Three-time candidate Phil Hemingway is seeking a seat on the Iowa City Community School Board.
He is among 10 candidates vying for one of four full-term seats in the Sept. 8 election, while three other candidates are seeking a two-year seat vacated when Tuyet Baruah resigned.
Hemingway, an auto mechanic and owner of a repair shop, also ran for board seats in 2011 and 2013, falling about 100 votes short of winning one of three open seats in 2013. He said he ran again because concerns persist in areas he would focus on, which include accountability, transparency, fiscal responsibility and providing education related to technical fields.
Hemingway said he wants the district to increase transparency and accountability when it comes to issues such as the use of herbicides on school grounds. He said sometimes the board must stand up and tell district administrators to make changes, and that the board failed to do this during its discussion of chemical sprays.
“It has everything to do with student health and safety,” he said.
Hemingway said he is unique among candidates because he attends nearly every School Board meeting and oversees the board’s spending, and that the board “isn’t a passing fancy” for him.
- Age: 55
- City where you live: Iowa City
- Occupation: Small business owner and auto mechanic
- Family: Wife, Anita; daughter, Monica
- Attendance area where you live: Hoover, Southeast, City High
Phil Hemingway’s answers to questions about key issues facing the district:
Q: Do you support changing the facilities master plan before the district’s planned bond referendum in 2017?
A: First, the district must live up to the promises made in the RPS in order to instill trust and confidence in the district. I support changes to the facilities master plan. This is necessary for the successful passage of the bond referendum in 2017.
Q: When are boundary changes necessary, and is preserving neighborhood schools a high priority for you?
A: Boundary changes are necessary when we have overcrowding and when we need to utilize our facilities better. Yes, absolutely yes, I am not in favor of destroying vibrant old neighborhoods to create new ones in cornfields.
Q: At a time when educators are concerned about state funding, when is it appropriate for the district to make budget cuts and from which areas should the district cut first?
A: The district needs to make cuts when we don’t meet our budgetary requirements. In these financially challenging times, we must exercise fiduciary responsibility by holding our administrators accountable when they choose to cut courses, teachers, music and sports instead of the fat (no-bid contracts with vendors, duplication of services and contractor mistakes, etc.). Over the last 6 years I have provided alternatives to administration and board members where savings can be made that don’t affect classroom funding and support maintaining our highly trained staff in providing opportunities for our students.
Q: How would you promote equity in the district?
A: I’ve always advocated for recruitment and retention of a diverse staff that is inspiring and inspired. We must also provide curriculum that provides opportunities for all our students whether college bound or a more career or technical path.