Moffat County school board candidates diverge on mill levy, Common Core

Lauren Blair
Moffat County School District school board candidates introduced themselves to the community and answered a series of questions posed by Matt Winey at Thursday evening's school board forum hosted by the Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots. Nearly 70 members of the community, including current school board members and several elected officials, turned out for the event and posed their own questions to candidates on issues ranging from over-testing to school calendar changes to Common Core.
Lauren Blair

— Civic engagement was alive and well at Thursday evening’s school board candidate forum hosted by the Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots.

Nearly 70 people turned out to hear what candidates for the Moffat County School District Board of Education had to say on issues ranging from tax increases to Common Core to school district goals for the coming years.

The steepest competition in this year’s race lies in District 1, with four candidates representing a wide range of experience competing for the seat. Districts 5 and 7 each only have one candidate on the ballot, while District 3 is a standoff between two candidates.

On the hot topic of Common Core, District 1 candidates Darryl Steele and Amy Shaffer weighed in against it, JNL Linsacum stated her support for it and Neil Folks fell somewhere in between.

“I don’t think it takes away local control,” JNL Linsacum said. “This school district still has its own curriculum they follow… I wish I could ask the question to you why people don’t like it.”

Common Core State Standards is a set of educational standards that were voluntarily adopted by Colorado in 2010 alongside 41 other states in the U.S.

The other three candidates in attendance — Travis Linsacum and JoBeth Tupa in District 3, and Jo Ann Baxter in District 5 — also voiced their support for the standards, which Baxter clarified do not dictate specific curriculum.

“I would hope that if the state of Colorado would opt out of Common Core that that action would not affect our curriculum one bit,” Baxter said. “It has been carefully designed… It’s a well-put together curriculum and we should keep it.”

Candidates answered questions on whether or not they would support a mill levy tax increase to raise more funds for the school district.

Shaffer, Steele and Tupa opposed a mill levy, opting instead for a close examination of the budget for where further cuts could be made, and Folks and Baxter said it’s a last resort. JNL Linsacum and Travis Linsacum voiced support for a mill levy.

“I think it’s no secret that Moffat County School District is in poor shape financially,” Travis Linsacum said. “As a taxpayer, as a property owner, I personally have no problem paying a little extra money if it means our children get a better education.”

Following the formal question-and-answer period, the members of the public raised their own questions on issues such as an extended school calendar and over-testing.

Most candidates generally said no to an extended school calendar, which would make for a shorter summer break, while JNL Linsacum was the only candidate to favor the idea in order for teachers to have more time with kids.

“This is a rural community and while the rural people have things they do in summer, there are other activities too like sports, camps and other thing happening in summer months, so I would say no,” Steele said.

Candidates will face off again at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in a forum organized by Moffat County Education Association at Moffat County High School.

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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