his entire career, and he has a deep understanding of how issues of race and socioeconomics (not the same thing) intersect with education. He will always make sure the marginalized have a voice at the table. 

  • Show visionary leadership. JP believes in educating the whole child in creative schools that prepare them for the uncertainties of the 21st century — an education that is more individualized than standardized. He knows our kids are much, much more than a test score. 

  • Work well with others. As former president and chief negotiator for the ICEA, JP has experience in working with people with whom he disagrees. He is a natural communicator and peacemaker who looks for win-win solutions. He is calm, patient, reasonable, respectful, and exceedingly kind. 

  • Listen and learn. JP is open-minded, fair, and flexible, willing to hear and learn from others and adjust his views as new information comes to light. 

  • Be fiercely honest and independent. With JP, what you see is what you get. The guy has integrity. There are and will be no nefarious motives or backroom deals. He is no one’s “pawn.”

Bottom line: I respect this guy and am confident he will be an excellent board member for the next three years, not just the first couple of controversial votes. To learn more about his positions on the issues, visit

I hope you will join me in voting for JP on or before July 19.