Editor's note: Here are responses to a questionnaire from the Dolores Educational Association from the final two candidates seeking seats on the Dolores School Board RE-4A. Responses from Dan Jones, Joye McHenry and Linnea Vass ran in The Dolores Star on Thursday, Sept. 26.
Why are you running for the school board?
I feel it is important to be involved in our children's educational process. As a parent of four children from four years old to sixteen years old, I have personal experiences at each level of education within our district. I feel that having had those experiences, and continuing to have those experiences, I can bring a level of understanding to the school board that can help us to continually improve the educational experience of our children.
What are your goals and priorities for our district?
One of my personal goals for the Dolores School District is to rebuild our reputation as a school that is welcoming. Our schools have routinely drawn students from outside our district boundaries because their parents want them to be in our schools. We need to recognize the commitment that those parents made and encourage their involvement in our processes, not discourage them. I believe that our number one priority during the BEST Grant construction is to continue to have an educational environment even while the physical environment will be constantly changing throughout the construction process.
What are the most pressing problems in our school district?
Completing the BEST Grant construction within budget and still obtain the improvements that the constituency voted for in the matching grant. We also need to do some healing and bonding within our community. There are still some very open wounds leftover from issues that were faced in the 2012-2013 school year.
What will you do to ensure that our district gets adequate local, state and federal funding?
Ensure that all requirements of the district are met in order to qualify for funding from all levels of government.
What is the role of online and home-schooling in our district?
I feel that online and home-schooling aid in filling a gap in education and helps to ensure that our children obtain an education, even if their lifestyles or circumstances keep them from being engaged in a "traditional" educational setting. Being the parent of two high school students who are in a "blended learning" environment, I feel that online schools offer different opportunities than what we can offer within the walls of our schools.
What ideas do you have for how schools should measure student achievement?
Measuring student achievement is a hard topic. I believe it goes beyond test results. I feel we need to engage students after they have graduated from Dolores and get feedback as to what can be done to better prepare our children for the "real world." Staying in contact with Dolores alumni throughout their college education, or even those who go directly into the workforce, can help us to understand what we have done well, and what we can do to improve in areas where the feedback directs us.
What role (if any) should our district take in recruiting students from other schools?
Our schools' reputation should be that we are welcoming and encourage those from outside our district to take a look at what is offered. We don't necessarily need to be proactively recruiting, but our reputation and student achievement results should be able to recruit on their own merits.
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?
Community: School board members are elected by the constituency to represent their wants and needs within the schools. Superintendent: School board members are the direct supervision of the superintendent. They should set the policies and goals that they wish for the superintendent to enforce. Principals: While the principals report to the superintendent, I feel that the principals should feel comfortable in bringing issues to the board and take input and feedback from the board in clarifying the direction that the schools should be heading. Teachers and support personnel: Teachers and support personnel should feel comfortable in bringing issues to the attention of the school board without fear of retaliation.
As a school board member, what kind of communication do you want with the Dolores Educational Association?
I would implement an "open door" policy that would welcome input and feedback from all personnel within the schools. If the school board is not aware of a situation, there is nothing that they can do to help improve it.
How will you work with teachers and staff during salary and benefit discussions?
I will do my best to address requested items within salary and benefit discussions while keeping a close eye on available funds within the budget. We have to be responsible and maintain reserves while still improving the salary and benefits of all school staff.
What is your stance on Amendment 66? Why?
I feel it is important that the state increase funding to education. I do not know that this is necessarily the best way to increase that funding. With that being said, I intend to vote YES on Amendment 66, as that is probably the best short-term solution to education funding within Colorado.
How do you plan to communicate with the community?
I feel that the "Community Forum" sessions will be a good way to enhance communication between the community and the school board. This should not, however, replace the ability for community members to speak before the board at regular board meetings.
How should the School Board respond to community concerns?
Understanding that there are certain issues that cannot legally be discussed outside of executive sessions, I feel that the school board needs to address community concerns sooner, rather than later, to avoid any unnecessary "boiling" that leads to extended discussions, and what can sometimes be a small issue becomes a huge roadblock to any constructive meetings and creates distractions within the learning process at the schools.