Moffat County Board of Education 2015 Election Guide | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County Board of Education 2015 Election Guide

Craig Daily Press Staff Report

District 1 — Darryl Steele, Maybell cattle rancher and Moffat County commissioner, 2000 to 2004

1) What do you believe needs to be done to address the budget deficits faced by Moffat County School District year after year?

I believe that the current budget could be cut to bring it into balance. In almost every government entity, there are levels of bureaucracy that can be eliminated without adversely affecting the output of services, in this case, the education of our children, which is of number one importance. Unless it can be proven to me that this budget cannot be cut to balance, I am against any mill levy increase. It is imperative that the board and the superintendent work together to make these cuts with a scalpel and not an across-the-board cut.

2) What do you believe should be the role of technology in the classroom? Should technology be a spending priority for the district or not, and why?

Currently, there is a large amount of money being spent for iPads for each student, money that increased the budget deficit. I would not have voted for this expenditure, but would have explored other less expensive alternative such as technological infrastructure for each classroom, use of smart boards, or use of regular computers shared by students. Any expenditure would need to fit into the balanced budget.

3) What are your priorities for the school district for the coming year? For the duration of your four-year term?

If elected, I would have four main priorities:

Recommended Stories For You

A. Make and maintain a balanced budget while keeping at least a 30-percent budget reserve.

B. Work to increase the test scores of students, which are currently well below state average.

C. Work to provide a quality education to the students of Moffat County. This would be the board's job and my goal.

D. Research into the ramifications of Common Core and try to eliminate the adverse elements.

4) What is your own experience with public education and how will that experience serve you as a school board member?

I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Colorado State University. Four generations of my family have gone to school in Moffat County with another generation getting ready to start. I am not a professional educator, but intend to rely on those that are for advice in that part of my board responsibilities. The expertise I bring is my experience as a county commissioner in cutting budgets to the balance point and maintaining a conservative, common-sense fiscal policy. I have been on many boards in Moffat County and have years of experience in bringing boards together to achieve goals.

District 1 — Amy Shaffer, Hunting consultant, small business owner, Olympic athlete

1) What do you believe needs to be done to address the budget deficits faced by Moffat County School District year after year?

The budget for the 2015-16 year has already been adopted by the district. I will investigate the items which historically push the budget into deficit, and collaborate with the rest of the board and administrators to reduce or eliminate the excess. As parents and taxpayers, we can all relate to personal budgets needing flexibility due to unforeseen circumstances, but when this happens we must also trim fat from the other areas to stay within our spending limits. I would rather the district be fiscally responsible or explore other funding options than impose a mill levy increase.

2) What do you believe should be the role of technology in the classroom? Should technology be a spending priority for the district or not, and why?

Though it's very important for our children to be exposed to and utilize technology as a supplemental learning tool, I believe it's equally important for them to receive a solid foundation in the basics through traditional methods. Life's answers in the real world are not always a "Google" click or an "app upgrade" away. Our spending priorities should be on instructional aides that will be available to benefit all kids, and not overly burden the district budget or require more "busy work" for our educators. As school board members, we must acquire feedback from our stakeholders, then proceed in the direction that provides the best results.

3) What are your priorities for the school district for the coming year? For the duration of your four-year term?

My only agenda is to be an effective education advocate and contribute fresh energy, perspectives, and leadership to this district. I will focus on learning current issues, policies, and procedures. With four new board members, it's vital for us to collaborate as a team and rely on incumbent members and stakeholder feedback to guide us. I am confident we can effectually address the ongoing concerns of fiscal responsibility and student performance, while also rewarding and retaining excellent teachers. As an Olympic athlete and small-business owner, I am no stranger to hard work and challenges, and I look forward to being a motivating force on this board.

4) What is your own experience with public education and how will that experience serve you as a school board member?

I have two daughters attending schools in our district. I, too, grew up in a rural community, so I understand the benefits of being raised in a small town while also facing the challenges of integrating into a fast-paced world. I give credit for my life's successes to the great teachers who influenced and motivated me through the years. I want our educators to be inspired and utilize their individual talents to best instruct the future leaders of our society. As a board member, I also become a mentor by being a positive role model for our kids and serving this district with a daily civic commitment to excellence.

District 1 — JNL Linsacum, Finance director for Hayden School District

1) What do you believe needs to be done to address the budget deficits faced by Moffat County School District year after year?

The main source of revenue is student growth. I'm impressed with the work of the district to receive half-time funding for home school students and the effort to pull in more alternative school students. We need to market our school district by letting people know the "success stories" of some of our graduates as well as current highlights and events. The district has little or no control over the school finance formula and with state budget cuts to education, it doesn't seem that the state can or will help. While the district has a healthy fund balance, we can't keep spending into those reserves. We need to start now educating the public about the need for additional funding.

2) What do you believe should be the role of technology in the classroom? Should technology be a spending priority for the district or not, and why?

I feel that it is very important to provide our students with the tools to be successful in the future. Technology is being used extensively in every job across the country. Vocational students as well as college-bound students need to be proficient in technology. My son recently graduated from college and he never printed and turned in a paper other than electronically. Also, when a road grader went down at the mine, the mechanic spent the day on a computer to repair it and never picked up a wrench. The district will be saving money on text books, copy machines and cases of paper. Those things add up to a lot of money!

3) What are your priorities for the school district for the coming year? For the duration of your four-year term?

We need to always strive for improvement! We have excellent teachers and administrators that are experts in their fields. I feel strongly that the board should be committed to working together towards the following goals:

• envisioning the community's education future

• assessing and reflecting the educational needs and values of the community

• establishing school district goals

• overseeing the school district budget

• adopting operating policies

• advocating on behalf of students and schools

4) What is your own experience with public education and how will that experience serve you as a school board member?

I have worked for the Hayden School District for 29 years and as the finance director for 18 years. Having worked through budget cuts and declining enrollment, I understand the challenges that our district is facing. I want to help with the process. I have attended monthly school board meetings during my tenure at Hayden School District and I understand the roll of a school board member. Also, my husband was a teacher for 30 years and I have two sons and a daughter-in-law that are teachers. I know that our staff is committed to our students. I want to be an advocate for staff and students.

District 1 — Neil Folks, President of Moffat County Fuller Center for Housing, grief counselor and chaplain

1) What do you believe needs to be done to address the budget deficits faced by Moffat County School District year after year?

Do away with the unfunded mandates and help the community seek new ways of funding. Become engaged in resourcing.

2) What do you believe should be the role of technology in the classroom? Should technology be a spending priority for the district or not, and why?

Yes, technology is a priority. Once a child learns the basics of learning the old-fashioned way, and learns that technology is an extension of the mind, technology opens up a wonderful world of exploration to it. Technology is our world's future that's already here and the child must be trained to use it as a tool to remain competitive in the world of employment.

3) What are your priorities for the school district for the coming year? For the duration of your four-year term?

(1) Be actively engaged in reducing unfunded mandates; (2) keeping high quality teachers — a child's future depends entirely on a good education which is attained by a good teacher as well as parents helping and a budget that reflects this relationship. Salaries and cost of living need to be in step with this process, and matching the industry scales to keep them aboard; and (3) helping the profession to become a respected institution equal to or more so than the fields of professional sports and doctors.

4) What is your own experience with public education and how will that experience serve you as a school board member?

I remember my experiences with public education during my formative years. My first experience with MCSD started in 1970 when my three children attended their first eight years in Browns Park. Two of the three went through high school here in Craig. I've attended many board meetings over the years and frequently engaged in them on behalf of Browns Park. Over the last two years, I 've attended almost all of the board meetings and workshops. I've experienced the changing philosophy of the community towards their school system and set through the development of the last two budgets and felt the pain along with the staff and teachers of the declining resources. In summary, even in times of scarcity, there is abundance.

District 3 — JoBeth Tupa, President of Sunset Elementary School Parent Accountability Committee and volunteer

1) What do you believe needs to be done to address the budget deficits faced by Moffat County School District year after year?

Only through a reduction in expenditures and/or an increase in income will the ongoing budget deficit be resolved. As with any budget, the first action must be to prioritize spending. Any expenditure that does not directly benefit student learning and the basic operation of the district is optional. It means making some tough cuts. The board has a responsibility to make those tough decisions and be financially transparent, before asking the people in this community to pass a mill levy increase.

2) What do you believe should be the role of technology in the classroom? Should technology be a spending priority for the district or not, and why?

Technology is critical to education today and should be incorporated into all areas of our academic programs. But, technology is a vast field and expensive to maintain and update. We need to ensure that we are not adding technology for the sake of technological advancement and that we have the training needed to really understand how to use it as a tool for advanced learning. There must be a specific need and plan, and the question we must always ask is, “what is the learning goal for students?”

3) What are your priorities for the school district for the coming year? For the duration of your four-year term?

Should I be elected to the school board, I will work with the other six members to help the district achieve a higher level of educational success. A top priority toward that goal is to work within the budget to equip our educators with essential classroom materials and resources so they may efficiently and more effectively elevate the educational experience of our children. My priorities for the next four years will be creating a positive connection between the community and school district, true financial transparency, and the resources our students and educators need.

4) What is your own experience with public education and how will that experience serve you as a school board member?

I received a rural Colorado public education, my children are students in MCSD, and I have worked extensively volunteering in classrooms and varied community outreach projects. I have seen the needs of our students and teachers. I understand the current changes facing public education, and the challenges created by the evolution. We have eager students, enthusiastic educators, and a strong desire to achieve educational greatness. I want to play a role in setting MCSD up for success.

District 3 — Travis Linsacum, Utility technician at Trapper Mine

1) What do you believe needs to be done to address the budget deficits faced by Moffat County School District year after year?

As a school board candidate, I believe we need to go to the voters for financial help. We are in a desperate situation and we need more money for our children's education. As a member of this community, I believe we should implement a sales tax increase and mill levy. Our school district is grossly underfunded. If we want our children to receive the best quality education possible, we have to get involved financially and help make that happen.

2) What do you believe should be the role of technology in the classroom? Should technology be a spending priority for the district or not, and why?

Technology should absolutely be a spending priority in our school district. If we don’t get technology into the hands of our children now, they will be behind when they go off to further their education. Technology is an essential resource used in every job, therefore we must teach kids how to use the technology not only as a tool, but as a resource to gain the information needed to collaborate, problem-solve and critically think. We have to give our children the tools they need to be successful.

3) What are your priorities for the school district for the coming year? For the duration of your four-year term?

It is my priority to unite the school district and the community to the school district mission and vision to, "Achieve a common purpose, develop clear measurable goals and provide children opportunities to build the future of their choice." We must become a united voice working towards preparing our students for the future. I will listen to my community and come to understand its values and concerns alongside devoting time and energy to be in the schools learning the vision, goals, successes, challenges and opportunities. It is also a top priority for me to address the budget problems we are facing. This will require us to pull together to help our children get the education they deserve.

4) What is your own experience with public education and how will that experience serve you as a school board member?

I am a proud graduate of MCSD along with my two brothers and two of my cousins. My father taught and coached here for over 20 years. My wife, Sara, is an instructional coach for the district. My cousin, Tanner, and his wife, Britney, are teachers for the district. I am very proud of my family for believing in this community and the future of our children. They give me an interesting perspective into the lives of educators and our students. I admire the work and endless hours they give as educators, coaches, and leaders. If elected to the board, I am committed to spending time in the schools and classrooms to continue to learn about the public education system.

District 5 — Jo Ann Baxter, Retired MCSD teacher, former school board member

1) What do you believe needs to be done to address the budget deficits faced by Moffat County School District year after year?

The school board and the staff need to study the budget, the budget process and engage in the Smarter School Spending program. This program centers on aligning resources with areas of greatest impact on student achievement (smarterschoolspending.org). As part of the process, the district needs to look at all spending and revenue to determine if cuts are necessary and make those cuts as far from the students as possible. In all decisions, the needs of our students should be at the forefront and we need to recognize an increase in a sustainable revenue stream may be necessary.

2) What do you believe should be the role of technology in the classroom? Should technology be a spending priority for the district or not, and why?

Technology should be an integral part of classroom instruction. Technology cannot take the place of the classroom teacher nor should it interfere with the delivery of the curriculum. The district should prioritize the technology that will best aid and improve instruction and achievement based upon applicable research. Another concern is the need for training our teachers on effective use of the technology. Before supporting making technology a spending priority, I would need more input from teachers and administrators.

3) What are your priorities for the school district for the coming year? For the duration of your four-year term?

My first priority is to promote public school education in Moffat County, to point out the things we are doing well and to be instrumental in publicizing those accomplishments. I also recognize "there is no hope for the satisfied man or woman" and I will work to make Moffat County schools better. In the next four years, two areas I will address are retention and recruitment of highly qualified teachers and more vocational programs and job readiness instruction for those students who are not immediately continuing their education.

4) What is your own experience with public education and how will that experience serve you as a school board member?

I am a retired Moffat County High School teacher. While teaching, I earned a Master of Arts and a doctorate in educational leadership. As a teacher leader, I served in numerous leadership positions. After retirement, I served on the Moffat County Board of Education for eight years (four years as president). While on the board, I served on the Colorado School Board Association's Legislative Committee and on the State Council for Educator Effectiveness. I believe these experiences allow me to understand the needs of students and teachers as well as the role of the Board of Education in the educational process.

District 7 — Charity Neal, Director of public health at Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association

1) What do you believe needs to be done to address the budget deficits faced by Moffat County School District year after year?

I believe the most important step in addressing budget issues is to clearly define priorities and then weigh each expense in relation to the priorities. The less aligned an item is with the top priorities of an organization, the further down the chain it moves as a funding priority. The idea that it is okay to submit a budget above expenses is unacceptable – no successful household or business runs that way.

2) What do you believe should be the role of technology in the classroom? Should technology be a spending priority for the district or not, and why?

Technology should be driven by classroom teachers. Before any item is presented as an educational priority, all classroom teachers should be surveyed and given appropriate and un-judged opportunities for feedback. After that, all funding requests should be held to the prioritization process and expected to result in increased student outcomes.

3) What are your priorities for the school district for the coming year? For the duration of your four-year term?

First and foremost, we must put students back at the beginning of each and every conversation we have in regards to the district. Students, not staff, administration or parents need to be the primary decision making criteria. We need to openly and honestly address why good teachers are leaving our district each year and why overall employee satisfaction seems to be down. This may mean utilizing outside resources. Every staff member educating our students should have the easy access to voice their opinions about fundamental and functional changes (curriculum, technology, and schedules) prior to decisions being made. We have to stop just saying we want community involvement and then waiting for the community to come to us – the district should be a part of as many community groups as possible and needs to be creative in their approaches when trying to gain buy-in and input from the community. We need to meet families where they are in a way that is meaningful to them.

4) What is your own experience with public education and how will that experience serve you as a school board member?

I have three children in Moffat County Schools in seventh-, fourth- and second- grades. We have attended three out of four elementary schools in the district and now have a child at Craig Middle School. I have previously participated as a member of the District Accountability Council. Having young children in the district gives me a "right now" personal experience of how we are serving our children. I have seen great success and great challenges with my own children and their peers and I take all of these experiences with me to the board.

Go back to article