Name: Rod De Haai
Occupation: VP, Midwest Heritage Insurance
1. Please introduce yourself and explain why you are running for school board.
I’m a native of Monroe and a proud graduate of the class of ‘88! In 2011, I moved back to town with my family, mainly because we wanted our children to go to PCM. We knew they would get a good education and have the opportunities that a school our size allows. It was one of the best decisions we’ve made. My wife Cathy, son Parker, and daughter Lucy love living in the PCM community. I have served as a School Board member twice, only stepping down in 2019 because we moved into a different representative district. Thank you for electing me in 2022. I’m happy to be back to work for PCM.
For the past 11 years, I have worked at Midwest Heritage Insurance Services, overseeing our company’s operations. In my role, I work daily with budgets and finances and have a strong understanding of not only the importance of creating and working within a budget but also the strategies an organization can use to operate more effectively within their means. During my time on PCM School Board, I’ve leveraged this experience to help support initiatives brought to the table by administration.
I believe public schools are the heart of our communities. They go hand-in-hand with successful businesses, higher property values and overall strong communities. In the past year, parents have been given more choices of where their children attend school. We are in a position to not be just one of the choices but the BEST choice. As a school board member, I will continue to be an advocate for public schools and fight to ensure PCM’s enrollments grow in the months and years to come.
Finally, I am running because I am a dad. I understand that PCM parents are deeply concerned about the education their children receive because I live this as well. Since Parker started preschool in 2012, I have witnessed the educational and facilities improvements our District has made. I’m proud to have played a small role in this as a school board member. If re-elected, I am committed to providing the support and guidance our staff needs to keep getting stronger while operating within our budget. I’m not just on the board for the students in our buildings now; I want to make PCM a strong district for generations to come.
2. What’s the best quality of PCM schools? What can the district improve on?
It’s my belief that PCM is the best school district in central Iowa. Right now, we have one of the strongest school staffs in Iowa, from the teachers to administrators to bus drivers and kitchen staff. We’ve worked hard to ensure that what is taught to our students is not only relevant but leading in the state. Some of our programs and staff have been recognized and modeled by other districts, which is when you know you’re doing things well. I look forward to board meetings when students, teachers and staff share what they’re doing. It’s truly uplifting and inspiring.
Beyond the school walls, our district is special because we have an amazing, strong community to support our students. You can see it at our games, plays, concerts, fundraising efforts, etc. Our students are successful because they have a network of people who truly care about them and their success. We also have a strong history of graduates choosing to live in our communities just so their children can attend PCM. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. As a school board member, I’m dedicated to moving us forward while celebrating our traditions.
I feel our district can improve and needs to improve in two areas: 1. advanced educational opportunities, 2. upgraded and improved facilities. We’ve made great strides in both areas, but a lot of work remains ahead.Our administration is constantly looking at ways we can get better and presenting those initiatives to the Board. The PCM district will continue moving forward if the focus is on our future.
3. What challenges do you see in public schools and how to you propose to address them?
Recent school choice legislation makes things more challenging for public schools. Public schools are highly regulated, unlike private schools, who are now receiving public funds that have traditionally gone to public schools.In my opinion, we should continue investing in what’s been started over the past three years to be prepared for the negative impact of the new law. We’ve aligned grades and resources to keep class sizes low with the priority on quality education. Our administration has attracted fabulous new teachers to the district and increased wages for first-year teachers, with more work to be done there. It’s important that we’re proactive in our approach and don’t sit back with a “wait and see” attitude. We have great leaders running our district and they are developing a plan to make PCM even stronger in the coming years. Following their lead and working with them to execute our vision will ensure PCM is the choice for parents/kids who live within our district.
4. Where would you like to see PCM grow?
I’d like to see growth in advanced vocational programs. Our district is positioned near several major employers in nearby towns. There is an opportunity to partner with these businesses to provide pathways to employment for PCM students. These programs would potentially require new or upgraded facilities, but also a great investment in the future of kids who attend PCM.
5. What is a parent’s role in the educational system?
I feel the role of the parent is to support their student in navigating all that school offers. We provide guidance to our kids on classes or activities, question them about their grades and assignments, make sure homework assignments are completed and address any concerns we have directly with their teacher through email or parent/teacher conferences. We’re also present to support our kids in all their extracurricular activities.
6. What other school issues are you most passionate about?
I’m passionate about making PCM one of the strongest public schools in central Iowa.The kids in our district deserve great educational opportunities, as well as quality fine arts and athletics.