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Iowa City School Board Forum

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- All nine of the candidates vying for three open seats on the Iowa City Community School District school board squared off in a moderated forum on Thursday night, telling voters about their visions for the future of the growing district. 
The biggest issues covered were the implementation of the district's new diversity plan, divisions within the community, and Governor Branstad's proposed education reforms. Much of the conversation came down to how the board can make the district a fairer learning environment for all students. 
When it came to the diversity policy, the candidates all said they supported the measure. How it would be implemented was a different issue. 
Incumbent Tuyet Dorau said students in low income schools are actually showing tremendous growth and can be a lesson to other schools. 
"So what are those teachers doing? We need to look at what those teachers are doing and what that administration is doing in those buildings, and build upon those," Dorau said. 
Greg Geerdes said diversity was tied to the district's construction of its newest schools, and they should be done strategically in order to optimize for income distribution among schools. 
"Built the Windsor Ridge school first, take advantage of your demographics, fix your diversity problem now," Geerdes said. 
The issue of whether or not to create magnet schools became tied to the diversity policy, as many candidates said specialized programs like fine arts or STEM concentrations could be a way to make schools more equitable by attracting students from areas across the district. 
Brian Kirschling and James Tate both said that magnet programs would have to start with teachers. 
"We can go to teachers and say, what would you be excited to develop curriculum for?" Kirschling said. 
And while all of the candidates thought, to some degree, that magnets could be positive, Sara Barron brought up the issue of access and fairness, and pitched the idea of sister programs at schools across town. 
"So that we could really, truly be offering magnet programming to students throughout our district," Barron said. 
Early voting is happening now through election day on September 10. People can vote early at the Johnson County Auditor's office on weekdays. Only 400 people in all of Johnson County have done so thus far. 
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