Updated: Monday, Sept. 11, 5:04 p.m.

I support Drost, Stream

If one were to tally the number of votes cast at Iowa school board elections each fall, one might conclude that the role of school board member is not an important one. The reality is that school boards are very important, having the capacity to set the course for a district for years to come. Sadly, the yield of tallied votes in school board elections is paltry in comparison to those cast in other elections. The upcoming board election is a very important community event!

I am supporting Carl Drost and Lynette Stream because they look at education in Oskaloosa realistically and want Oskaloosa to return to the level of excellence we were once known for around our conference and the state. They also know that excuses don’t solve problems. During last week’s school board forum, Carl and Lynette expressed solid ideas for what will make Oskaloosa Schools a better place for students. Their emphasis was upon student needs, goals, and a future course, not upon themselves.

Drost has performed his role with dignity and with a emphasis upon each child. He has done this by ensuring that performance and behavioral data be available for board analysis, and has insisted that all data be honestly examined and scrutinized regardless of what that data tells us. To do otherwise is to fail in our responsibility to each child.

Rather than championing every experimental educational practice with Oskaloosa’s students, Carl stayed focused on the critical questions. He asked why we have continued to lose students, with as many as 250 to 300 students open enrolled to other districts. He led the way by listening to parents who wanted to know why Oskaloosa students are struggling emotionally in response to out of control behavior. If Carl hadn’t been persistent in his concern for test scores and behavior problems in our schools, I question that any current initiates would have been implemented. And a few years back, when our basal readers were locked away in district closets, he asked, “why?”

When teachers need support, Carl is there. He frequently meets with teachers and has had an open door policy for anyone needing his help. He has often stated that our teachers and staff can be counted as one of our greatest assets. His presence in our schools has been consistent and welcomed by staff. He listens to the needs of teachers, students, and parents. This is what a board member should do — ask the hard questions, make oneself available to staff, students, and the community, and provide leadership in goal setting.

Many, if not all, of Carl’s concerns were confirmed by the Iowa School Board Association who determined, in 2014, that our district should proceed with a sense of urgency to reverse the trend of downward spiral in math and reading performance. It should also be noted, for those who do not know Carl, that Carl has considerable knowledge regarding school finance and district policy. This knowledge has been an invaluable asset to the Oskaloosa Schools.

Similarly, Lynette will look at the issues from the perspective of a parent with children attending Oskaloosa schools. She is coming forward to serve due to the concerns of many parents who want to regain excellence in education for their children. Lynette’s concern for students suffering from PTSD is a big concern of hers. As a former counselor of 26 years with elementary students in the Oskaloosa district, I cannot disagree with her assessment of the mental health needs and their causes. There are a number of systemic issues related to why some students behave as they do — lack of structure in the classroom, how special needs students learn, and a host of other considerations. Lynette is focused on the needs of these students and the wellbeing of all students. Know that this will be one of Lynette’s concerns moving forward. Her diligence in attending board meetings and bringing attention to behavioral issues has, perhaps, resulted in new initiatives in our schools to deal with the behavioral concerns of parents and the community. In last week’s forum it was stated that such concerns for behavior amount to negativity. Stating the truth about parent concerns is being proactive, not negative. If we had been more proactive, perhaps we would not be looking at a deficit in enrollment of nearly 300 students!

Carl and Lynette will both provide focus for the board and work with other board members in making our district a source of community pride. Please join with me and cast your vote for Carl Drost and Lynette Stream on Sept. 12.

Greg McCaulley

Retired counselor

Oskaloosa

Re-elect Tom Richardson

I encourage all of you to review the candidates for school board and get to know how our schools operate. I have heard many people talking about all of the negative things about our district, but what about what is going right?

I think some people are more interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of our schools and telling you who’s to blame for it. I know we have problems to solve and room for improvement, but we need to be part of the solution and provide ideas and assist our teachers, staff, and administrators. I have volunteered the past 10 years at the elementary level, serving as Oskaloosa Elementary PTO President & PTO Treasurer. Tom Richardson was always willing to attend meetings and help find solutions for any issues that the elementary was experiencing.

Everyone is talking about the behavior issues which is a small percentage of the children that attend the Oskaloosa Elementary School, middle school, and high school. I currently assist at the middle school on the Parent Advisory Committee and sit on the Oskaloosa Indian Booster Club board that supports many activities and teams at the middle and high school level. I have spent many hours volunteering and witnessing some of the great things that happen in our schools on a daily basis between students with our teachers, staff, and administrators. Tom & Minnie Richardson attended the same meetings trying to assist our schools with any issues the middle school was experiencing.

We have many students in all the schools that are doing great things. For example: the sixth grade math bee students who finished first out of many area schools this past year, honor band, state qualifying athletes in many sports and with many more we could mention at all levels in the district. We will have those who choose to send their children to a smaller area schools for various reasons: smaller class size, athletics, or behavior, but parents also need to teach their children to accept people and find a common ground. In the future, our students will have to work with many people you may not see eye to eye with or have the same upbringing. We need to teach our students to look for the good, and see the value in their differences.

Tom Richardson is a parent of children in the district and has spent many hours volunteering in each building and assisting many educational boards. I currently sit on the Oskaloosa Education Foundation Board with Tom and he is always looking at the big picture for all students and not a select group of students. Tom will work with others to help solve issues and move our district ahead. Please remember to vote on Sept. 12 or request your vote absentee at the Mahaska County Courthouse on or before Sept. 11.

Kathy Butler

Oskaloosa

Editor's Note: This letter was submitted last week but accidentally not included with other Oskaloosa Community School District Board of Directors election letters last week.

Strongly encourage to vote for Stream

I encourage you to vote for Lynette Stream for Oskaloosa School Board. As my friend of 20 years, I can say that she wants a solid education for your school age children and no one will fight harder for them. Having known Lynette for 20 years, I can say that she is trustworthy and has strong morals. Having her degree in finance, I can say she is smart. Having two school age children of her own, I can say she is dedicated and hard working.

And having grown up in the Oskaloosa area, I can say she cares about the community. If you're interested in voting for a school board member who doesn't play the political game, you can trust Lynette Stream to deliver strong leadership without the need for personal gain. Her motivation is providing the children of Oskaloosa with the education they need to be good, successful citizens. Your vote is important. Don't waste it on another candidate.

Tamra Lenz

Norfolk, Virginia

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