Meet your school board candidates: Part 1

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— Elections for the Moffat County School District Board of Education will be coming up in the next several weeks, and with five seats on the seven-member board open, the race is on for 11 candidates to fill the positions. At least two of the seats will be filled by newcomers with board members Sandie Johns and Karen Stillion term limited.

The Craig Daily Press sat down with five of the candidates to get an idea of why there’s so much interest in the campaign this year. The newspaper also will be running the remainder of the candidate profiles in the Sept. 28 Education section.

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Christine Balderston

Christine Balderston, 52, incumbent for District 6

Resident of Craig/Moffat County for: 14 years

Current job or employment status: Self-employed

Personal education: Bachelor of Science in microbiology and BS in medical technology from Colorado State University

Experience with local education: “I have four years of experience on the board, and I’ve been involved on the budget committee and hiring committees. I’m also a member of the Legislative Resolutions Committee with Colorado Association of School Boards.”

What inspired me to run (or run again) for the school board: “The children. I try to be a good advocate for them. These are our future leaders, and it’s important that they learn what they need to know so they can go on and learn more.”

One area where the school district needs improvement: “A lot of people say the test scores, but that’s just an easy answer. There’s so much that goes into all the different things of who’s standing in that classroom teaching those children. I think we’ll see some real positive numbers from our Understanding By Design program, but since I’ve been on the board, our budget has been cut by the state 30 percent, and every year we try to do more and more with less and less. I think we just need to get effective teachers in front of the kids and the scores will come, is what I’m hoping.”

One area where the district is doing well: “Our leadership. We’re in a transitional year with Joe (Petrone) leaving and we need to find a great superintendent to come in and share their wealth of knowledge. Joe and (Assistant Superintendent) Brent (Curtice) have both been a great asset to us, and they’re both interested in the kids and doing what they need to for them. We’re all working toward the same thing and that’s a great education for these kids.”

The reason you should vote for me: “I’m a hard worker, and I’ll continue to do all the things I’ve done out there, advocating for our district, make some noise when we need to and do the best job that I can.”

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Michele Chalmers

Michele Chalmers, 45, challenger for District 2

Resident of Craig/Moffat County for: Four years in October

Current job or employment status: Occupational therapist for Moffat County School District

Personal education: BS in occupational therapy from University of Washington

Experience with local education: “I have four kids, three in the school system, two at Ridgeview, one at the middle school and a preschooler at Eagle’s Nest. I have been a member of the Ridgeview PAC (Parent Advisory Committee) and was president for two years, and I was a member of the District Accountability Committee. I’ve also been affiliated with the youth track meet in the spring and in bringing the Missoula Children’s Theatre here.”

What inspired me to run (or run again) for the school board: “I believe education is the future for our kids and they need to be prepared for their next endeavor. It all stems from education and I want them to have the best one possible. I feel I can make an impact on the school board.”

One area where the school district needs improvement: “I think they need a clear direction and unification between all the schools, especially elementary. I think they’re going that way with the UBD program, and I’d like to see that continue. I also hope that the high school will prepare kids for the next step in their life, whether it’s college or a job.”

One area where the district is doing well: “They have a good concept with UBD, and they’ve increased their community awareness for the schools, as you can see in 11 candidates for the school board. They’re really focusing on the kids.”

The reason you should vote for me: “I feel very passionate about the schools and the education of our kids.”

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KC Hume

KC Hume, 46, challenger for District 7

Resident of Craig/Moffat County for: “My entire life, except for college.”

Current job or employment status: Lieutenant and operations chief with Moffat County Sheriff’s Office

Personal education: Associate degree in criminal justice from Arapahoe Community College

Experience with local education: “I have two children in the school district, a son in fourth grade and a daughter in kindergarten. I was affiliated with Colorado Northwestern Community College as adjunct faculty and for two years I was the program director and academy administrator for the Criminal Justice Academy through CNCC with the Craig campus and Rangely campus.”

What inspired me to run (or run again) for the school board: “Quite simply, it’s the fact that both my wife and I are products of the Moffat County School District. We gained our educational foundation in this community, and it allowed us to each individually go out and seek higher education and gather the information needed to be successful. Now that both of our children are deeply entrenched in the district, I think it’s important to give back and my goal is to ensure that all the individuals that make up the student body have the very best educational opportunity available to them.”

One area where the school district needs improvement: “Communicating with the public in Moffat County.”

One area where the district is doing well: “The school district and the staff have been great at monitoring student achievement to measure areas of success while acknowledging deficiencies and developing improvement plans that have measurable goals and outcomes.”

The reason you should vote for me: “In any endeavor, I dedicate the time and resources that are necessary. I have a long-term tie to Craig and Moffat County both with my family when I was growing up and my family currently living here. Given those things, I have only the best interests of our students and the community at the forefront.”

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James Loughran

James Loughran, 64, challenger for District 4

Resident of Craig/Moffat County for: “Off and on for over 40 years.”

Current job or employment status: Retired teacher, currently owns a landscape business

Personal education: BS in social studies and master’s in education with an emphasis in reading from Colorado State University

Experience with local education: “I taught here for 27 years, and I taught six years in Windsor. I have four kids who are all college graduates. I have also served on the Colorado Northwestern Community College board for three terms. I’m also chairman of the board.”

What inspired me to run (or run again) for the school board: “I feel that education is very valuable. I’m term limited at CNCC, so I wanted to take my expertise and put it into the school board. It’s a good time to get involved — there could be five new members on the board and we’ll have a new superintendent, and I feel community service is important.”

One area where the school district needs improvement: “I probably feel like most of the teachers feel about the grading system (through the Department of Education). I’m not excited about the idea that we have F schools or schools that are not performing. I think we have a lot of good examples of our education system. I don’t have a hidden agenda. I just want to see how I can help us get away from this negativity. I know there’s good teachers doing a good job.”

One area where the district is doing well: “We have good teachers who go in there and give it their best every year.”

The reason you should vote for me: “I have the experience and the expertise. After I retired I was in the corporate structure working for a company called Daktronics, selling scoreboards and message centers to every school in Wyoming and along the Western Slope. I never was out of education, and I know where all the good schools are and what they’re doing.”

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Lawrence Sober

Lawrence Sober, 66, incumbent for District 7

Resident of Craig/Moffat County for: Eight years

Current job or employment status: Former truck driver with AmeriGas Propane, now retired

Personal education: BS in business management from University of Phoenix and Project Management Certificate from Villanova University

Experience with local education: “I’ve been on the board for two years, and if I’m re-elected, this term will be another two years.”

What inspired me to run (or run again) for the school board: “I think we’ve done a lot of positive things, and I’d like to see us continue in that direction.”

One area where the school district needs improvement: “I’ve heard that some people believe we should deplete our capital reserve funds, and I don’t agree with that. We have so many issues that we need to save that money for.”

One area where the district is doing well: “We’ve only been in our program Understanding By Design for one year and it takes three years to totally implement it, but we’re headed in the right direction with curriculum alignment and everybody’s one the same page.”

The reason you should vote for me: “I have two years experience and a business management degree so I know about financing, and by being on the board I know some of the issues we’re facing with funding.”

Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

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