Former teacher Tom Yates says that he hopes to channel his passion for education into a role on the Iowa City Community School Board.
Yates, 61, is among 10 candidates seeking four seats on the board in the Sept. 8 election, while three other candidates seek a two-year seat vacated when Tuyet Baruah resigned.
The retired City High English teacher said he remains invested in the Iowa City Community School District despite his retirement.
“I just can’t quit caring about education in Iowa City,” he said.
Yates, a teacher of 31 years, said his experience teaching differentiates him from other candidates and helps him understand curriculum development and implementation. He said as a former Iowa City Education Association president, he also learned about education in elementary schools.
Yates said he wants to examine types of testing the district uses and “get rid of anything that we don’t need.” He said the district may place too much focus on test-related data, and that reducing testing may save dollars.
Tom Yates’ 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: I do. I still don't see why the old Hoover has to close before a new one can be built; I wish to see air-conditioning made a timeline priority for older buildings; and no one seems to be able to answer the question of the City High-Hoover space use.
Q: When are boundary changes necessary, and is preserving neighborhood schools a high priority for you?
A: Boundary changes are necessary when a new school is built in a developing neighborhood, or there are population shifts geographically. That said, I am a believer in keeping neighborhood schools open as long as possible. The district should have a mandate to examine attendance zones every three years.
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: It is most appropriate to make budget cuts when the district is wasting money on a large number of small things that add up to millions per month. The accounts payable portion of the consent agenda at every board meeting contains questionable items. Thirty-thousand dollars here and there for, say, a consultant, adds up.
Q: How would you promote equity in the district?
A: Equity is providing resources to schools so that every school has what it needs to do the best job it can. It's not always the case that every school get what every other school has.
Reach Holly Hines at hhines2@press- citizen.com or at 319-887-5414 and follow her on Twitter at @HollyJHines.
•City where you live: Iowa City.
•Occupation: Retired language arts teacher.
•Family: Two children, graduates of West High.
•Attendance area where you live: Hoover Elementary, South East Junior High, City High.