Craig Moffat County School District Board of Education candidates got a chance to present their positions to the public at a forum held at Moffat County High School on Thursday night. The event was moderated by the MCHS speech team.
They covered a wide range of issues, including Amendment 66, standardized testing, the challenges Moffat County School District faces, declining enrollment and the relationship board members should have with school staff. Ten of the 11 candidates were there; Christine Balderston, District 6 incumbent, could not make it to the forum.
Each candidate had different goals and focuses.
“No. 1 is financing. It’s a real different situation for us, especially when we have declining enrollment,” said James Loughran, challenger for District 4.
But District 7 incumbent Lawrence Sober said it was important to get better Internet and technology into the schools.
“We have to do something toward improving our technology,” he said, while enriching existing programs like Understanding by Design, which was launched a year ago within the Moffat County School District.
Funding played a central role to the conversation. With Amendment 66 on the ballot in the upcoming election, many candidates referenced it or the possibility of a new funding structure.
“I think we have great teachers in place, but sometimes, they don’t get the resources they need,” said Michele Chalmers, challenger for District 2.
District 5 incumbent Joel Browning said the amendment would be a positive boost to the school district.
“I like that it begins to restructure how funds are distributed across the state,” he said.
Patrick Germond, challenger for District 4, disagreed and said that it was a method of state control.
“It’s a vehicle to have control over everything. It’s a sheep in wolf’s clothing,” he said.
But Amendment 66 would be a crucial step to making sure Moffat County School District got the funds that it needed, said Sue Voloshin, challenger for District 2.
“Our current funding structure is inadequate for our school district,” she said.
Another hot topic was testing.
“We’re not scoring at the level we need to be. We need to aggressively address that,” said Darrell Camilletti, challenger for District 6.
Charity Neal, District 7 challenger, said testing was a regular part of life, so it should be embraced.
“Our test scores are not where we need them to be. We have to embrace that testing and the testing process our kids go through with a positive attitude,” she said.
Hiring of a new superintendent also took up a good portion of the conversation.
“Test scores, funding, enrollment: They all should be high priority,” said KC Hume, challenger for District 7, but finding a new superintendent should be the board’s top priority.
“There are superstars out there. We need to find them to run our schools,” Germond said.
Board members would be in positions where they negotiated salaries with teachers, so candidates were asked how they would handle negotiations.
“As a board, we can't be afraid to say what’s on our mind when we need to make a change,” said Tony Peroulis, challenger for District 4.
Browning said he was encouraged by his previous experience negotiating.
“We’re working to hear both sides and find a positive solution,” he said.
Mail-in ballots will be sent out Tuesday.
Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.