School board members face criticism over district decisions

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DES MOINES, Iowa — School board meetings have been a point of tension as district leaders and parents discuss what COVID-19 guidelines should be enacted to keep students safe.

Although being a school board member can be a thankless job, Des Moines parent, Shelley Skuster, believes she’s up for the task. 

“Look, the school board job is a volunteer position. I don’t envy the stress that they’ve all been under,” Skuster said. “But I think we all have an expectation for our elected officials to listen.”

Skuster has four kids in Des Moines Public Schools. The Windsor Heights resident said she proactively tried to have conversations with her district’s leaders and felt ignored. This inspired her to seek a spot on the Des Moines School Board, for District 1. Skuster is now one of seven 2021 Des Moines School Board candidates.

The current Des Moines School Board Chair, Dwana Bradley, said governing during a pandemic isn’t the experience she was expecting. 

Bradley is in her third year of office and has fond memories of year one. She recalls school board members and parents being able to peacefully work together on issues such as building a community stadium and student outcomes.  

Now, Bradley believes school board members are often attacked for the tough decisions they have to make. 

“I hear the desperation in people’s voices. I hear what they want to do. But there’s also another level of things in which I’m looking at when I make my decisions,” Bradley said. “That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about you or your plight, or your child, or what’s going on. But we also have to figure out how we exist during a pandemic.” 

School Board Election Day is Tuesday, November 2nd. 

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