The Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 School Board has appointed Lance McDaniel to fill a vacant board seat for District A.
The board interviewed McDaniel and Tiffany Cheney in public for the position Sept. 18.
During the interview, McDaniel told the board he has a long-standing interest in public education and comes from a family of educators.
“I feel I could offer different perspectives and would be an asset to the board,” he said. “My goal is to support students, parents and teachers.”
McDaniel said he has been attending board meetings and previously campaigned for a 2017 ballot proposal to increase the mill levy for teacher salaries, technology and buses. But the measure was rejected at the polls.
Board member Jack Schuenemeyer said the board is in the process of improving community outreach to better understand local needs and concerns.
When asked how he could improve that process, McDaniel said his active role in the community keeps him informed, and he suggested hosting neighborhood coffee events to get feedback from parents about education issues.
More regular interaction between board members and city and county government agencies on school issues is also an effective approach, he said. McDaniel also serves on the City of Cortez Planning and Zoning Board.
McDaniel said student and staff safety is a priority and is a complex issue that gets the public’s attention.
“We have student resource officers, but there is always the issue of do you go a step further and have metal detectors and searches,” he said.
Bringing in different opinions and ideas should be part of the process of deciding tough school issues, “and I will add a different level of discussion,” McDaniel said.
How will you help make the board be more effective, asked board member Sheri Noyes.
“I can help build consensus and help communicate to the public what the board is trying to accomplish,” he said.
School board meetings are famously long and not always well attended, so as a board member, McDaniel said he would help spread the word.
“I am good at pushing narrative out into the public and to students, because a lot of people don’t know what all happens on the school board.”
McDaniel said he works well with people, but is not afraid to question, disagree and debate with school leaders on issues or policies.
“Discussion is very important, and I believe you need to go into them with an open mind to hear what other people are saying,” he said. “As a board, we don’t have to agree on everything, but different views are important to get out there.”
During the discussion of the candidates and silent paper vote, held in open session, board members said both candidates had strong qualities and interviewed well. McDaniel’s experience on education issues was cited as a deciding reason to choose him.
McDaniel’s appointed term is until November 2019, at which point he could seek election for a two-year term. He replaces Brian Balfour, who resigned.