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Townsend appointed to ICCSD school board

Board announces listening posts for redistricting

IOWA CITY– Technical difficulties prevented Iowa City School District (ICCSD) School Board President Chris Lynch and Superintendent Steve Murley from direct participation via telephone during their Tuesday, July 22, business meeting.
Orville Townsend Sr., appointed unanimously to the board during a special meeting July 21, was sworn in and seated to attend his first meeting since his previous service on the board in the 1980s.
The board heard a presentation from Diversity Focus, the mission of which is to lead in the promotion of diversity, cultural awareness and inclusion in the Corridor community.
They also set a schedule for a school board listening post tour of the district from Aug. 13 through Sept. 8, to engage members of the community about attendance area development.
Townsend is an Iowa City resident who served on the school board from 1986 until 1989. He retired from a career in vocational rehabilitation, and currently serves on a number of boards and commissions, including the Iowa Black Alumni Association board of directors, the Sixth Judicial District Department of Corrections board of directors, the Iowa City Human Rights Commission, the Coalition for Racial Justice, and the Black Voices Project.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Iowa where he first enrolled in 1962, to pursue a college education and to play football on an athletic scholarship.
Townsend was employed by Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services for 42 years, and supervised the Iowa City office for 25 years until his retirement in 2010.
He is married to Billie Townsend, has four children, and seven grandchildren. On his application to the school board, he indicated he would not run for re-election to the board when the term he is completing expires in 2015.
The first order of business after seating Townsend was to hear a presentation from Diversity Focus Executive Director Chad Simmons.
Diversity Focus invited the district to join them, West Wind Education Policy, and others in an effort to create an environment in regional schools and communities where every child could be successful.
“We would like to work with the school board, and the schools, and the district leadership, to do three things,” said Simmons. “Develop a focused and pro-active strategic plan that sets the vision for the district and lays out smart goals toward achieving the plan; participate in the multi-regional equity improvement process; and develop a plan for long-term sustainability.”
Simmons sought to work with the district during the coming month and present a plan at the next school board meeting. The board deferred and placed the item on their next meeting agenda for a discussion.
They directed Murley to coordinate with Simmons on a potential project.
Pursuant to previous discussions of the community engagement process for the attendance area development, a series of school board listening posts was discussed and planned. Members of the public are encouraged by the school board to attend some or all of the meetings.
In other business, the board approved the regular board meeting and committee meeting schedule for the 2014-2015 academic year.
They also approved items on Appendix 9 of the facilities master plan, including a change order in the amount of $8,800 for Penn Elementary.
“We are required by the City of North Liberty to make some improvements and also upgrade some fire alarms,” said Duane Van Hemert, district physical plant director of the requested change orders.
Board approval of Appendix 9 items was unanimous.
The next school board meeting is scheduled on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at 6 p.m.