Candidate Q&A: Katy Lee
Editor’s note: Steamboat Pilot & Today has asked each of the local candidates in the 2021 Election on Nov. 2 to participate in a Q&A to better inform voters, asking the same questions related to each specific office. Visit SteamboatPilot.com/election for the latest election news and information.
Katy Lee is running for Steamboat Springs School District Board of Education.
Why are you running for school board?
My four years on the board have been challenging but rewarding. When faced with diverse opinions, I seek common ground. I strive to make the best decision for the entire community by considering the whole picture. My knowledge as an incumbent and my critical thinking and project management skills as an engineer of 25 years are assets to the district.
Our district is ready to move forward. We have gained new confidence in our ability to adapt quickly and have set our sights on working with the community to re-envision our Steamboat Springs graduates of the future. Access to expanded learning opportunities and our newly updated facilities bring new possibilities for students of every age. The timing is perfect for creative partnerships that serve both our students and local businesses in need of skills. We have work to do, but I am excited about our upward potential.
What improvements would you make to better facilitate communication and the exchange of ideas between parents and the school board?
Since my election four years ago, the board has made strides to improve communication with parents, but we still have room for improvement. Public comment at business meetings must be equitable and discussion topics on the agenda, and I understand this is sometimes frustrating. We recently added “Coffee with the Board.” By limiting these chats to two board members, we avoid a quorum, which means we are able to engage in the back and forth necessary for deeper understanding. Our new Climate and Culture Committee is restarting schoolwide surveys. These initiatives help open lines of communication. I think we could also better utilize the resources of the School and District Advisory Committees and our incredible PIC’s. But for me, there is no substitute for one-on-one dialogue. I’m happy to be back volunteering in the school buildings, and I welcome a hallway chat, phone call or coffee with a parent anytime.
Where do you stand on introducing critical race theory into our schools?
Critical Race Theory is not an easily understood subject. The internet is rife with definitions, and none agree. Though many people are just now passionately discussing CRT, the term was coined in the 1970s. To my knowledge, following extensive research, there is no set curriculum with the label CRT. Rather, it seems to be the examination of how racism is integrated into laws and public policy.
From lively family discussions over the past ten years with my highschoolers, I believe we teach our students to think widely and critically and to examine things from diverse points of view. This ability is what I think it takes to recognize racism in ourselves and others and to move toward positive changes. Do I think we need to introduce a specific new curriculum? No. Do I think we should continue to teach our kids to question and be thoughtful about race? Yes.
How will you ensure that curriculum and its delivery is fair, balanced and aligned with Colorado state curriculum guidelines?
Our board chooses to delegate curriculum selection to the teachers who teach it. We have teams of subject matter experts who evaluate which curriculum fits best, when to update it, how it aligns across departments and progresses between grades and how to implement it. My role as a board member, then, is to ensure that the process is rigorous, that we have trained staff who ensure we comply with state guidelines, that we audit to ensure we are delivering it in a fair and balanced way and that it supports our end goals.
Steamboat Schools rank well in the state, where do you see opportunities to improve academic performance?
Improving academic performance means more than how we are ranked by the state. It’s finding what ignites that desire in each of our students to learn. COVID-19 provided an explosion of online content on subjects from the arts to advanced engineering. How can we now use these online resources to the best advantage for all ages and demographics in Steamboat? Colleges offer more classes online than ever before. An advanced learner can explore options that we can’t support locally. Creative partnerships between the schools and local businesses could further expose kids to jobs in skilled labor, hospitality, business, STEM, the arts, etc., to help them better shape their future, whether or not college is the right fit for them. There are so many exciting ways we can further engage our students and provide growth opportunities.
How would you rate the school district’s response to COVID-19, and what would you have wanted to see done differently?
If we knew then what we know now about the pandemic’s progression, I think we would have made different decisions. However, our understanding of how to best mitigate spread and our tolerance for risk as a community, state and nation have evolved incredibly. When I honestly evaluate each decision in context, I believe we worked with our public-health experts and the best science-backed information available at that time to balance the needs of the community with those of the schools. Our kids had a relatively stable environment, and we supported physical and mental health, as well as academic progress. We maintained in-person learning when many schools in our state could not. I recognize the learning environment did have significant impacts. What is most important now is where we go from here. Let’s understand individual gaps, allocate the necessary resources for recovery and maximize the potential of each of our students.
What is the primary purpose of the board of education, and in your role, do you feel you represent/speak for a particular group (faction, party, constituency, etc.)? If so, who?
Our board is most effective when we govern at the strategic level, working toward what’s best for our community as a whole. We determine the district vision and goals, enact policies to implement them, hire the superintendent to lead these efforts and allocate necessary financial and other resources. We plan for the future by monitoring enrollment projections, determining the need for facilities upgrades or additions, and obtaining the necessary financial resources. We engage the community throughout and continuously monitor progress.
One of the reasons I chose to run for BOE is because it is nonpartisan. We represent the community at-large, so we should make decisions that best fit the entire community of Steamboat Springs regardless of our personal desires.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.