In the Nov. 5 election, voters in the Iowa City Community School District will choose four of the seven members of the school board. Two current members, Shawn Eyestone and Paul Roesler, are running for reelection. Phil Hemingway and Lori Roetlin decided against seeking another term.
Little Village emailed questionnaires to the seven school board candidates. All the candidates were asked the same set of questions.
Paul Roesler is a product of the Iowa City Community School District — from Lucas Elementary to South East Junior High to City High — and is currently vice president of the district’s school board. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sports studies from the University of Iowa and has worked at Scheels in Coral Ridge Mall for 21 years, where he is in charge of community outreach, social media and donations.
Roesler’s wife Brandi is a kindergarten teacher at Mark Twain Elementary School. The couple has two daughters, one is a sophomore at City High and the other is in seventh grade at South East.
Roesler was elected to the school board in the 2016 special election following the resignation of board member Tom Yates.
What other public service organizations have you been active with? Have you served in elective office before? What made you interested in becoming active in public service?
In my role at Scheels, one of the best things that I get to do is work with our community. We are dedicated to giving back to the community that we are in through service, donations, partnerships, sponsorships and helping with community needs. In my role, I am able to connect to many different community organizations.
Serving on this school board was the first elected position that I have had. One of the many reasons my wife and I stayed in Iowa City to raise our family is the excellent education this district provides. Education is something that I have been passionate about for a long time and to be able to contribute to this community in the role of a board director is a perfect fit for me and my passion to give back to the schools.
Why did you choose to run for the school board, rather than some other elected office?
I have always wanted to be involved in education. In 2013, I began to follow district issues closer than ever by attending board meetings, and I never looked back. I have been active at the district level, eventually winning a seat on the board in 2016. I thoroughly enjoy the work that we are doing but I don’t feel like we, as a board, are done doing the work we have started. I want to see that work through. If reelected, I will be the senior member of the board; that past knowledge and workload will help as we begin our search for a new superintendent.
What do you see as the biggest long-term issues the district is facing?
Everything that has resulted from the constant underfunding of education from the state of Iowa. I often have said that you can only feed us crumbs for so long before we begin to starve. Our district is beginning to starve. The impact is being felt directly inside the classrooms. From larger, unacceptable class sizes, to lack of proper supports, nurses, counselors, mental health workers, reduced course offerings, etc., the ICCSD is feeling the pain. When all of those things are combined along with the challenges students and staff face outside the classroom and at home, you begin to see that negatively impact learning and teaching. This is not an overnight fix and we are constantly working to improve on it.
What do you see as the more pressing problems that the district can solve in the short term? What would your approach be to solving these problems?
One thing that I have been thinking about since Superintendent Murley announced he would be leaving is the hiring of the next superintendent to lead this district. That hiring process in and of itself is going to be a long process, but before we even get started we need to work on defining the vision of the district going forward. This vision will set the course and destination for where we want the district to go. The [new] superintendent will hopefully be someone who can help us make that vision become a reality. As a board, we need to commit to working towards defining that vision; a board that works well together will be able to do that work in the next few months.
What in your personal skill set, or previous experience, would make you an effective member of the school board?
As I mentioned earlier, if I am reelected I will be the most senior member on the board. In my three years on the board, I have worked with 10 different board members which is high for a school board. Bringing some consistency and historical knowledge to the conversations will be a strength that I have. During my time on the board, I have served as vice president twice, served all three years on the Policy and Governance Committee, in addition, I have served on the Insurance Committee, the Safety Committee and World Language Review Committee. I have been awarded the IASB (Iowa Association of School Boards) Better Boardsmanship Award three times. It acknowledges the extensive time and effort required of school board members who continually strive to expand their knowledge and skills for better board governance.