Here are responses to a questionnaire from the Dolores Educational Association with candidates for the Dolores School Board RE-4A. Responses from candidates Stan Mannis and Rick Carpenter will appear in next week's Dolores Star:
Why are you running for school board?
I have learned so much during my six years as a school board member. The district has invested in me by allowing me to attend the annual CASB (Colorado Association of School Boards) convention each fall. I greatly appreciate this opportunity, and wish to give back to the community I live in. I enjoy involvement with the Dolores School District, its staff and students. Through the challenges and changes in the district, I look forward to assisting in focusing our schools in a positive direction.
What are your goals and priorities for our district?
The hands on priority is to begin the BEST grant construction project and keep within the budget. Oversight goals: Support all staff and students to the best of my ability.
Improve academic excellence and student engagement. Lead the board discussion to evaluate where we are and plan the next goals on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) and 21st Century Skills. Ensure our teachers and students have the tools for academic success so a student can continue on to the military, workforce or college. Maintain a healthy fiscal budget and reserves. Monitor gender academic gaps and RTI (Response To Intervention) success. Retain Montezuma County Sheriff's Office School Resource Officer. Respectful dialogue at board meetings. Increase eligibility for all students. Sustain PLC (Professional Learning Community) and Professional Development for teachers. A smooth transition into the new teacher-principal evaluation. (Senate Bill 191 defines evaluation requirements for teachers, principals and specialized service providers.)
What are the most pressing problems in our school district?
BEST grant construction project and safety for students and staff during construction. Improve academic achievement and monitor RTI. Strive for efficiency with teacher-student ratio.
What will you do to ensure that our district gets adequate local, state, and federal funding?
Have regular dialogue with the financial officer and superintendent especially during budget time to keep a pulse on finances. Our financial officer, Karen Andrews, has always been diligent with informing board members of state budget uncertainties throughout the year. Continue membership in CASB (Colorado Association of School Boards). Some CASB employees are lobbyists for Colorado school boards and regularly speak to elected officials at the state level. Send our board delegate to Denver for important voting sessions. Determine if resolutions are beneficial for our district before voting on them. Write to our state and county elected officials to support funding for schools. Assist in seeking new grants. Encourage the community to shop locally. Vote on Amendment 66.
What is the role of online and home-schooling in our district?
The most important issue is that a student gets an education and is ready to continue onto the military, workforce or college. In a diverse world, we need diverse alternatives for students in education. Online, home-schooling and SWOHS (Southwest Open High School) offer students who may, or may wish not to attend public school the opportunity for academic success. Support of these students by the community and public education is critical. Students who wish to seek alternative education benefit from access to our on-campus sports and activities.
What ideas do you have for how schools should measure student achievement?
The methods of measuring student achievement is alphabet soup now. I do not want to add anymore. I seek to better understand and learn about assessments currently used now.
What role (if any) should our district take in recruiting students from other schools?
I don't believe we need to recruit. We attract students by our reputation. Our principals strive for low class sizes.
What do you believe is the role of a school board member in relationship to the community? To the superintendent? Principals? Teachers and support personnel?
Board members are elected for oversight of the district. I work for the community, superintendent, principals, staff and students to: Ensure the budget and reserves are fiscally sound and funds are spent appropriately. Review district policies followed by all district employees, students and visitors. Provide one-on-one availability. Communication is critical for building trust and respect in relationships. The superintendent is the only employee of the board of education. Good communication between these two parties is critical. The superintendent offers information and advice concerning issues the board must act on. A board member reviews the information, asks questions and evaluates and decides how to vote. Board members need to support all staff and students to the best of their ability.
As a school board member, what kind of communication do you want with the Dolores Educational Association?
The DEA (Dolores Education Association) is one of many information sources. I would like to hear from the DEA at board meetings monthly, every other month or quarterly. I would like to hear its concerns and ideas. Possibly, if approved by the DEA, a board member could visit one of its meetings. I believe open and honest dialogue is important.
How will you work with the teachers and staff during salary and benefit discussions?
Benefit and salary discussion will include the financial officer and current status of the budget and what the state and county is projecting to do with it's funds. I support dialogue with the teachers as a whole, or with a committee formed by the teachers representing all four schools.
What is your stance on Amendment 66? Why?
I will support Amendment 66 for public education. Our children are our future, and we need to invest in them. We are engaged in a global workforce and our children need education for this competitive world. A typical median income in Montezuma County is approximately $52,000. Amendment 66 would cost about $10 per month. The median household income is $57,000 per year in Colorado, which is about $11 per month
How do you plan to communicate with the community?
I visit often with our diverse customer base. I maintain an open-door policy at the Dolores Food Market. You can also reach me at 882-3045. I attend school functions and local festivals as often as I can and am available there or at work for the community.
How should the school board respond to community concerns?
If a concern comes before the board, acknowledgment of the concern needs to happen at that time. The board may not be able to come to a decision at one meeting. The board may have questions directing administration to research information prior to making a decision. If that is the case, then the topic should be revisited in the next one to two meetings. However, prior to that, the citizen(s) need to follow the proper chain of command. The concern needs to be addressed to the closest party to the incident first, and then progress up each step in the chain of command, before communicating with the board. Many issues can be addressed and resolved prior to speaking to the board.