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Bettendorf teachers union backs board candidates

Bettendorf teachers union backs board candidates

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The Bettendorf teachers union has announced its recommendations for school board. They’re backing the two running incumbents, Paul Castro and Michael Pyevich, and newcomers Joanna Doerder and Rebecca Eastman. 

The six candidates — who also include Gary Goins and Mike Neighbor — are vying for four seats. The election is Nov. 5, along with city elections. 

Castro is a long-time board member, first being elected in 2000, the same year he retired from 29 years on the job as a Spanish teacher and football and wrestling coach at Bettendorf High School. 

Over the summer, Castro advocated for the district to reopen the base salary, after Megan Kannenberg, the former president of the Bettendorf Education Agency, said the bargaining group was frustrated about communications between the BEA, the school board and the administration.

“I’d like to thank them very much for their recommendation,” he said. “They supported me in the last election as well.”

Pyevich is running for his second term and was endorsed by the BEA in 2015, too. The orthopedic surgeon said in his board profile that he’d like to see a few projects “through to the end.” Specifically, he named the CTE program, a concurrent enrollment agreement between Scott Community College and Bettendorf High School, and finalizing plans for Edison Academy, an alternative high school. Pyevich did not return a call for comment. 

Doerder was a part of SIAC committee meetings and has been active in the Thomas Jefferson neighborhood. In her profile, she said she has been attending board meetings for five years, and she stressed transparency. Doerder did not return a message for comment. 

Eastman works as an Iowa Reading Corps master literacy coach and trainer in eight eastern Iowa school districts, including Bettendorf. The Iowa Reading Corps is a partnership with local United Ways. The statewide initiative aims to make sure all Iowa students are on track to read at grade level by the end of third grade. Eastman was not immediately available for comment.

Doerder and Eastman were both very involved in the movement to stop the closing of Thomas Jefferson Elementary, and then the push to rename the new elementary school, which consolidated Jefferson and Mark Twain elementaries.

Goins is a second grade teacher in Davenport. In his candidate profile, he said he wanted to use his experience as an “active educator” to help guide and lead the district. He also ran in 2017.

Occupational therapist Neighbor has served on the District Safety Committee, Elementary Facilities Advisory Committee and the Neil Armstrong Principal Search Committee. 

The BEA’s announcement of support came the same day 50 teachers and supporters wore “red for ed’” at the school board meeting. Five people spoke during the time allotted for the BEA report, led by President Mary Heeringa, to advocate for student and teacher safety, following incidents at the Middle School last week.


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