Sara Barron for School Board

Equity, excellence, community, and vision

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Thank you!

Thanks to everyone who supported me, challenged me, hosted parties and yard signs, wrote letters of support, and donated money and time. This campaign was our opportunity to talk about some of the most challenging decisions our school district faces, and how to move forward in service of all children, families, teachers and staff, and neighborhoods throughout our district. I firmly believe we accomplished that goal, even though I fell short on election day.

Moving forward together doesn’t hinge solely on the three people who were elected. We can keep our momentum and advocacy strong, and continue to shape school policy and outcomes through feedback, stronger resources, and creative, collaborative participation. I challenge each of you to find your own way to stay involved.

With much gratitude,



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The story behind campaign donations

The Gazette and Press-Citizen have published the fundraising totals for each candidate, and other than Phil—whose campaign is self-funded—I have the lowest total. Why?

Let me start by saying this: I am a professional fundraiser.

I know how to ask people for money to support a great cause. Without a doubt, I believe in myself and my campaign. But I don’t believe in spending thousands of dollars on a local school board campaign. I just don’t.

So, I didn’t ask people for money. A little button on my website paid for my yard signs—my one major splurge. I did a small mailing. And I’m very grateful to my family and other supporters who chose to send their financial support my way to cover those expenses.

But if I’m going to ask you all to invest in something, it’s not fancy brochures.

Want to show your support? VOTE FOR ME. Invest in our students and our neighborhoods by electing someone who will be an advocate for their success. Help me prove that we choose our candidates based on their ideas, their vision, and their approach to collaboration and problem-solving.

And, hey, are you looking for somewhere to make a donation that will benefit youth in our community? I have an idea for that, too. 🙂


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Guest Opinion

As published in The Gazette and

by Sara Barron, ICCSD school board candidate

Through our public schools, we have a great opportunity and a great obligation to help all of our children reach their full potential. I’m running for the school board because I believe that every child is important, and our schools must reflect that value.

My work at Big Brothers Big Sisters has given me a valuable perspective on the strength of our students and families. I’ve sat down with countless families in their homes, and each one has told me about their hopes and dreams for their children. Their future success depends on an education that meets their needs, fosters their love of learning, and inspires them to become an involved member of their community.

Both my personal and professional life demonstrate my strong commitment to equity and action. My wife Melissa is an ICCSD special education teacher. Our children, Liam and Mae, attend Grant Wood Elementary because we value and gladly contribute to its diversity. I’m the co-chair of the Johnson County Disproportionate Minority Contact committee, a group that reviews and works to correct racial imbalance in our juvenile justice, school discipline, and child welfare systems. I’m a Big Sister to a wonderful third-grader. I have served on the PTO, the District Parent Organization, and the Facilities Master Plan Steering Committee. (As a member of that committee, I supported the development of our third comprehensive high school and advocated against closing schools, including Hoover.)

Our public schools are at a crossroads. Over the next four years, we’ll be making decisions that shape our community and its resources in significant, lasting ways. To lead us through this process, we need a school board full of compassionate, thoughtful listeners. We need board members who can be informed facilitators of community-wide discussions about our priorties. We need smart, creative, and decisive action that moves us forward. With a seat on the board, I will work my hardest on behalf of each neighborhood and community.

My goals for the school board can be summed up in four themes:

Equity: All students should have equal access to outstanding learning opportunities. Our schools must be responsive to individual needs and respectful of cultural, economic, social, and racial backgrounds. Facilities are also a critical part of this equity.

Excellence: Our schools must invest in a range of programming for students of all abilities. We must also support the health and well-being of students and staff through nutrition, physical activity, the arts, and social supports. Our teachers must be given the resources they need to do their jobs.

Community: Neighborhood schools and community partnerships benefit us all. Decisions need to be evaluated for their impact on community development, especially in more vulnerable areas. We need to be good stewards of our financial resources.

Vision: I vow to be an engaged listener and learner, seeking opinions and perspectives from people throughout the district. We owe it to our children to move forward and work together, both when tackling our challenges and when building on our successes.

With your vote for me on September 10, we can seize this chance to fulfill the promises made by public education: the resources for every student to succeed, and true community investment in our collective future.

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The answers to some of your most frequently-asked questions:

Do you support the plan to close Hoover?

As a member of the Facilities Master Plan Steering Committee, I was one of two people to vote against closing any schools. I voted against closing schools because the capacity numbers developed by BLDD are ideals, not attainable goals. Making a decision to close a school based on something other than realistic data is not a choice I can support.

I also think that the school district has a tremendous responsibility as a steward of public resources to: 1) spend money carefully, and 2) to use these resources to invest in sustainable community development. Closing Hoover meets neither of these criteria for me.

Do you support the Diversity Policy?

I agree wholeheartedly with the goal of creating better socio-economic balance in our schools, especially at the elementary level. I am willing to work with the existing policy to achieve this balance. If, however, we find out that a certain piece of the Diversity Policy is precluding us from getting closer to our goals, I am open to revising it.

Beyond the Diversity Policy, I see the need for several other measures before we reach any sort of true equity in our education. Closing the racial and economic achievement gaps on our standardized tests and other measures, improving school climate, and addressing disproportional representation of students of color in special education and the school discipline process are just a few of the areas we need to keep our focus on. The Diversity Policy may very well help with some of these concerns, but it doesn’t allow us to check “equity and diversity” off of our to-do list.

I don’t trust the district. Why should I trust you?

We are coming off of some very tough years for our district. Resources were low, long-term planning was nil, and straightforward solutions were in short supply.

I feel confident that in two or three years, the board and the administration can earn this trust back. Investments in our facilities throughout the district, better long-term planning and maintenance, and stronger attention to communication and transparency are improving. (Not perfect! But improving.) On the board, I will make certain we stay committed to these principles.


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Sara’s Guide for Voters

Several times recently, I’ve been asked by my supporters which other two candidates I’d like to see get elected.

It’s an interesting (and sensible, I suppose) question to ask. I have to admit, I’m bullet voting for myself only. The way the system is set up, if I voted for two other candidates, I’d be voting against myself. Twice.

But I have gotten to know the other eight people running in this election cycle with me. And I’m glad to share what I like about each candidate, for whatever little it’s worth. Your job is to decide who else among these good folks you’d like to see representing you at the board table.

(P.S., I do know that this is a kind of weird thing to do. But I strongly believe that our district politics could use a little more positivity, especially toward those with whom we are “competing.” Here’s hoping it’s taken in the spirit in which it’s intended. )

Karla Cook: Karla was a teacher in the Iowa City schools for 25 years, so she knows first-hand what happens in the classroom. As an incumbent, she also has an understanding of the day-to-day work of the board.

Tuyet Dorau: Tuyet has spent her time on the board asking thoughtful questions before making her decisions. She’s certainly not afraid to dissent if she feels it’s warranted. She’s very well-informed about our district’s needs.

Gregg Geerdes: Gregg has a critical eye on our financial outlook and a clear focus on spending money wisely. When you talk to him about non-financial issues, it’s obvious he has a softer side, too.

Phil Hemingway: Phil is a fun guy to talk to one-on-one. He has clearly demonstrated his commitment to school board politics over the last several years. He’s dogged about accountability.

Brian Kirschling: Brian has strong connections throughout the community and, as a City High alum, demonstrates a strong passion for our schools. He’s a friendly and approachable leader.

Jason Lewis: Jason, as a fellow southeast side parent, has a first-hand knowledge of this area’s equity concerns. He earnestly wants to create a bold vision for the district.

Chris Lynch: Chris was one of the main public supporters of the Revenue Purpose Statement, which was a huge step forward for our schools. Without its passage, we’d still be staring down all of these facilities needs (air-conditioning, third high school, more elementary seats) and have no way to pay for them. He’s a fair thinker.

Jim Tate: Jim is a genuinely nice guy. He’s also a regular at board meetings. As a union rep who works at United Natural Foods, he has a different perspective to share. I admire his determination to run again after falling short last time.

Who to choose? I can’t say. But I feel optimistic that on September 11, we’ll have a board of seven people who truly want to keep our district moving forward.

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The Four Principles: Equity, Excellence, Community, and Vision

EQUITY     Every student in the Iowa City Community School District should have equal access to high-quality education and resources.

As a steward of public education, Sara will work to ensure that every student in the district has equal access to the outstanding learning opportunities we provide. Sara will advocate for programs and curricula that are responsive to individual academic needs and respectful of all cultural, economic, social, and racial backgrounds. Sara believes that every student in the district has something to contribute to its overall diversity.

EXCELLENCE     A wide range of innovative programs will ensure that ICCSD students are ready to lead.

Sara understands that our schools must invest in a range of programming for students of all abilities. She’ll see to it that we offer 21st-century educational opportunities and technology district-wide. Sara will also maintain a focus on the health and well-being of students and staff.

COMMUNITY     The ICCSD can help to build strong families, neighborhoods, and community.

Sara supports neighborhood schools and partnerships that benefit both the schools and the broader community. Sara believes that facility and program decisions need to be evaluated for their impact on community development, particularly in more vulnerable areas.

VISION     Let’s listen to each other, work together, and move forward as one district.

As a board member, Sara will be an engaged listener and learner, seeking opinions and perspectives from people throughout the district. Where disagreements or conflicting needs arise, Sara will balance the desires of the community with the advancement of the district as a whole. With leaders like Sara who are creative, thoughtful, respectful, and future-thinking, we can take decisive—not divisive—action.