Citing the enthusiasm and growth that the district has over the last several years, the current Waverly-Shell Rock School Board president wants to keep things going for another four years.
Kelly Flege will be seeking her third term on the board during the combined municipal and school board election on Nov. 5. She has served on the board for eight years, six of them as the board’s leader, representing District 2, which includes much of the northwest quadrant of Waverly and part of the adjacent rural area.
When Flege joined the board in 2011, the district was basking in the glow of the opening of the new middle school, which replaced the old junior high and the torn down Washington Irving Elementary School and currently houses fifth- through eighth-grade students.
Although she wasn’t on the board when the bond issue for the middle school passed, she was a co-chair for the committee that promoted it.
“The excitement around the opening of a new school within the district (was present),” Flege told Waverly Newspapers in a phone interview Friday afternoon. “The early years of my (time on) the board, too, was the construction of the new entrance at the high school, that also allowed a safe room to exist at the high school. We’re pretty fortunate as a district to have two safe rooms throughout the district, in the middle school and the high school.
“We’ve done a lot to enhance our facilities across the district — outside of the middle school — without having to do really significant new construction, and really continue to provide a great learning environment for our students and our teachers.”
She added that the district has also greatly improved its financial standing during her time on the board.
“We’re on great pace to reduce some of our debt ahead of schedule,” she said. “Certainly, the financial strength of the district is key as to how they’re able to continue to run their operations.
“We’ve got great staff throughout the district. As new requirements have been placed on school districts from the state level, we’ve had to grow our employment group, and we’ve been able to do that because of our financial situation, we’ve been able to meet the broad needs that our students present, whether that be additional academic or additional counseling or additional specialists in the classroom or the special needs requirements.”
Flege said one of the challenges for W-SR is one that many school districts probably wouldn’t complain about, and that is the growth in enrollment.
“That’s a great thing, but that also challenges us to (look at) the boundaries of our facilities and how do we continue to make improvements to our facilities and continue to be able to have the space to accommodate the needs that were seeing, whether it’s through natural growth within the Waverly-Shell Rock community or as a result of open enrollment into the school district,” she said.
“There’s always the challenge and opportunity from the school district to think about the broader challenges that we see happening in society as a whole and make sure we’re continuing to provide a safe and secure environment for our teachers and our students and all of our employees. I don’t think we face any imminent threats, but we need to make sure we have safety and security in the forefront, and any training that goes with that.”
Flege believes one of the key roles of a school board is to hire and support the superintendent of the district, as well as support the rest of the administration, faculty and staff.
“From my perspective, one of the goals is to continue to be able to support the needs of our students and teachers and staff,” she said, “and then to continue to strive to be the best we can be, and not just meeting the needs, but how best we can do it to serve all of our students.”
Flege and her husband, Bill, who have been married for 26 years, have three sons. Their oldest, Nick, a 2014 W-SR graduate, currently lives in Northern California and works for Facebook.
Their second son, Christian, is a cadet first class, or senior, at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, where he’s majoring in mechanical engineering. Flege said her son will learn of his assignment within the Army in November but is hoping to get an assignment to fly helicopters.
Youngest son Ethan is a senior at W-SR and is involved in multiple sports and activities.
A Cedar Falls native, Flege graduated from Columbus Catholic High School in Waterloo and received her bachelor’s degree at Boston College in 1989 and earned her MBA from the University of Iowa in 2009.
Currently, she works as a vice president at Lincoln Savings Bank in Waterloo, where she has been for just less than a year. Previously, she was with the University of Northern Iowa for nearly 20 years, most recently as assistant VP of finance and operations and the university treasurer.
Flege said that Waverly and Shell Rock are outstanding towns to raise families.
“I worked in Waverly when my husband and I first met,” she said, “so I think it’s a great community to work in, and it’s a great community to live in, even if you don’t work in the area.
“We have outstanding businesses, we have an outstanding school district, which I think continues to attract people, either to live in the Waverly or Shell Rock communities or own businesses to come to either and grow their footprints within the state.”
She added the social and entertainment possibilities are plentiful, from the offerings here to what’s available in Waterloo and Cedar Falls.
“There are things all around the Northeast Iowa region that are all within pretty easy reach,” Flege added. “We’re in great proximity, whether its Chicago or Minneapolis or St. Louis or Kansas City or the Des Moines area that creates opportunity to partake in those activities that we might see in those larger cities without it having to require significant travel.”
She said the potential for the district is unlimited.
“I think that we have a great group of teachers and administrators and support staff throughout the district who are very committed to the students that they are serving,” Flege said. “They are very engaged with what they are doing and want to provide those kids the best education and the best TLC, that they can.
“We are a very attractive school district for people to want to work in, which makes the hiring opportunities, when they’re available, great, because it increases our ability to attract the most qualified individuals to serve the students. I think there is no limitation of what we’re able to do. We’re going to have to address how we’re going to be able to accommodate a growing number of students over the years and what’s the best answer for that.”