Meet Richard Whitaker, candidate for the Mediapolis School Board

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Four people are running for three seats on the Mediapolis School Board.

Incumbents Richard Whitaker and John Witte and challengers Peter Pfeiff and Mark Schmidgall will participate in the ballot on November 2.

The Hawk Eye asked each of the candidates to answer a series of questions before election day.

Here’s what Whitaker had to say:

Work and training

Twenty years as a social science teacher, secondary school guidance counselor, primary counselor, secondary school principal / sports director. Thirty years as a licensed family and marriage psychotherapist in the state of Iowa. BS Ed. And MS Ed. Degrees at WIU

What can you tell us about your family and how long have you lived in the school district?

The family includes the wife, three children and married spouses and seven grandchildren. Our three oldest grandchildren graduated from Mediapolis. Our four youngest grandchildren attend Mediapolis high school. My family and I have lived in the neighborhood for forty-five years.

Why do you want to serve on the school board and what made you decide to run?

I want to get involved in the education of children. I enjoyed being part of establishing a student support services team that, with the help of assistants and teachers, look after the social and emotional learning needs of students, part important to equity. There’s still much to do.

Why should people vote for you?

I care about children and children as students. I have a personal understanding of what it’s like to learn doesn’t come easily. I know how to help students in need and support the needs of teachers and parents. I can be a good listener. We have to listen to each other.

What school district issues are you most concerned about and how would you work to resolve them?

Challenges of: 1) student performance, 2) faculty performance and 3) administrative team performance. Student performance in English, math and science is excellent.

Mediapolis is fortunate to have a solid teaching and administrative team. Problems should be seen as challenges with opportunities for growth. I would work with the board as a team to establish policies that ensure the support and growth of all concerned.

What specific goals would you like to work towards achieving if elected to the board of directors?

Learning and personal development as a member of the board of directors. Respond to early childhood development needs as well as the needs of paras, teachers and parents. Support of the administrative team.

What do you think of the mask warrants and other COVID prevention measures?

COVID-19 rates have not been high enough to consider warrants. No member of the board of directors wants to mandate. Knowledge at the time of any decision should be based on many criteria, including public input. The well-being of our students does not depend on emotional reactions but on an informed response. We must continue to focus on other COVID prevention measures.

Do you agree with how Iowa and the state legislature handled the pandemic in public schools?

Decisions about student well-being must be made at the local level where parents, through an elected school board, are best placed to inform decisions.

Do you think the COVID pandemic has been politicized and, if so, how do you think your personal opinions would guide your decisions if you were elected to the board of directors?

The pandemic has been politicized. My personal opinions are guided by disease needs / metrics and parameters based on many criteria as well as public input. State guidance through our Iowa Department of Public Education is welcome.

Do you think that the parents in your neighborhood are sufficiently represented? Are their views heard by the board?

I would like to see more parents put their concerns on the agenda of our monthly board meetings and attend meetings. The members of our board of directors speak on behalf of parents. Parents communicate their views in person and via email. We can always listen better.

What do you think the board should do to improve and ensure equity among students?

Equity measures are an ongoing process for which we must be responsible. Implementing policies to ensure equity for every student is essential. Meeting emotional / social learning needs advances equity. The board should ask and focus on fairness at every meeting.


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