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School board members talk intentions for upcoming election

A new state law which combines city and school elections takes effect this year, meaning Marshalltown Community School District voters can expect to vote in November, not September, for who should help run the district.

There are four seats up on the Marshalltown board in 2019, and they are currently occupied by board Vice President Janelle Carter and members Ben Fletcher, Niko Aguirre and Sean Heitmann. They are part of a seven-person school board which makes decisions ranging from tax rates to school budgets to student curricula.

“I will make a decision sometime soon, but as of now I have not decided,” Carter said of running again this fall.

She was last on the ballot in 2015 and said the board has done a lot of good work in that time. Specifically, Carter said she is proud of board’s ability to problem-solve, self-analyze and tie their goals to action.

“Hiring a new superintendent was one of the early jobs of this board,” she said. “(Theron) Schutte is committed to making a difference in our community and it has been rewarding to see a transformation of pride and accomplishment over the last three years.”

Carter also listed the completion of Phase II of the Marshalltown High School Roundhouse project as a major accomplishment during her tenure.

“This was a project we inherited and so managing that project through a transition from Phase I to the final product we see today was a nice accomplishment for this board,” she said.

Board member Sean Heitmann was also on the 2015 ballot and said he is leaning toward another run for his seat in November.

“I think we’ve done a lot of good things. I’m pretty pleased with the Bobcat University summer programming, I would like to see that continue to grow and expand,” he said.

Heitmann said he is also proud of other expansions during his time on the board.

“I like the way we’ve integrated technology into the classrooms with ST Math and Lexia,” he said. “I think the Junior Achievement program has been really good, I like the way that’s continued to grow.”

If re-elected, Heitmann said he would like to address some key facilities concerns he’s heard from constituents.

“The things I hear the most about from anybody on facilities is the Miller (Middle School) auditorium and air conditioning the high school,” he said.

Heitmann said district administrators are working on a long-range facilities plan to address those and other facilities needs. He said he hopes to see such a plan come up for board approval in the future.

Fletcher was appointed to the board in October 2016 after former member Ben Stansberry stepped down in controversy. Fletcher said he has enjoyed his time on the board in the last three years, but said he does not intend to run again in November.

“Essentially, I’m just not feeling able to commit the time and priority necessary for it at this time,” he said.

Fletcher did have some advice for whoever takes his seat on the board after the election.

“It’s valuable and it’s enjoyable, you get to work with a lot of good people,” he said. “It’s a substantial commitment but you do get quite a bit out of it. At least that’s my experience.”

Fletcher said some highlights of his tenure on the board include expanding the former Rogers University summer program into the elementary- and intermediate-level Bobcat University program. He also said he is happy with the board’s efforts to expand preschool programming.

Fletcher also praised the community’s role in getting key things accomplished in the last few years, as well as Schutte’s leadership.

Aguirre did not share a decision on whether or not he will run in November. He was very recently appointed to the board to replace former member Ross Harris. Aguirre attended his first board meeting earlier this week.

Anyone wanting to run for one of the four school board seats up for election this year will have to file nomination papers with the school secretary during the official filing period. For school elections, that filing period will run Aug. 26 to 5 p.m. Sept. 19, according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.

The school board election will take place Nov. 5.

For more information, visit https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/electioninfo/schoolelections.html

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Contact Adam Sodders at 641-753-6611 or

asodders@timesrepublican.com