Election 2017: Q & A with Medora Fralick, 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?
Medora Fralick: I strongly support the district’s pursuit of the bond issue. Our current facilities are past their useful lives (70 years old in some cases), unsafe and not conducive to learning. The community group involved in master planning for the district confirmed what the facilities specialists from Colorado Department of Education concluded. We can spend $22 million on repairing what we have or pass the $22 million bond, which leverages a $41 million state match to build a facility, which will incorporate operational and educational efficiencies. The new, consolidated campus will allow us to save substantial dollars on utilities, maintenance and staffing. The K-12 campus will be state of the art learning space for students. All teachers will be in one location allowing for ease of communication, sharing of knowledge/resources and collaboration. The unifying aspects of consolidation into one campus hold many benefits to staff, students and the community as a whole.
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?
MF: The best investment we can make in our community is to invest in our school system and our kids. Hayden is growing now due to the affordability in the region. If we want to continue to grow, we must invest in the infrastructure to support that growth. This means ensuring we have great schools that are safe and productive. If the energy sector of our economy remains viable, we are prepared. If the energy sector slows down, we are still investing in our youth, the future of our community and attracting location neutral business and workers who require great schools and a great place to live. Taking action now while we know our tax base and not waiting for potential losses in the energy sector ensures we have the largest tax base for the foreseeable future.
ST: Are you concerned with the challenges small school districts in Colorado face in recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers? Please describe.
MF: Recruiting and retaining quality teachers in any district is a challenge. The financial reality of a small rural district along with lack of affordable housing and a sense of isolation can be daunting. With that in mind, no teacher in any district is teaching for “the money.” As a district, we must find ways to value our teachers and support them in every way we can. Hayden has the advantage of being in a beautiful setting outdoor and recreational opportunities abounding. We also have a community that values and supports education. Passing the school bond and building a K-12 state of the art facility is important in attracting and retaining the best and the brightest. The school board along with administration need to continue to offer creative opportunities which will help recruit and retain our most valuable assets, our teachers.
ST: What qualifies you to serve on the Hayden School Board?
MF: As a current board member, I have spent the past four years learning about the Hayden school system along with state and federal laws, finance and other influences on our district. Hayden is facing many large issues as a district at this time and my experience and familiarity allow me to continue the important work that has been started. I listen, I learn and I advocate for students with every decision I make. The decisions I make as a board member are not about me, they are about the students. As long as I am using student benefit as my litmus test, I believe I am doing the “right thing.” I also believe that the education system in a community is the most important asset and economic driver. I always have been and will continue to be a constant champion for our district.
ST: In what academic or programmatic area do you think the school district should focus more resources?
MF: The Hayden School District has been working on developing and implementing a consolidated K-12 curriculum over the past two years. I believe that developing our curriculum around high expectations and working as a complete system (K-12) is critical to moving student achievement forward. At the same time, professional development support for our teachers is equally important. In light of very difficult budget circumstances, these are two areas that must continue to receive resources and emphasis from the board and administration.
MF: During my first term on the Hayden School Board, we have undertaken some very important and exciting projects. I have championed the students in our system as well as our teachers and will continue to do so if I am elected to a second term. Investing my time and energy into our schools by working toward a safe, state-of-the-art, efficient K-12 campus, working toward financial stability and continuing to support staff development and a K-12 curriculum are projects I would like to see through to implementation. Our students deserve to be held to high expectations and given the tools to meet those expectations. Our staff deserve to be held to high expectations and given the support to meet those expectations. I will continue to make decisions that I believe do these things and help every student to graduate ready to succeed in their next phase of life.
A learn-by-doing methodology was on display Friday at the Loudy-Simpson Park pond as Moffat County High School science students learned quickly whether or not they had a future in engineering.