School board lets former member finish his work

·3 min read

Dec. 5—The former president of the Newton school board did not earn enough votes to get re-elected this year but he will still serve the school district in some capacity. At the Nov. 22 school board meeting, the new roster of elected officials all agreed to allow Cody Muhs finish his work developing the district's goals.

Robyn Friedman, the newly appointed president of the Newton Community School District Board of Education, and fellow board member Josh Cantu asked Muhs at a past meeting about his interest in continuing to be a board-appointed facilitator that would work on the goals with the superintendent and his cabinet.

"I think it's pretty clear to anybody watching that Cody is a big motor behind that goal setting moving forward and setting the actual dashboard of that," Friedman said during the public meeting. "And he's really established a good rapport with the cabinet and has met with them a couple times."

Muhs did not feel comfortable with the previous board making that decision and instead wanted the action to be made by the current board — which has Liz Hammerly and Ray Whipple replacing Muhs and Graham Sullivan. Friedman said Muhs does have interest in continuing the work.

However, Cantu, who is also the vice-president of the Newton school board, said Muhs was hesitant to suggest he be allowed to continue his work. It was something Muhs was passionate about getting in place "before he even ran for the board," Cantu added, but he didn't want to do it only if the board was willing.

"I think he was at a decent place where it could be handed off if we needed to be handed off," Cantu said. "I certainly welcome all the help and support that we can get. I would be open to having his involvement continue. I've worked a little bit with him in developing this. So I wouldn't have a problem with continuing."

Friedman said by Muhs' estimates it would take about four weeks to have the spreadsheet of goals and how to measure those priorities ready for the board.

If the board was OK with it, Muhs suggested a current board member also be a part of the process so that he or she may transition into taking over that role. Cantu said it also does not need to be limited to just one person. Cantu would eventually volunteer to be the board member accompanying Muhs.

None of the board members objected to the idea. School board member Mark Thayer said he was in favor of letting Muhs still work with the district.

"I think Cody did a really nice job with the work on those board goals and he put a lot of time and effort in," Thayer said. "...And I like the timeframe. I don't want this to go on for, you know, six months or anything like that. But if we can get some type of resolution here in the next month or so that'd be awesome."

Whipple was in favor, too, saying Muhs was "doing a really good job" with the district. Hammerly noted Muhs has a lot of the background knowledge of the discussions that have already been had, which is valuable. School board member Travis Padget compared it to starting school in the second semester.

"To me, it's like learning loss when you change the leadership in the middle of the conversation," Padget said.

Friedman also praised Hammerly and Whipple for being present during the goals discussion at the previous meeting, which she said will help the process even further. The Newton school board voted 7-0 to let Muhs continue the district goals work alongside Cantu.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or

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