Work: Program coordinator, La Plata Youth Services
Experience: Previously worked for the Southern Ute Tribe as head of the Division of Social Services, the 6th Judicial District as district administrator, and the 6th and 22nd Judicial Districts as chief probation officer.
How long have you lived in Durango?
I have lived in Durango since 1977. I have lived in 9-R School District B since 1980.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy camping, hiking, snowshoeing, reading and spending time with family and friends.
Why are you running for school board?
I have enjoyed working with children throughout my career. I have worked for the Judicial Department as a probation officer and Juvenile Intake officer for the 6th Judicial District. I have also worked as a Social Services division head for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.
Children are our greatest resource and should be given every opportunity to thrive. I have attended several district board meetings, and I am impressed with the work being done to improve an already good school system. The 9-R school district was one of five districts recognized for innovation by the NEA.
My priorities include student performance, the school budget and truancy.
What school board issues do you care most about?
My most pressing issue is the 9-R budget.
This year, the school district spent $1.6 million in deficit to ensure children have access to critical programs and to maintain smaller class size. According to information I have reviewed, Colorado ranks 47th in K-12 funding out of 50 states. How on Earth did this happen?
During the last four years, Colorado school budgets lost a total of $1 billion due to a troubled economy. Even if Amendment 66 passes, it will move Colorado up to 41st in school funding out of 50 states. During that same four-year period, Colorado passed several unfunded educational reform initiatives that increased the workload of existing staff.
I think the second most pressing issue is teacher evaluation. I understand that a new component of teacher evaluation required by the CDE is a percentage of the test scores of students will be factored into the overall performance of a teacher. I do not have much information regarding how it is being implemented at 9-R. I imagine it is a very complex process to factor student achievement into teacher performance. Hopefully, there will be ample opportunity to develop a fair and equitable system utilizing student achievement.
I also believe truancy is a major issue facing the district. It cannot be addressed without a collaborative community response involving the district, the judicial system, the Department of Human Services, Axis Health Systems and law enforcement.
What would you most like to see change?
I think it would be great to have the school district fully funded and not have to operate in a deficit.
I would also like to see the community and the 9-R school district fully embrace the issue of truancy.
Please list two ways in which you think Durango School District 9-R is improving and two ways in which you’d like to see it improve.
The district has been very sensitive to the budget cuts over the past four years and has continued to ensure that student class sizes stay small and that students have access to critical programs. Unfortunately, they have achieved this through deficit spending.
School District 9-R has received a grant designed to address the problem of truancy in a collaborative manner. A multidisciplinary team has been formed to staff truant children and their families and attempt to keep more children in school and improve the graduation rate.
The schools within the 9-R district have had numerous policies regarding truancy and are working diligently on a common policy. This is being done in conjunction with the Bayfield School District.
What do you think of the district using the traditional school calendar versus a longer or year-round calendar?
I would support a year-round school year if data indicated it produced improved results in student achievement. The research I have seen is a mixed bag of results. Some students flourish and some get very far behind. Given that most of the 9-R schools are not air-conditioned, it would be difficult for students to concentrate.
What do you think of Amendment 66?
I fully support Amendment 66. This year, the school district spent $1.6 million in deficit to ensure children have access to critical programs and to maintain smaller class size. According to information I have reviewed, Colorado ranks 47th in K-12 funding out of 50 states. How on Earth did this happen? During the last four years, Colorado school budgets lost a total of $1 billion due to a troubled economy. Even if Amendment 66 passes, it will move Colorado up to 41st in school funding out of 50 states. During that same four year period, Colorado passed several unfunded educational reform initiatives that increased the workload of existing staff.
How would you propose ensuring teachers are effective?
The current Master Agreement between the school district and the Durango Education Support Personnel Association has recently been implemented. I believe the measurement of areas of growth, strengths and weaknesses as well as the recognition of goals that enhance job skills of employees is critical. Employees are a valuable resource and should be given every opportunity to address weaknesses and turn them into strengths. I also am a firm believer in employee recognition for achievement and success.
I do have concerns about pairing student performance with teacher evaluation as there are so many variables outside the control of teachers. Hopefully, those variables will be sufficiently addressed in the process.
I believe the process described in the Master Agreement is an effective method of evaluating the performance of teachers, assisting them in strengthening areas of weakness and providing them with clear direction regarding expectations of their job performance. I also appreciate that teachers are given the opportunity for self-evaluation and supervisor observation.