Where Carlisle School Board candidates stand on masks, diversity, more


The Carlisle Community School District faces some of the same challenges and opportunities Indianola, Norwalk and Cumming face – growing.

The real growth in enrollments was followed a year later by an increase in financial support from the state. Growth can therefore create management challenges related to facilities and personnel.

Six candidates are running for three vacant seats on the Carlisle School Board. Joshua Appletoft is listed as a candidate but has dropped out of the race for personal reasons.

Polling stations are open on November 2 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Do you care a lot about a particular topic? Go here:

Editor’s Note: Thomas Barr, Jill Erzen and Samantha Fett could not be reached for comment. Candidate responses have been edited slightly for clarity and length.

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Who is a candidate for the Carlisle School Board?

John Atkin

Age: 41

Desired office: District # 2 School Board

Where they grew up: Des Moines, Iowa

Past political experience: Nothing

Hillary Blackford-Gardner (incumbent)

Hillary Blackford-Gardner

Age: 49

Desired office: District # 1 School Board

Where they grew up: Iowa and Colorado

Past political experience: I am currently the Principal of District 1 of the Carlisle School Board. I have volunteered for several local, state and national campaigns over the past twenty-five years. I have served as a constituency captain several times and worked on several election sites.

Jeramie Eginore (incumbent)

Jeramie Eginoire, Carlisle School Board

Age: 44

Desired office: At-Large School Board

Where they grew up: Monks Quarter

Past political experience: I was elected to the Carlisle School Board as At-Large Director in 2017.

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I am in favor of a mandatory mask warrant in the event the district infection rate tends to increase. I like to take a proactive approach to problem solving – trying to stop the spread quickly, keeping students and staff safe.


Right now, based on voter feedback, I am not in favor of a mask mandate. Last month, we asked our parents and district educators about masking and received over 1,700 responses. Although I personally saw a wide range of opinions, the majority were against a mandate. We are currently monitoring COVID-19 cases in the district closely: if we see a spike or a significant change, I will recommend reviewing our current protocols. I am aware of the handful of students who cannot attend classes in person at this time; however, my main goal is to keep our students in our buildings.


At our special board meeting on September 21, I voted to keep our plan consistent with how we had successfully started the school year at that time: with masks highly recommended, but not mandatory.

My vote was based on community feedback, feedback from school staff, feedback from the school administration, review of our current infection and absenteeism rates and, finally, my own. convictions.

If there is a large spike in numbers or if our situation changes, I would be more than willing to come back to the subject. Until then, my vote would remain to keep the masks highly recommended, but not mandatory.


I believe that students should learn about other cultures and groups that differ from them and how to respect the choices and opinions of others with which they may not agree.


I believe our educators encourage critical thinking when presenting our students with D&I related topics. Giving students the space to share their lived experience while listening with an open mind and heart changes perspectives. I believe listening and empathy is how the needle is moved when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Our community embraces the growth it has experienced over the past two decades and is not afraid that our students and educators will learn to grow with the diverse makeup of the community. I am convinced that our educators know best how to navigate these conversations within the constraints of current legislation.


I don’t believe critical race theory has a place in the classroom. I am strongly opposed to teaching CRT – besides, it is illegal in Iowa.

That said, there is a huge difference between teaching CRT and encouraging mutual respect. A lesson presented to me for review encouraged students to consider other perspectives, to judge others based on character rather than skin color or other differences, and to learn to know people who are different from them.

I am 100% opposed to CRT but I am 100% in favor of encouraging the concepts mentioned above.


To me, parental controls mean that parents need to have a say in what happens in the school district. The difficult part of balancing community needs with individual interests is that someone will always feel like their voice is not being heard. Sometimes doing the right thing for your community means going against popular opinion.


For me, parental control is a parent’s commitment to the educational experience of their children in partnership with their school (educators, administrators, school board) with the common goal of doing what is best for their student. When I balance community needs and individual interests, I always listen to, seek out and solicit input from community members with different perspectives – at every building, through the opinions and families of children with different perspectives. varied experiences and needs. This is a difficult balance that should be considered by the board rather than by an individual.


This is a topic that I have helped our district navigate through the last few difficult years.

Fundamentally, finding a balance between freedom and health / safety is a time-honored challenge. If society wants more freedom and control, it will sacrifice safety and security. If society wants more safety and security, it will sacrifice freedom and control. Balance is important.

All situations and communities are different. The key is to listen to those you represent while considering the big picture with the information provided.


I think the groups of students who need academic help the most would be students with special needs and minority students. I think the district could hire more teachers and staff to help these students be more productive and give them the attention they need.


Due to educational challenges and losses due to COVID-19, all groups of students need increased academic and social support; we have deficits everywhere. However, I think the SPED (special education) student group should always be focused on high level concentration. For our district in particular, the district should continue its efforts with families and in the classroom to deal with these extraordinary circumstances. Our district’s current approach of overlaying team collaboration, data analysis and individualized interventions is most often successful. I support the adjustments made over the past year to meet these needs, such as the increase in academic support labs.


Determining which group is most in need of tutoring at a particular time requires constant monitoring and attention. Our school management does a great job providing updates on progress. Wins and deficits can change from year to year. Those with special needs or taking an IEP, those who are identified as “at risk”, those who achieve an expected level of performance from their grade level and those who are considered “advanced” receive the appropriate level of support. from some wonderful experts in their respective fields.


My main problem is trying to make the Carlisle school district more competitive with the surrounding districts. I would like to see more funding and a higher salary for our teachers. I think if we had the opportunity to attract more teachers and staff, it would benefit our students in the long run. Make teachers eager to apply in our district and help us make Carlisle the benchmark that other districts are modeling.


As a non-partisan seat, I think it’s important not to approach this position for just one issue. On the contrary, if I was re-elected, my priorities would remain to consider under-represented students, to welcome diverse experiences and reflections, to support public educators and to work collaboratively with community and district stakeholders. . Outside of this position, I work in marginalized spaces, so an agenda is often imposed on me. However, I do believe that it is essential for myself and for others who are looking for this position to be objective and to make decisions using critical thinking, looking at all angles and current data.


School districts are complex organizations. Education is a multifaceted concept. I cannot limit myself to just one “major subject”. Being a board member is more complicated than the hot topics at any given time. When he was first elected, collective bargaining was controversial. The issues change – my focus on our students and staff will not change.

Concentrating on controversial topics while ignoring the bigger picture is dangerous for the students, staff and the community I serve. Some may run because they disagree with a decision about masks (either side) or to lash out on someone they might be having trouble with.

Teresa Kay Albertson covers the southern suburbs of Des Moines for the Register and the Indianola Record-Herald. Contact her at [email protected] or 515-419-6098.

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