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Cooper steps down

IOWA CITY– It was a short announcement at the very end of the school board meeting, but it could have a long-term effect on the board’s future decisions.
Board member Mike Cooper announced during the final moments of the Iowa City school board meeting Tuesday that he will be stepping down effective June 30.
Cooper, Vice President of National Services for Pearson, said he would still be able to maintain his current position while moving to Minneapolis to spend more time with family members who live there.
“I would have liked to have finished my term, but this is an opportunity to get closer to my family,” Cooper said.
Cooper served for a time as board vice president, and was a major part of decisions on recent controversial issues such as the closing of Roosevelt Elementary, the cutting of the district’s budget, the hiring of a new superintendent and the redistricting discussions that dragged on last year.
“I have appreciated the opportunity to serve Iowa City,” Cooper said.
Cooper was a two-time school board member, and there are roughly two years remaining on his second term.
Board president Patti Fields said by law the board must nominate who will serve in Cooper’s place until the school board elections are held in September. If the board does not nominate a candidate within 30 days of the announcement of a vacancy, district officials would have to hold a costly special election to fill the spot. Fields said it is likely that the board will choose to fill the position within the allotted time because of the cost of a special election and the short time period until the school board elections.
The candidate who is elected to Cooper’s spot this September would serve the remainder of Cooper’s term until 2013, Fields said.
Cooper said he was also disappointed his departure could lead to a massive board makeover this fall. Including Cooper’s spot, there will be five seats open for potential replacements this fall, as the current terms of board members Patti Fields, Toni Cilek, Gayle Klouda, and Michael Shaw are all set to expire in 2011.
Board member Sarah Swisher said it would be helpful if the person who is picked to replace Cooper is also interested in throwing his or her hat in the ring for the final two years of Cooper’s term.
“Hopefully it is someone who is interested in running,” Swisher said.