School News

SchoolBoard Special Election Results

School Board Special Election Results

Results of the Urbandale School Board Special Election are as follows:

  • Daniel Gutmann = 1,192 (55.96%)
  • Steve Avis = 936 (43.94%)
  • Write-in = 2 (0.09%)

We thank both candidates for their dedication to UCSD students, staff, and families! #weappreciateU

On Tuesday, July 12, 2022, a Special Election will take place in order to fill the board vacancy of Judy Downs. The elected candidate will fill the remainder of Ms. Downs’ term which runs through November 2023. The following two candidates submitted nomination papers and will appear on the Special Election ballot.

Vote! School Board Special Election: July 12, 2022

  • School Board Special Election is scheduled on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. Polls open 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.
  • Precinct information
  • Voter registration: Voter Registration Deadline: June 27, 2022
  • Absentee Voting By Mail: Voters must request a ballot. The first day Absentee Ballots will be mailed is June 22, 2022. The last day to request a ballot by mail is June 27, 2022.
  • Absentee Voting at the Polk County Election Office: Located at 120 2nd Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50309; Monday through Friday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Closed July 4, 2022); First day for absentee voting at the election office is June 22, 2022. The last day for voting at the election office is July 11, 2022.
  • Selecting A School Board Candidate: 5 Key Considerations


School Board Candidates For July 12 Special Election

In an effort for the community to learn more about those running for school board, UCSD asked both candidates three questions. Their individual responses are posted below exactly as provided to the District. The District, by sharing these responses, does not endorse any candidate, nor does it attest to the accuracy, or inaccuracy, of any of the statements made. These are solely provided as information into the opinions and perspectives of those candidates who responded.

We requested both school board candidates respond to the following three questions:

  1. How will your experiences as a leader support your work on the UCSD Board?
  2. What do you believe are the most pressing issues facing the District?
  3. How will the UCSD Mission and Vision guide your work as a leader in the District?

Enjoy learning more about each candidate and save the date to VOTE in the upcoming School Board Special Election on July 12!


Steve Avis

Steve Avis site(1) How will your experiences as a leader support your work on the UCSD Board?

From my early leadership experience as a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force through my 24 years of experience as a licensed Certified Public Accountant, I have had to guide and lead others through both difficult and positive experiences.  While the difficult experiences are the most challenging to navigate, maintaining a “can-do” attitude throughout has served my co-workers, clientele, and myself very well in the end.  I have learned the importance of treating one another with respect and maintaining positive interactions, even when difficult decisions must be made.

What You Can Expect From Me:
The Golden Rule.  I have been taught to treat others the way I would expect to be treated.  If all of us could just follow this one rule, we could be much happier and find consensus much faster.  As such, I will conduct myself professionally and respectfully with those in the Administration, other Board Directors, and especially with those for whom we serve – the parents and children of the UCSD.

I will ask questions – and lots of them.  It’s in my nature.  If information provided prior to each Board meeting is missing or requires further clarification, it is incumbent upon myself and any other Board member to ask “Why?”  For example, if the purpose of a significant expense item is not clear from either the expense reports or from Board discussions, as a steward of the public trust, you can expect me to ask for more clarity.  We must be comfortable with how resources are allocated and demonstrate that responsibility during public meetings.

Transparency is the hallmark of a great leader.  Upon giving full consideration to all sides of an argument, I will provide the reasoning for my vote.  The voters deserve nothing less than to know the basis for our votes.  Full and open deliberations during Board meetings must take place to provide the public the reasoning for the Board’s decisions.  Although Board Directors serve in a volunteer capacity, we are accountable to the voters of the UCSD.

Voting abstentions do not indicate strength in leadership.  Unless due to conflicts of interest, or unforeseen emergencies, myself including all Board members should attend meetings well-prepared to vote.  To do so otherwise is to disrespect the Administration and Board members that have done the preparation required for meetings.

Solid work ethic.  It has been stated that the typical School Board Director can expect to work anywhere from 10-15 hours per week on Board business.  During different stages of my career, I’ve had to work anywhere from 60-70 hours per week due to the seasonal nature of my business.  You can be assured that I will devote the preparation time necessary to prepare for the Board’s meetings.

Unwavering resolve.  I will not be intimidated by any individual, political party, or groups of individuals.  I will base my votes upon input from the parents and children of the UCSD, other Board Directors, and the Administration.  Although my vote might may not align with others on the Board from time to time, I will still be open, respectful, and collaborative with those having opposing viewpoints.

Conflicts of interest.  I am not a vendor or service provider receiving compensation from the UCSD, its employees, or any Board Director. I am not a member of the Urbandale Education Association, Iowa State Education Association, or the National Education Association, and as such, will not receive endorsements from the same.  Moreover, in my capacity as a Board Director, no conflict of interest would arise from interactions with any union association.My independence assures the public that because I have no conflicts of interest, I can make sound decisions as a result.

(2) What do you believe are the most pressing issues facing the District?

School Security.  The Board Director position includes many critical responsibilities, most importantly, the security and well-being of all students and teachers. I look forward to planning and executing the vulnerability risk assessments of our school buildings in the District, as part of a larger school safety plan announced by the Governor on June 14, 2022. I believe there is nothing more important than the physical safety of our students and teachers.

Parental Choice.  Children thrive best in an academic environment when parents, teachers, and administrators collaborate and listen to one another with an open mind.  A team approach, where teachers and administrators take into account a parent’s valuable input, and where parents take into account the educator’s view of the student’s educational environment, is essential to ensuring that it is our children that are the number one priority in our District.  As a Board Director, I will make parental involvement a priority within our school district and to listen to parental concerns and to provide feedback when needed.

Teacher Retention.  We must continue to focus on the reasons for teacher shortages in our District.  Often cited in the media include stagnant salaries, disciplinary issues, and difficulties in both parent-teacher and teacher-administration relationships.  As a result, we must take a holistic approach in determining a suitable solution for this problem.

Proficiency Scores.  While many of the District’s proficiency scores hover around the state averages, the 2020-2021 UHS Proficiency scores in mathematics, listening, and reading are well below state averages.  The Board must ensure that the Administration takes action in setting new goals and adhering to a performance plan to attain those goals.  Accordingly, the Board must also be open to supporting the Administration and allocating resources to improving these scores as well.  We must find ways to meet or exceed these averages to ensure we’ve adequately prepared our children to flourish in a post-high school environment.

(3) How will the UCSD Mission and Vision guide your work as a leader in the District?

The UCSD’s Vision statement includes that “Urbandale will be a school district that brings learning to life for everyone.”  In my opinion, “learning to life” enunciates less reliance on computers and more reliance on teachers in bringing the learning experience front and center between teacher and student.  In a time when so much of a child’s time is spent on their phone or computer, some children lack the personal communication skills so vital in today’s workforce.  It is my opinion that providing an increased focus on teacher-student interactions should be stressed by our District.

The UCSD’s Mission statement describes thatThe District shall strive to meet its overall mission as stated by “Teaching All-Reaching All.”  But what about those students considering careers in welding, auto and diesel mechanics, plumbing, or electrical work?  In order to get an idea of whether one or more of these careers might interest them, a UHS student must jointly enroll in a DMACC course – just to get an idea of whether or not that trade might be a good fit.  Thus, the student needs to incur the commuting time and costs only to find out in some cases that it was simply not a good fit for them.  UHS should consider other alternatives such as additional vocational classes to their curriculum so that students can experiment with a wide variety of trades before graduating high school.  These are just a few examples of how the school can do much better to “reach all”.

Contact Information:


Daniel Gutmann

Daniel Gutmann siteFriends of Urbandale Schools,

I have spent my career working with children from all different backgrounds and abilities. As a teacher with my reading, social studies and instructional strategist endorsements, and currently working towards my talented and gifted endorsement, I have the necessary experience to help move Urbandale Schools forward. Prior to teaching, I served in the children’s mental health field; supervising therapeutic classrooms contracted with West Des Moines, SE Polk, Newton, and Ankeny school districts. I’m proud to be endorsed by teachers in the Urbandale Education Association. I serve on the board of directors for Iowa Safe Schools. Above all I am an advocate for public education and these experiences have led me to the following conclusions:

  • Our school environment should reflect the diversity in our students and families.
  • We must ensure our instructional and support practices address the needs of all learners. We can lift all students without tearing anyone down.
  • Data should guide Urbandale Schools. Our data must be transparent, relevant, and actionable. This will improve overall student outcomes.
  • The structure and administration of Urbandale Schools must be efficient, effective, and accountable if it is to best support students and staff.
  • We need to effectively recruit and retain staff. Our ability to teach all kids is dependent on having well qualified adults in our schools.

I am a proud teacher, and as the only candidate working in a school, I can guarantee I bring to the board a thorough understanding of the issues facing Urbandale Schools and how best to build a leading district in our state.

Daniel Gutmann

Contact Information:
Facebook: Elect Gutmann