Candidate Q&A: Ryan Wattles
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.
Ryan Wattles is running for Hayden School District Board of Education.
Why are you running for school board?
I am running for school board because I care deeply about the success of our children and community. I strongly believe that those two are intertwined. With four young children in the school district and deep roots in the Yampa Valley, I have a vested interest in the success of our schools. I believe that every school board decision and action should be looked at through a lens of “what is best for students.”
What improvements would you make to better facilitate communication and the exchange of ideas between parents and the school board?
Open, free-flowing communication between parents and the school board is key to our future success. Board members need to hear about what is going well and, more importantly, what is not. We cannot fix problems if we don’t know what they are. Opportunities for community members, parents and staff to collaborate with board members currently exist in the form of board work sessions, board meetings, informally around town and via email. However, communication about these events and opportunities do not always reach their audience.
With seemingly endless modes of communication and an audience that is on information overload, I believe that a back-to-basics approach would improve parent engagement and facilitate better communication. Flyers posted at the school, post office and local business about these opportunities and other school district events would help cut through the noise we all experience from email and social media, as well as reach nontech savvy community members.
How will you ensure that curriculum and its delivery is fair, balanced and aligned with Colorado state curriculum guidelines?
My hope for all children that graduate from Hayden Valley Schools is to have an ability to look at facts, listen to opinions, be able to tell the difference between the two and make educated, well-founded decisions for themselves. I believe that as long as our curriculum is aligned with the Colorado State Curriculum Guidelines, it will be fair and balanced. However, I also believe that the greatest opportunity for students to learn critical thinking comes from having opinion and fact-based discussions with their peers and teachers about current and historical events. Taking away a teacher’s ability and freedom to allow student guided conversations limits students’ opportunities to appreciate and celebrate and have civil discussions with people that have opinions and viewpoints different from their own.
How would you rate the school district’s response to COVID-19, and what would have wanted to see done differently?
I think that Hayden Valley Schools have responded to COVID-19 appropriately. I do not expect, nor want, school administrators or board members pretending to be medical doctors, scientists or epidemiologists. Rather, as they have done, they should follow local and state guidelines on how to respond. The school district’s responsibility is to follow guidelines and communicate with parents about those guidelines and potential exposures.
How do you view the state of the district and the quality of education it is providing students?
Unfortunately, test scores are low, and students are underachieving. Teacher morale is low, and turnover is high. With the future closure of Hayden Station, our fiscal stability is questionable at best. While I would love to talk about how great everything is, that is simply not the case. Our list of “to-improves” is long and serious. With that being said, I truly believe that our future is bright, that when we work hard towards a common goal, we will be successful. I can feel our community rallying around the school. We all want, and need, our schools to be excellent. With the right leadership moving into the future, I know that our school can be a point of pride within our community and the solid foundation of our children’s future.
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