Helping Moffat County kids motivates candidates to serve on school board
CRAIG — A forum for candidates vying for the Moffat County School District Board of Education was held Oct. 12.
Moffat County High School Speech and Debate Team, CMS Leadership Team, Moffat County Education Association and Moffat County School District Strategic Planning Team presented the forum, during which an audience of about 60 listened to candidates’ platforms, priorities and responses to nine questions gathered from the community.
Dentist Owen “Lee” Atkin and Moffat County native Alicia Noland, who works at Memorial Regional Health, are vying to represent District 4. Both are parents of students in the district, and both said they want to help the district for the sake of all children.
“There are a lot of kids in our district that don’t have a voice or an advocate. … It’s important to provide an equal education for all kids in our district,” Atkin said in response to the question, “How will your own past experience as a student and/or parent in public education influence the way you will govern as a school board member?”
In response to the same question, Noland said, “My experience, of having been educated here, was that it gave me the opportunities to be the best that I wanted to be.” She also stressed the importance of helping give the same feeling to today’s children.
In response to the question: “When school closure is approved and successfully releases new funding, how should the district determine how best to use the operational funds?”
Both candidates spoke to the importance of tracking the money, using some to better support teachers through increased freedom in the classroom, as well as possible increases in wages and benefits.
Noland added, “The way we reinvest in our kids is to reinvest in our teachers. They need to be successful if our kids are going to be successful.”
In the second contested race — for the District 1 seat — CPA Mindy Baker is challenging interim school board member Chip McIntyre’s, who was appointed in August.
Candidates were asked, “What fiscal partnerships could be forged with other government and community organizations or agencies?”
McIntyre spoke of attending the Moffat County Priority Based Budgeting Workshop, at which he said he learned that other cash strapped communities are creating partners to centralize services such as mowing the lawns and providing a shared insurance pool for public employees.
“From mowing lawns to bigger things, there are ways you can partner to save everyone money and be more efficient,” he said.
Baker agreed that solutions could be close to home.
“We have to look for alternative resources and another answer to those (fiscal) problems. We can find those solutions right here,” she said.
Baker and McIntyre agreed that increased resources for teachers are important when asked, “What ideas do you have about how the district can attract and keep both students and effective teachers?”
In addition, Baker said, “The staff also needs to feel supported — from the admin. to school board to superintendent; with a lot of turnover, change is hard to facilitate.”
McIntyre said he would like to reverse the trend of losing students to other schools by introducing new and expanded programs.
“You have to have programs that kids want to do that might engage them. The idea of revisioning the vo-ag program at the high school is a great start to attract students,” he said.
Two other school board candidates are running unopposed — Dr. Elise Sullivan, for District 2, and businessman Chris Thome, for District 7. They also participated in the forum.
“A school district has a lot of competing interests that don’t have to compete in a lose-lose. I think that it is important to listen and balance and to try to seek that win-win proposal when it is available,” Sullivan said in response to a question about how to balance the roles of being “a representative of the community that elected them and an advocate for the school system for which they serve.”
In response to the same question, Thome pointed to one of this year’s goals in the new school district strategic plan.
“Part of the scorecard is to increase community awareness. It’s not fixed. It has to get better,” he said. “We have a great message and a great goal. As board members, we have to do better than that. We have to have better involvement in the community.”
As no one submitted an application to represent District 6, being vacated by school board President Darrell Camilletti, the newly elected board of education will appoint a replacement.
All registered voters in Moffat County are eligible to vote across all districts. The elections office began mailing ballots on Monday, Oct. 16. Sample ballots and other election information are available on the elections page of the Moffat County website.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.