The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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September 4, 2013

Meet the candidates: Four eye 3 seats in Camanche

School board elections for the Camanche School District will be held Tuesday.

School board elections for the Camanche School District will be held Tuesday.

Four candidates will square off for three open seats, including incumbents Albert McManus, Mike Dunn and Dan Srp, and newcomer Larry McDonald.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The polling location is at Camanche Administration Center, 702 13th Ave. For immediate results from the contests, log on to ClintonHerald.com Tuesday.

Mike Dunn

Mike Dunn has dedicated 10 years to the Camanche School Board. He is now working to add another four years to that long-time commitment.

The part-time farmer and part-time CPA attended the Camanche School District from kindergarten until he graduated in 1976 and has now committed himself as an adult to giving back to his school.

“I am very proud of the school and of the community so whatever I can give back to them is a service I feel I can provide,” Dunn said.

During his time as a student at Camanche, Dunn participated in football, wrestling, tennis and choir. Although he is a strong supporter of athletics, Dunn’s commitment is now aimed to strengthening the fine arts programs in the district.

“I think fine arts adds to a well-rounded education,” Dunn said. “Sports are important, but not everyone is an athlete.”

For the last 10 years, Dunn has volunteered his time to the fine arts boosters to see those programs grow and prosper with all the other aspects of the school.

“Most of my time has been devoted to the school and making sure our facilities are in good quality for our students,” Dunn said.

But, as with any school district, Dunn and the board face many financial challenges when trying to improve the school and its facilities.

“With the state of Iowa not giving us a lot of extra money, we have to make sure that our budget is down,” Dunn said. “That is always a challenge.”

If Dunn is re-elected, he is ready to take on those challenges in order to improve the quality of education the students receive in the Camanche School District, he said.

“We’re always looking for ways to make the education for our children better,” Dunn said. “It’s a changing world so we have to make sure our education continues to evolve.”

In order to do that, the board tries to stay current on educational trends and provide their staff and administration with the financial resources and tools they need to grow.

“Even though we have a fairly new administration staff, I think they’re a great team and they deserve all the credit in the world,” Dunn said. “I’m very proud of our school district.”

Larry McDonald

Larry McDonald has spent the last 20 years working in the Camanche School District as a custodian and maintenance man, but after retiring last year, he has decided he is not ready to give up life in the schools.

He feels his experience with the district and its employees gives him a one up on the other candidates running for school board, and feels he will adjust well if elected.

“I won’t have any trouble feeling comfortable working on the (school) board. I have worked on boards before,” McDonald said. “Getting elected is going to be the biggest challenge.”

For McDonald, facing off against three incumbents of the Camanche School Board will not be an easy feat, but he feels his commitment to the community and his interaction with residents weighs heavily in his favor. McDonald moved to the city of Camanche in 1969 and has lived there ever since. Although he did not graduate from Camanche, all three of his children were a part of the district.

While his children were in school, McDonald volunteered with the athletic boosters as well as other organizations that are no longer available through the school. But, school organizations are not the only thing McDonald volunteers for in the community.

He currently belongs to the Kiwanis Club and in the past has worked with the Camanche Days Committee and the Bowling Association.

“I like doing things in the community and getting involved,” McDonald said. “I would like to be a part of the school board so I can work with kids and help to guarantee a good school year.”

McDonald understands there will be some challenges ahead of him but his prior experience working with the board as an employee of the Camanche School District will work in his favor, he said.

“I used to sit in with the board when I worked there so I know what to expect with financial decisions,” McDonald said.

If he is elected, McDonald hopes to work with the board on strengthening graduation rates by helping students learn what it takes to get a high school diploma.

“My main concern is working with the board to let kids know what they need to graduate,” McDonald said. “There’s nothing else that matters to me aside from giving kids a quality education.”

Albert McManus

Albert McManus has yet to experience a full term on the Camanche School Board but he’s hoping his campaign efforts this year will allow him that opportunity.

The Camanche native, who lives in the same house that he grew up in, has ran for the school board before, but has come up just short each time. He’s hoping that his year worth of experience will play in his favor for the upcoming election.

“Some of my challenges are learning from my experiences and adjusting to them and I’m getting better with that,” McManus said. “The older members have been really helpful.”

His desire to be on the board has remained the same since his first campaign and it continues to be his driving force.

“Both my kids go to Camanche so I like to be involved,” McManus said. “When they get to high school I want to feel like I had something to do with their experiences in school.”

But his kids are not the only reason McManus would like to stay involved with the school board. As the president of Camanche Junior Baseball, he is heavily involved with the children of the community and would like to make sure they have a quality education available to them.

“I know so many of the kids going into the district because of my work with junior athletics, so I am really invested in their future,” McManus said.

In an attempt to assure students a strong future after high school, McManus will dedicate his time with the school board to increasing graduation rates and working with at-risk students, something the board has been working on for several years.

“I would love to see graduation rates go up,” McManus said. “We have already started working on some things so I would like to be able to continue those efforts.”

In order to continue those efforts, McManus is hoping to be elected to the Camanche School Board again but if people feel there is a stronger candidate he is happy to step down.

“I’m in my early 40s so I can see myself being on the school board for a long time to come. I really enjoy it and I hope I can stay, but if people feel there is someone that can do a better job than me, so be it,” McManus said.

Dan Srp

Dan Srp has a passion for childhood education, so it makes sense that he is running for a second term on the Camanche School Board.

The Camanche native had originally tried for a seat with the City Council but because he lives just outside of city limits, a home he shares with his wife and three young children, he was unable to run. So, Srp did the next best thing.

“I feel like I have a lot to offer the community and residents of the district,” Srp said. “I wanted to get involved.”

When he’s not vying for a seat on the school board, Srp can typically be found at home with the kids as a stay-at-home dad. Most of his days consist of making baby food, teaching his kids about character and cleaning up a lot of messes.

“Dad is number one,” Srp said. “But a lot of my time is spent at school board meetings.”

Although his children are not a part of the Camanche School District yet, Srp’s desire to run for the school board a second time is to ensure they have a strong educational system waiting for them.

“I want to make sure it is heading in a positive direction for when they do enter the district,” Srp said.

After serving his first term with the school board, Srp feels he is now in a good place to continue his efforts to accomplish that.

“It took me some time to get comfortable with making decisions but I feel much better about that now,” Srp said. Now that he has conquered those issues, Srp is ready to take on a whole new set of challenges for his next term. One of those challenges in particular is the school board’s efforts at working with at-risk students.

“We need to continue to strengthen our efforts with the at-risk population, anti-bullying and suicide prevention,” Spr said. “We need to let people know that we are very supportive of those things.”

Another goal for Srp if he is re-elected is to help the community realize that being “good enough” is not acceptable and that they should strive for being the best.

“Our students deserve the best,” Srp said.  

In order to continue working for the betterment of the school and the students, Srp feels the school board needs to maintain the good working relationship that it has in the past.

“We’ve had a really good board that works well together. We need to continue to maintain good communication as a board and continue working well together,” Srp said. “We also need to encourage people to bring their concerns to the board and feel comfortable communicating the needs they want. It is all for the greater good of the school.”

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