WATERLOO — Voters at the polls Tuesday will see contested races on the Waterloo Community Schools’ Board of Education ballot for both Director Districts 1 and 4.

However, one of two candidates in each race, Brian Jacobs and Leah Morrison, have withdrawn and are no longer campaigning for the seats. Their names remain on the ballot because their decisions were made after the printing deadline.

The other two candidates are Astor Williams for the District 1 seat and Endya Johnson for the District 4 seat. Only voters living in those director districts will cast ballots for the candidates. Current board member Shanlee McNally also is running unopposed for an at-large seat, which is elected by all school district voters.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Information polling places can be found online through the Black Hawk County election office.

Johnson and Williams talked about issues and concerns they would like to address as members of the board, from improved communication among district staff to adjustments in school attendance areas.

“One example is making sure paraeducators have their voices heard,” said Johnson, calling their classroom role essential. “I would like to help give them a seat at the table when issues come up.”

She also voiced concern about a lack of diversity in mentors, suggesting they should “match the diversity of our students.” She proposed asking for the assistance of retired teachers and administrators to help accomplish this.

An issue where Williams would like to see a change is “the boundary lines, including the number of students in each building.” The former coach also wants “the state of athletics in the district” to be addressed. Another top priority is “the recruitment and retainment of qualified teachers in the district,” he said.

Johnson would like to see “the hiring of teachers and support staff that reflect the diversity of our community.” In the meantime, she called for staff to continue receiving “professional development in cultural competencies” so they can better educate and engage students of all races and ethnicities.

Williams said “maximum engagement” is achieved by placing students with staff they respect. “A positive relationship between student and teacher is the most important aspect of all of this.”

While the district has made strides on student achievement, both would like to see more.

“Academic achievement should always be the number one focus of any school district,” said Williams. “My goal is to get academic achievement as close to 100 percent as possible. I believe making parents and students aware of the wide range of programming that the district and outside organizations offer would be beneficial in improving or maintaining student performance levels.”

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Staff Writer

Education reporter for the Courier

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