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J. B. Young Opportunity Center main entrance is shown Jan. 15, at 1702 N. Main Street in Davenport.

The Davenport Education Association is backing the two incumbents, Dan Gosa and Linda Hayes, as well as two newcomers, Jenner Kealey and Karen Kline-Jerome, for school board.

The recommended candidates were introduced at a press conference Wednesday at Davenport West High School’s Media Center. 

An unprecedented 14 candidates are running for four seats. President Ralph Johanson and Director Julie DeSalvo are not running for re-election. All board seats for Davenport School District are at-large, so board members represent the whole city rather than a specific district. 

Gosa, running for a second term, said he has also been endorsed by Tri-City Building and Construction Trades, UFCW 431 President Bob Waters, Scott County Supervisor Brinson Kinzer, State Senator Jim Lykam, Representatives Cindy Winckler and Phyllis Thede and community leader Vera Kelly. 

"I am truly humbled by the recommendation of the DEA," he said. "I have worked well with the teachers union and look forward to continuing to work together for the betterment of our students and district." 

Hayes, who now serves as board vice president, said she is running again because there is so much unfinished business. 

"School financing, the financing issues with the state that we have faced have not been resolved," Hayes said, referring to the district receiving $175 less per student from the state than other districts. 

Last year, she said, the state gave an additional $5 per student to 161 school districts where there is a $175 per-pupil disparity in funding. 

Hayes said some people looked at it, but others saw it as an insult.

According to the district's website, there were 15,234 students enrolled in the 2017-2018 school year. Based on that, the $5 per student comes to an additional $76,170.

Had the district been able to receive the whole $175, the district would have received $2,665,950 based on the 2017-2018 enrollment figures. 

Hayes said there remain issues of disproportionality, meaning there's an over-representation of minority students identified as having a learning disability. She also said student discipline issues and school transportation issues need addressed. 

Kealey said she spent the past five years working on the board for the Davenport Central Band and Orchestra Parents Association. 

"I really liked what I was seeing in the schools," Kealey said. "And then just seeing the news and seeing the trouble that Davenport was having, plus hearing about all the issues from the families that I serve within the Davenport schools, I felt like Davenport has a lot to offer. 

"We need to make that more well known about all the good Davenport schools are doing," she said. "They were wonderful for my kids."

Kline-Jerome retired from Davenport Schools after 32 years teaching from at all levels at Walcott, Fillmore, McKinley, Smart and Central. 

"I’m very committed to the district," Kline-Jerome said.

"I was very committed to the teachers and the kids when I taught, and as I was reading all the Phase II reports I was thinking I could make a difference."

Kline-Jerome said people pointed to her retirement and asked why she would run. But "if not me, then who?" she said. "I want to do this. I have a strong passion for this district, the kids and the teachers."

Amanda Crecelius, Political Action Committee Chair for the Davenport Education Association and a special education teacher at Davenport North High School, said the union chose its four candidates "because of their overall support for our kiddos and the teachers. And for us, our contract is important and they support the maintenance of our contract."

Crecelius said re-certification begins next week and contract negotiations will follow. 

"We are thankful that we got a contract extension the first time working with our school board, and we hope to maintain as much of that language as legally possible in the current negotiations," she said. "We need their support and we work together.

"If you want to recruit and retain the best and the brightest you need to maintain the contract language," Crucelius said. "We have to be able go advocate and speak out for our kids, and that contract language protects us and allows us to advocate for our students from our end.

"We have to make Davenport a place that people want to come and they want to stay and they want to feel safe and they want to feel supported," she added.  

Also running for school board are: Catarina Bolton, Michael DeVol, Kai Dickmann, Kari Dugan, Gene Guy, Mark Holloway, Lori Janke, Kent Paustian, Craig Piggott and Jennifer Starr.

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