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Six running for seats on CCA’s School Board

Introducing Eileen Schmidt, Jennifer Mooney, Matt McAreavy, Brian Hosford and Jeff Tackaberry

OXFORD– The Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Community School District will see changes in its School Board of Directors in the wake of the Tuesday, Nov. 5, elections as board members Terry Davis and Steve Swenka are not seeking reelection while incumbent Matt McAreavy will face Brian Horsford, former board member Eileen Schmidt and Penny Schnedler in a contest for two at-large seats. Board member Jennifer Mooney is running unopposed for reelection to her District 1 (Amana and Oxford) seat while newcomer Jeff Tackaberry is running unopposed for the District 3 (Tiffin and rural Oxford) seat currently held by Swenka.
All candidates were sent a series of questions, and their responses are printed below.
Eileen Schmidt is seeking election to an at-large seat on the CCA school board. She previously served on the board for eight years from 2009-2017. “My life is my two sons, a sophomore, and an eighth-grader taught within the district, and my husband, Jim. In 1998 my husband and I established our residence in Tiffin, unaware of the school district at the time. A decision that we do not regret through the positive involvement of growth and challenges.”
Jennifer Mooney is currently the board vice-president and was elected in 2015. Mooney and her family have lived in Middle Amana for 12 years with three daughters who currently are, or have previously attended CCA from elementary through high school. Currently she teaches at Kirkwood Community College with a focus on adult education.
Matt McAreavy currently occupies an at-large seat on the school board and was appointed in January of 2015 to replace Kevin Kinney, who resigned after being elected to the Iowa Senate.
“I have spent my entire 50 years of existence in the Clear Creek and or Clear Creek Amana school district,” he said. “I grew up in Oxford and now reside in Cosgrove where my lovely wife Jody and I raised two boys, Keyan (CCA class of 2015 and currently a student at Drake Law School) and Kaden (CCA class of 2019 and currently a freshman at the University of Iowa). I am a facilities mechanic at the University of Iowa.”
Brian Hosford is running for an at-large seat and has lived in Amana for 25 years with his wife Holly and son Connor. He is currently employed with Pearson Education in Iowa City. “I grew up in a military family and have lived all over the world, but knew after visiting my wife’s family’s farm that Iowa was where I wanted to live and raise a family. My path to college required a detour with an enlistment in the United States Air Force (USAF) as my family could not provide financial assistance for a college education. My time in the USAF turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.” Hosford holds an AA degree in computer science, a bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics, and a Master of Science in project management as well as a Ph.D. in information technology.
Jeff Tackaberry is running for the District 3 seat and has lived in the district for five years in Tiffin, but has had students in CCA schools for nine years. A native of Decatur, Ill., he graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Olivet Nazarene University in Pastoral Care in 1993. While there he met and married his wife Amy, and later earned a master’s in organization management (also from Olivet). He served as the founding pastor at Heartland Community Church (now Parkland North) in North Liberty in 2000, and began a real estate career in 2003. Tackaberry has also served in various brokerages over the past 16 years. “I am thrilled to announce that I am in the process of beginning a new partnership real estate firm in Tiffin (NextHomeCorridor) that will be launched this fall.”

Why are you running for election to the school board? If an incumbent, why are you seeking reelection?
Schmidt — “The reason I am seeking election is, I have a passion for the Clear Creek Amana School District. I want to be involved with the challenges that we face for the children and community of Clear Creek Amana.”
Mooney — “My motivation for running for the school board is my passion for quality education, including individual needs, and growing community involvement within the district. Additionally, the desire to learn, grow and evolve as a CCA school board member is a personal motivation.”
McAreavy — “I am seeking reelection because I believe Clear Creek Amana is a great district but has not begun to reach its full potential. Over the last six years I have had the pleasure of working with some outstanding people on some challenging issues that concern our district. I would love the opportunity to continue to have a positive influence on the direction in which it grows.”
Hosford — “I feel that my education, business background at Pearson Education and military service could be an asset to not only the board and teaching staff, but also the students in seeing education as a life long journey that is not always straight road.”
Tackaberry — “I am running as a District 3 school board candidate as I believe I have a good perspective from several angles living in the community. I have two daughters, Jenna and Mikayla, who are graduates of CCA High School, and my youngest daughter, Haley, is currently a junior. I have had several folks ask why now when my children are at the end of their high school days? I believe we should give back, and the best perspective to do so is when you have little personal agenda or gain from positions you take on the board. The betterment of individual families and the communities CCA serves is my highest value. I look forward to an opportunity to serve my constituents with unbiased views but with a strong desire to see our district continue to have the healthy growth our core values demand.”

What skills, experience, and background do you bring to the Board table?
Schmidt — “As a previous elected official of eight years, I have had the opportunity to serve in each critical position on the district’s board of education. I have also had the privilege of working first-hand within the district, as a substitute teacher for preschool through 12th grade. This experience gave me a better understanding of the challenges that take place within the walls of the education system and the future challenges that we may soon face.”
Mooney — “During our time in Middle Amana, I have had the opportunity to teach and volunteer within various schools in the district.”
McAreavy — “I come from an education minded family. My father, Tom, was principal at Clear Creek and then Clear Creek Amana. My grandfather, J.B., was principal at Oxford before the formation of Clear Creek and my sister Mary was a long time principal in the Iowa City School District. Growing up I was exposed to the ins and outs of public education and think I can continue to contribute a great deal to answering the challenges of our district.”
Hosford — “As a member of the school board I would bring skills in leadership, critical thinking, problem solving, project management, contract negotiation, and technology. Over the past 25 years with Pearson, I have leveraged these skills to develop understanding between business, education, and technology leaders at times acting as a translator between the three fields to simplify complex issues to garner consensus.”
Tackaberry — “I tend to have a healthy ability to envision long term results. Having founded a non-profit organization working with paid staff and volunteers to accomplish unified objectives, I hope to lend leadership on the lay level. In addition, my background in pastoral care speaks to my desire to see every child and every family receive the healthy educational opportunities afforded to them. In addition, I hope to encourage my sphere of influence to stay involved and work with administration, teachers, and staff to continue to make our district a great place. My background professionally in real estate, land acquisition, contractor management and building could be an asset to the district with needs with land and facilities as we grow.”

What do you see as the greatest challenge, or challenges, facing CCA?
Schmidt — “The greatest challenges that this district faces is the balancing act of educating our children and the continuous growth as people continue to move in the community because of the education that is offered at CCA. Education is the top priority in a growing school district that is not stopping anytime soon.”
Mooney — “Our district’s greatest challenge is proactively managing the rapid growth.”
McAreavy — “The coming years will surely bring a variety of challenges. Most all of these challenges will be rooted in our tremendous growth. Although our growth is exciting and creates a great opportunity to expand our curriculum and continue to offer an excellent education to a larger and more diverse student population, we must remember to do it in a responsible manner. It is important to me that we are fiscally responsible and can justify our actions. Just because we can does not always mean we should.”
Hosford — “The greatest challenge that CCA has is student population growth. Meeting the needs of this growth has required the CCA school district to be in an almost constant state of funding requests and construction. While the CCA community has supported funding increases, statutory debt limits may become a hindrance for future funding needs, which will require unique solutions to meet future growth.”
Tackaberry — “Our greatest challenge, as well as our greatest opportunity, is no doubt the population growth we are currently facing as a district. To foster education excellence in the midst of this growth will require an aggressive vision, strong leadership, and the collective insight and wisdom to chart a course that honors our past accomplishments, holds true to our present values, and dreams big for the good of a future generation.”

What would be your proposed solution, and as one voice on the board, how would you garner support?
Schmidt — “The proposed solution is to hold accountability in addressing the issue or issues through research, documentation, and deliver a strategic plan identifying the phases for the steps of success with the situation.”
Mooney — “My top three priorities to help guide our district include: planning for and supporting district growth, supporting district staff with the physical resources and ongoing development needs, continue developing a culture where staff and students can perform at the highest levels and community involvement is encouraged. Our district’s greatest opportunity is to be a district that sets the standard for excellence in education.”
McAreavy — “I believe that as we face these challenges we try and maintain that one on one connection our students have come to expect. If we continue to be forward thinking when it comes to maintaining quality facilities, I am confident we will be able to keep our class sizes down and our test scores up. It is important that as we try and maintain that "small community" feel we strive to afford our students the expanded opportunities that come with large school resources and budgets. As a board member I think I do a pretty good job of voicing my opinion while respecting those of my colleagues. I have tried my best to stand firm when necessary but find common ground when possible. At the end of the day I think we all want what's best for the students and what’s best for the community.”
Hosford — “I would propose leveraging the modular architecture the board has designed into its facilities before looking to build new schools. Building consensus has been a major part of my day-to-day efforts at Pearson Education. I believe facts, logic and reason, compassion, and flexibility are excellent tools when working with diverse groups.”
Tackaberry — “Building a team environment that listens and respects the opinion of each member is foundational. With so many diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and opinions, consensus can only occur in an environment when both wisdom and humility are sought. I have found that no one ever gets everything they want, but with a collective focus on our mission and a unified purpose, positive outcomes are possible.”

What is your assessment of the district overall, and how do you think you can benefit it by being on the board?
Schmidt — “Clear Creek Amana School District is a great district with areas for improvements. Over my previous eight years of service on the board, I have discovered challenges, and it’s in the district’s best interest to face these challenges and problems head-on, by coming up with the best possible solution to solve them. As an elected official of this district, my reaction will come with an understanding of what is taking place through listening, evaluation, and decision-making. The action and knowledge will not stop at me, my voice will deliver factual information in the decision-making process, for the best interest of our children and the community of Clear Creek Amana.”
Mooney — “My vision for the district is continued support for all administrators, teachers, associates, and support staff. I intend to accomplish this through sound financial decisions and creating and supporting meaningful policies in a way that provides an environment that our students thrive both educationally and interpersonally.”
McAreavy — “I have always been proud to come from this community and think CCA is a district we can all take pride in. We must continue to meet challenges head on and never settle for what is easy. As we grow, I am excited to see just how far this district can go and look forward to watching our graduates go out into the world and put their own positive mark on it. All I can say is I love this district and its people. GO BOATS!!!!!!”
Hosford — “The CCA school district has done a fantastic job meeting the growing needs of the community. My experience and knowledge within the education and technology industries would benefit from knowing how the District environment balances the needs of students, teachers, and community with industry and technology advances.”
Tackaberry — “I have found in the greater CCA district to have strong leadership in our district superintendent, great administrative and staff across the district, and wonderfully gifted, caring, and giving educators. I am grateful to live in a district that values tradition and the past, but chooses to be forward looking in the present so as to achieve great things in the future. Even as we face the challenge in an ever growing school district, I am confident we can build an even better tomorrow for our children, grandchildren and beyond. I hope to benefit the district by being open-minded, critical in thought, compassionate in my listening, and unbiased and wise in decisions made as a representative for district 3.”
Penny Schnedler’s responses had not been received as of the deadline for this issue, however they will be printed in an upcoming edition of the North Liberty Leader.
Voters in the district are able to vote for all board seats, and at-large members may live anywhere in the CCA school district. Members elected to district seats, however, must reside in their director district. A map of the director districts can be found at https://www.ccaschools.org on the Board of Education page.