Tuesday, December 1, 2020

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Letter to the editor: Response to Graham Gillette

3/5/2020

With all due respect, the article written by Graham Gillette regarding Dr. Ahart and the new stadium (CITYVIEW, January 2020) was rather harsh and misleading. Graham did not present all the facts regarding the stadium. …

[Gillette stated]:

“The Des Moines school district has placed its once lofty aspirations to become a national educational leader on hold as it grinds into survival mode. By choosing to voice his plan to build a stadium, while remaining nearly silent about the problems festering in schools, Superintendent Ahart is failing to lead.”

Let’s be clear on who is responsible for the many problems students and educators are facing in our schools, it is Iowa’s Governor and Legislature and their lack of support and funding for Iowa’s educational system. Dr. Ahart is responsible for the educational needs of an extremely diverse student population plus the psychological, emotional and physical needs of the students in the largest school district in the State. If you don’t believe that, then you are out of touch with reality. I am perplexed on when Mr. Gillette wants Dr. Ahart to find the time to “rally the community and fellow educators across the state to find solutions and lobby Gov. Kim Reynolds and legislators to increase funding for education.”

The following is a quote from Dr. Ahart regarding the new stadium:

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“With five high schools, trying to attempt to have first-rate facilities and having to make an investment at five different sites becomes a financial burden for the district. This enables us to have one top-rate facility and then it will also free up the existing spaces for additional need. … The most exciting opportunity, I think for us is that we are going to have thousands of our students on a college campus on a regular basis … see themselves as taking concrete steps towards a future beyond high school.”

Dr. Ahart’s priority is the students, make no mistake about that.

I am not sure why Graham Gillette felt it necessary to defame Dr. Ahart, I wonder how he would feel if someone attempted to do the same to him. When do we stop attacking each other and find ways to channel our ideas in a more positive and successful way, what a great lesson we would be teaching our students.

In Graham Gillette’s opening statement he says:

“Iowa school districts cannot use sales tax dollars to pay instructors or professionals to assist with discipline and other educational support activities. State law mandates sales taxes fund capital projects-sales taxes pay for buildings, not learning.”

The Des Moines School District was given the opportunity to partner with Drake University to build a new stadium that will serve as the venue for DMPS high school and middle school football and soccer venue and much more. Ask the students how they feel about Dr. Ahart’s attempt to provide them with the best sports facility possible. It is an opportunity for a local university and the largest school district in the State of Iowa to join forces to serve their students, their No. 1 priority.
Thank you for your time.
Sincerely,
Nan Kloberdanz — a former teacher in the Des Moines School District

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