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by Staff report · August 24th, 2017


Robert "Bob" Anderson

Q. What is your current occupation?

A. Retired Vocal Music Teacher from Linn-Mar High School

Q. Have you held or sought a position on the Board of Education before?

A. No

Q. What experience do you have - education, military service, etc.?

A. I received a Bachelor of Music Education education degree from Westmar College and have done graduate work at the University of Iowa. I recently retired after 41 years of public school teaching in Iowa, the last 22 at Linn-Mar High School.

Q. What connections (student, family member, close friend's children, etc.) do you have with the school district?

A. In addition to teaching at Linn-Mar High School, our son, Matthew, attended Linn-Mar from kindergarten through his graduation in 2015.

Q. Why are you running for the available seat on the Board of Education at Linn-Mar Community School District?

A. I want to give back to the school district that so enriched our families lives. I want to be a part of governing the continued development of this community that is Linn-Mar. While at the High School I managed one of the largest and most comprehensive vocal music programs in Iowa. With those skills and my background in education, I can offer the Board a perspective to assure all Linn-Mar children the highest level, and most innovative education available. With my experience being around school budgets I will work to assure that taxpayers money will be spent wisely for the betterment of our students

Q. If elected, what areas are most critical to you? What would you like to achieve?

A. Linn-Mar has three significant challenges immediately ahead:

Answering the problems of enough and appropriate physical space for teaching our students because of the rapid growth in our district. This is especially critical in grades K-8. Passing the proposed bond issue is critical to Linn-Mar. Beyond that we must maintain a constant awareness of growth, and the educational needs related to that, with the communities that form the Linn-Mar District. My goal would be the most efficient use of existing facilities and consideration of expanding the physical footprint at appropriate times when it is necessary.


Dealing with ever decreasing funds due to limited state aid. The Board must continue to advocate with our legislators to get the best funding we can for students in Iowa, and spend the money Linn-Mar receives in a way that is efficient and directly related to student learning. I would be very active in advocating with our area state legislative representatives and by going to Des Moines to work to get funding that is important to Linn-Mar students.


The end of collective bargaining by the State of Iowa. The essence of great education lies in the hands of the teachers that work with students every day. Linn-Mar has a history of hiring outstanding educators and keeping them in place. The Linn-Mar School Board will need to work to assure the professional educators excellent compensation and working conditions to guarantee we have the best professionals teaching in our classrooms. I would promote and work on the idea of a transparent and collaborative effort between the Linn-Mar School Board and the Linn-Mar Education Association to develop a contract that our patrons would be proud of and would reward our professional educators for their outstanding work. 


Q. What have you been doing to prepare for the role if elected to the school board?

A. I have had discussions with current, past and currently outgoing Linn-Mar School Board members regarding how a school board actually functions. I have reviewed past board meeting minutes to understand the system to see how decision making has worked. I have talked with community members about my purpose and goals of being on the Linn-Mar School Board.



Bob Gabel

Q. What is your current occupation?

A. Program Manager, Rockwell Collins.

Q. Have you held or sought a position on the Board of Education before?

A. No, Up until now I have devoted 100% of my time to my career and my family. Now I have reached a time in my life that allows me to give back to my community.

Q. What experience do you have - education, military service, etc.?

A. I have undergraduate degrees in Digital Engineering, Marketing and International Management as well as MBA. I am also a former United States Marine

Q. What connections (student, family member, close friend's children, etc.) do you have with the school district?

A. I have two daughters who are graduates of Linn-Mar High School and a son who will start kindergarten at Echo Hill this fall and a second son who be attending Linn-Mar in a couple of years.

Q. Why are you running for the available seat on the Board of Education at Linn-Mar Community School District?

A. I have lived in Marion over 20 years. As I mentioned I am a father of four children, two daughters who are Linn-Mar graduates and two young sons, one of whom will be starting at Echo Hill this fall.

My career with Rockwell Collins has taken me all over the world which has limited my ability to give back to the community. But I have reached that point in life where I can and do want to make a difference in the community and feel confident, that given the opportunity, I can. With my son starting at Echo Hill in the fall, I decided joining the Linn-Mar School Board would be the perfect opportunity.

Planning for the future, recruiting the best talent and managing complex issues are something I have done for 35 years. As an active member of the School Board, I know I can use my experience in conflict resolution and consensus building to help Linn-Mar continue to be great. I know I can add value to the board as we plan be build an even better school system with teachers, school buildings and a curriculum for our community's children which prepare them for their future and lead successful, productive lives.

As we look forward to this growth I think it is important to have many diverse voices involved in the discussion. A collaborative process that brings together a team focused on solving problems is done best by listening to people, raising questions and then focusing on results. Just as I have done for 35 years.

Q. If elected, what areas are most critical to you? What would you like to achieve?

A. To me it is clear the Linn-Mar school district is experiencing significant growth now and will in the future, so it will be essential to balance that growth with maintaining the quality of education our children deserve. We are accustomed to the highest standards, so we must maintain those standards when growing staff and facilities. And last but certainly not least we have to the judicious in our expenditures so we provide the community the best bang for their hard earned dollars.

If elected, I will listen to the issues raised by the people who are the working through those issues every day. I will want to hear from the parents, the teachers and the students about what we can do to make a great school district even better. I do not come to the board with any preconceived notions. I do bring a willingness to listen to all parties and use my experience of working though complex problems, building consensus and achieving results. I sincerely hope when my time is done on the school board we will have left a great district even better and ready to educate our children in the years to come.

Q. What have you been doing to prepare for the role if elected to the school board?

A. I believe the board and community are best served by having members with a diverse background all focused on the education of our children. I will bring an open mind. I will leverage what I learned in achieving my MBA as well as my experience in negotiating, planning and running multi-million dollars programs successfully. I currently manage execution activities similar in size and complexity to the proposed bond issue. With this experience, along with my diverse background, I firmly believe the community would benefit from the execution leadership experience I will bring to the board.

With an open mind and experience bringing complex programs to successful conclusion I will assist the board in bringing the new schools on board in an efficient manner, I will use my listening skills to bring consensus to issues that might arise and with a school budget approaching $80M I will be a representative of the community to ensure we are bring best value solutions to all our stakeholders - the students, the teachers and the parents.



Derek Jensen

Q. What is your current occupation?

A. Employed at Rockwell Collins since 2007.

Q. Have you held or sought a position on the Board of Education before?

A. No

Q. What experience do you have - education, military service, etc.?

A. Active duty US Navy 1988-1996, BS Industrial Engineering in 1999. Various engineering and management roles in aerospace/defense 1999-present.

Q. What connections (student, family member, close friend's children, etc.) do you have with the school district?

A. We have a Junior in High School, and 8th grader at Oak Ridge and a 5th grader at Echo Hill.

Q. Why are you running for the available seat on the Board of Education at Linn-Mar Community School District?

A. I believe in the importance of high quality public education & I am an advocate for our district & our teachers. I support the Bond Issue. I am ready to serve as a Board of Education member in order to continue to develop the district's strategic plan for growth.

Q. If elected, what areas are most critical to you? What would you like to achieve?

A. Managing our continued growth will remain a top priority for the foreseeable future. Cost effective technology integration in the classroom in order to give our teachers the tools they need to be effective. Setting policy in order to allow our teachers to grow & develop into world class educators.

Q. What have you been doing to prepare for the role if elected to the school board?

A. I have served as Treasurer, Vice President & President of the Echo Hill Elementary PTO. I was a member of both the 2009 & 2013 District boundary committees. Most recently, I served on the facilities committee that assisted the administration in developing the plan set forth in the Bond vote.



Cara Lausen

Q. What is your current occupation?

A. I am the office manager for a small, startup company in downtown Cedar Rapids.

Q. Have you held or sought a position on the Board of Education before?

A. I have not.

Q. What experience do you have - education, military service, etc.?

A. I have been very involved in our district for the past 7 years, starting out initially as a parent volunteer through Linn-Mar's phenomenal volunteer program and Bowman Woods Elementary's PTO. I worked with my fellow PTO members to shift the focus of the PTO to one annual fundraiser and a whole year of free fun for all of our families, with this change we were able to largely boost attendance at our events while still raising enough funds to continue to support our students and teachers. After attending my first school board meeting years ago, I was hooked. I regularly attend school board meetings, both work and open sessions, as well as other types of community meetings (i.e. coffee conversations hosted by the board). I have served on the district's equity committee, health and human development committee and most recently I was honored to be asked to serve on the facilities committee. The facilities committee was made up of community members, parents, teachers and staff of our district and was tasked with making recommendations to the board regarding the proposed restructuring plan and the district's priorities regarding the bond and the changes we could make in our existing buildings. I also have helped to organize a visit to Des Moines with some fellow Linn-Mar parents to meet with our legislators and impress upon them the importance of adequate school funding and the disservice unfunded mandates do to our schools (at the time the issues were 3rd grade retention/summer school and smarter balanced testing). I also regularly attend town hall meetings for both republican and democrat representatives to stay informed and to have the opportunity to express the importance of public education as well as other important issues. I also am currently working with one of my peers to lead the "Vote Yes" campaign for the bond issue before our voters, you can find our work at https://www.facebook.com/LMVoteYes/. This requires us to not only do grassroots level campaigning but has given us the opportunity to work very closely with school administration and board to ensure we always have the most accurate and up to date information to give to our constituents. While I am a college graduate, I feel my experience far outweighs my education for this role.

Q. What connections (student, family member, close friend's children, etc.) do you have with the school district?

A. My husband and I have two daughters in the Linn-Mar District, one in 5th grade this year at Bowman Woods and one in 6th grade at Oak Ridge. Additionally, my sister in law will be a sophomore at the high school this year.

Q. Why are you running for the available seat on the Board of Education at Linn-Mar Community School District?

A. I have been inspired by the unwavering dedication I have seen from Linn-Mar teachers and staff and I want to support them in the best way I know how, by advocating for them. I have a sincere passion for the students in our district, but specifically for our at-risk population, and I want to ensure that Linn-Mar continues to place ALL our students on their unique path to success by offering a diverse set of learning opportunities. I believe in the path of growth the district is on, I stand behind our strategic plan and I am excited to see what the future holds for us.

Q. If elected, what areas are most critical to you? What would you like to achieve?

A. I am not a candidate with an agenda or an issue. I am running for this position because I am passionate about supporting our students, staff and community. Linn-Mar, like any other school district, will always have ways to improve and challenges it is facing, but I look forward to facing them head on and tackling challenges that are certain to arise. We will need to be sure we are staying on top of continued growth in our district and community and, with the best interest of our students in mind, keep tabs on space in our buildings as well as potential demographic shifts and make changes where needed. We also will, especially over the next legislative year, be sure we are advocating for school funding with our elected officials as well as keeping tabs on how our legislature will be implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act in Iowa schools. This would be in addition to any other future legislative priorities determined after the legislative session begins this fall. Additionally, I would like to continue the path of improved communication with our stakeholders through multiple means of bidirectional information sharing. As a district, we are off to a great start, offering community meetings and multiple sources of information, as well as the Thought Exchange Survey that was implemented last school year. This type of communication needs to continue, and increase where appropriate and necessary.

Q. What have you been doing to prepare for the role if elected to the school board?

A. All the involvement listed as my experience has been my prep work for this role, this is not a position that I am scrambling to be prepared for. Attending school board meetings for years has allowed me to become more and more informed about what is happening in our district and how our district works. This attendance also has allowed me to find mentors in board members who are staying on the board as well as outgoing board members, these relationships will prove to be invaluable. I also have established professional relationships with many of the members of our administration and staff over this time as well through my service on committees and my volunteer work in the district. I am ready to jump in and get to work.



John L. Sauer

Q. What is your current occupation?

A. I am retired from a 33 year career in education.

Q. Have you held or sought a position on the Board of Education before?

A. No.

Q. What experience do you have - education, military service, etc.?

A. I was an Iowa school superintendent for 17 years.

Q. What connections (student, family member, close friend's children, etc.) do you have with the school district?

A. I have two grandchildren in the Linn-Mar Schools.

Q. Why are you running for the available seat on the Board of Education at Linn-Mar Community School District?

A. I believe that the Linn-Mar School District has a reputation for excellence in academics, athletics, and fine arts and I would like to see that reputation continue through strong leadership and thoughtful planning.

Q. If elected, what areas are most critical to you? What would you like to achieve?

A. The number of students continues to grow at a rapid rate. This growth must be addressed with new facilities, adequate equipment, and added staff. During my years serving as a district superintendent I was involved with passing bond referendums and the construction of new buildings so I hope to bring some prior knowledge that will be helpful in whatever issues or goals the district will face in the next 4 years.

Q. What have you been doing to prepare for the role if elected to the school board?

A. I have been following the Linn-Mar board's planning progress, strategic planning, and the ThoughtExchange survey that went out to students and parents. I believe that I can bring a unique set of skills to the board and could be a valuable asset as a Board of Education member.



Rachel Wall

Q. What is your current occupation?

A. I am a stay-at-home mom of two daughters.

Q. Have you held or sought a position on the Board of Education before?

A. No.

Q. What experience do you have - education, military service, etc.?

A. I am an active volunteer at Indian Creek Elementary, regularly attending volunteer workshops. I have participated the last two years in the district-wide 4th Grade States Project making presentations to the students of each elementary school. In addition, I have accepted an invitation to coordinate the America Reads program at Indian Creek this year.

Q. What connections (student, family member, close friend's children, etc.) do you have with the school district?

A. I have two daughters, Hannah, who will be a 4th Grader at Indian Creek Elementary this year, and Aubree, who will attend Kindergarten in the fall of 2018.

Q. Why are you running for the available seat on the Board of Education at Linn-Mar Community School District?

A. I am running for school board because I am deeply passionate about public education. Few things have the ability to be transformative in the way a quality education can. As the great equalizer, education can change children's lives. I care deeply about all of our Linn-Mar students and staff and I am dedicated to making sure that we continue to provide them with the necessary tools for success and the opportunity for a bright future. As the board faces new challenges, competent leadership and responsible fiscal stewardship are essential. I believe that my skills and strengths will lend themselves to good board membership and I am eager to take on this challenge and serve our community.

Q. If elected, what areas are most critical to you?

What would you like to achieve?

A. The three biggest challenges that Linn-Mar faces are population growth, sweeping changes to collective bargaining, and budgetary issues related to underfunding from the state.

On the ballot this election, is an $80 million bond proposal that would pay for two 5-6 buildings and a K-4 building, as well as renovations to the "historic" elementary schools and Excelsior Middle School. This restructuring offers the most cost-effective way to address burgeoning growth in Linn-Mar and passage of the bond is critical.

This year the board will grapple with the 2017 legislation out of Des Moines that ushered in significant changes to collective bargaining. Many of our teachers are understandably concerned about what this will mean for their livelihoods and professional development, and the board must do its best to reassure teachers that they won't have the rug pulled out from under them. Our teachers are the backbone of our district and we must

support them.

Linn-Mar, and all districts, will likely face continued budgetary challenges from inadequate increases to Student Supplemental Assistance (SSA). While we hope that the state will recognize the importance of education and provide minimum increases of 4%, we will have to prepare for the likelihood that any increases will fall far below that level. While seeking creative ways to make that money go further, I pledge to make sure that students and their education always come first.

Q. What have you been doing to prepare for the role if elected to the school board?

A. My experience in research, and commitment to on-going learning, drives my understanding of the complexities of how the board and district operate. I have spoken to countless parents and teachers about what they feel the district's strengths and weaknesses are. I have also met with and developed relationships with existing board members, teachers and staff that I believe will be invaluable.
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