School board candidates share district priorities

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Michael Finnegan

Kathy Ihde

By Molly Moser

Two candidates have filed for three open seats on the Clayton Ridge School board of directors.Incumbents Mike Finnegan and Kathy Ihde are seeking re-election. The third seat, currently held by Jason Reimer, can be filled by voter write-in. 

Rural Guttenberg resident Michael Finnegan is up for re-election to the school board on Tuesday, Sept. 12. He has served two four-year terms for the Clayton Ridge School board of directors, and says the experience has been a fulfilling one. 

“I have learned that by listening to teachers, staff, students, and community members we can work together to make Clayton Ridge a leader among school districts in the state of Iowa. I have also learned that listening with an open mind is important.  I am always open to new ideas that would benefit Clayton Ridge,” said Finnegan.

“My priorities are first and foremost a quality education for our students. Our students need to be prepared in order to fulfill their dreams after high school. Our students should also have a safe, secure, and accessible environment in which to learn. Updating both the Garnavillo and Guttenberg facilities will be a major priority on my list,” he told The Press. “I would like to see these projects through.”

“Being on school board is not always an easy job,” he added. “Everybody does not always agree with decisions and choices the board makes. However, the rewards are seeing the benefits of your decisions and how they help your district and the students move forward in a positive way. These rewards inspire me to continue to be a school board member. I would encourage community members to run for school board if they have the ambition to better their school district for their community.”

Garnavillo resident Kathy Ihde has served on the school board for 11 years and will run again this fall. With more than a decade of experience, she’s had opportunities to be involved in numerous projects including the Stephen D. Shannon Athletic Complex, the roll-out of computers with 1:1 intervention, numerous staff and administration changes with superintendent and two principals, the partnership to start the Iowa Virtual Academy, and replacement of HVAC units at the middle school. 

“All of these opportunities came with their own challenges and learning experiences, but all with positive outcomes,” said Ihde. “I would like to think the valuable assets I have learned are being a person that is engaged in the district and community as a whole. It takes loyalty, good communication, open-mindedness, and a lot of collaboration to productively meet the needs of our district.”

Ihde has also served on the Negotiations and Program Committees, making her aware of the school district’s financial responsibilities.

Ihde says her priorities at the present and at the beginning of a new term are moving forward with the updates and renovations of Clayton Ridge’s school buildings to ensure safe and nurturing learning environments; provide resources and professional development for enhancement in learning opportunities for both teachers and students, stay in touch with district goals and mission statements to keep the school board on task, and to encourage community awareness of the great attributes of the school district.

“It was very disappointing to learn that there was no one interested in being a potential candidate,” Ihde told The Press. “I can only encourage more people to take interest in being a school board candidate. Even if you do not have a child in school, it is important and interesting to know what is going on behind the scenes that a person takes for granted. We all are stakeholders in the lives of the youth in our community. They are the future of tomorrow. Yes, it is a commitment, but one I have felt that is well worth it.”

School board members whose terms are not expiring this year are John Heying, Alicia Helle, Ellen Johnson and  Christine Aulwes. Voting will take place in Guttenberg at the Municipal Building from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.,  in Garnavillo at the community center, and in North Buena Vista at the church hall.

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