Election 2017: Q & A with Janet Hollifield, Hayden School Board candidate
Steamboat Today: Do you favor the school district’s pursuit of a bond issue to help secure a BEST Grant from the Colorado Department of Education, which would enable the construction of new middle and high schools? Why or why not?
Janet Hollifield: I most certainly do favor the bond issue. I am impressed with the efforts put forth by the current school board to explain the bond and the BEST grant. This is an excellent opportunity to capitalize on an investment for our most treasured resource, our children. The current middle and high schools are in need of major renovation and are near non-repairable. This has been well explained in assessments that are on the school district website. Safety is also a significant concern and should definitely weigh heavily on the minds of our voters. Investing in a safe, sustainable and modern facility is vital to the future of our community.
ST: As the school district pursues a $22.3 million bond issue to help fund the new middle school and high school, do you have any concerns about the district’s tax base given the evolving circumstances in the national energy and power sectors?
JH: The current circumstances regarding the energy industry is absolutely a concern. The long-term viability of our local coal mines is a valid issue for families. I understand this concern. Thus being the importance of our communities to look toward the future and work diligently to diversify our economies and work toward sustainable job creation. I believe two of our greatest assets are the beauty of this remarkable valley and it’s desirability to raise a family here. Hayden underwent an economic assessment this past Summer and several positive attributes were identified. I believe with innovation, diversification and optimism this community will thrive in the coming years.
ST: Are you concerned with the challenges small school districts in Colorado face in recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers? Please describe.
JH: Recruiting and retaining qualified teachers is a challenge. This I believe is why the importance of genuinely listening to the teachers, students and parents is essential. Valuing their input and experience. Collaborating with them and empowering them to autonomously implement the curriculum. Hayden is a desirable place to live and raise a family. Teachers will be more likely to come and stay with a desirable work environment where they feel valued and empowered.
ST: What qualifies you to serve on the Hayden School Board?
JH: I am a Certified Emergency Nurse and a mother of three children who attend Hayden Valley Elementary. I believe that a strong school district is vital to our community, our families and our future. The staff at HVE have been essential in the lives of my children. As a parent I see the long hours that the dedicated staff work and I identify first hand with student needs. I feel called to serve and support our local educators and feel an exciting energy in the district. I am an active member on the HVE Health and Wellness team which has equipped me with many valuable skills and experience. I also sit on the Advisory Board for the Colorado Northwestern Community College Nursing Program. I will bring a nurse’s perspective and approach, to assess a situation objectively then implement change and evaluate the outcome.
ST: In what academic or programmatic area do you think the school district should focus more resources?
JH: I believe the school district should allocate our resources to ensure that our teachers are equipped with the tools and staff to give each child the attention required. I know that a progressive curriculum is being implemented that will likely impact the success rate of our students positively. Our specials programs have been decreased and less staff is being asked to do twice the work. They are accomplishing this exhaustive assignment and with much success. An overstretched teacher however may result in over stressed students. Being a member of the Health and Wellness Team these issues have been addressed and we have been able to implement an art curriculum back into the elementary school. Our mission is to promote the physical, emotional and cultural vitality of the HVE community. By thinking outside of the box and collaborating with motivated parents and teachers the team has the intentions to identify needs and allocate resources as needed. It is with collaboration like this that I plan to bring an optimistic mindset to the school board.
JH: I am honored to be a candidate for the Hayden School District Board of Education. Having been here for 10 years, I adore living in this town and believe it is an invaluable place for my children to grow up. My priorities will be to allocate time and resources towards the overall growth and well-being of our students and staff. I will strive to create policies that allow growth, autonomy and encourage individuality. When people feel valued, understood and empowered, tremendous accomplishments can be palpable. Communicating with the community and staff members will help us determine how policies should be prioritized. Being a nurse I offer a critical thought process that includes prioritization, advocacy, safety and integrity. I am excited to serve this community.