Election Guide 2013: Sharon Johnson
Occupation: finance manager, town of Hayden
Years in Hayden: no answer
Family: husband; two daughters, sophomore and junior, attending Hayden Secondary School; daughter graduated Miami University of Ohio, in her third year teaching with Master of Arts; son is a senior at Monmouth College, Monmouth, Ill.
Civic involvement: Hayden Chamber of Commerce board member last two years; committee chair, Hayden Revitalization Project; board member, Hayden High School Band Booster Club; volunteer parent and supporter, Routt County 4-H and Goodtimes 4H Club; SIT parent member and 2012-13 president; school volunteer for athletics, student council, National Honor Society
Q. Voters here will decide in November whether to approve new statewide tax increases to provide more funding for public education (Amendment 66). Do you support this ballot initiative? Explain why.
A. The Hayden School Board would need to come to a mutual decision, after research and discussion, whether to support this initiative. The Colorado General Assembly has provided voter information showing a slight increase, from 4.63 to 5 percent for taxpayers with annual taxable incomes under $75,000. The School Board would consider the fact Hayden School District constituents have been very supportive of the schools and education with their approval of the mill levy in the last election. Amendment 66 would provide additional funding for Hayden School District with more local control on how it is spent. The formula for funding would not only look at total number of students, but local cost of living and the percentage of students from lower-income households. It could be the boost needed to close the gap in funding programs and staffing unavailable with current funds.
Q. The Hayden School District receives a mixed bag of test scores each year on the state’s standardized test. What do you think the School Board’s role should be in helping to improve these scores?
A. The Hayden School District has been successfully working on the test scores each year on the state’s standardized testing. HSD RE-1 has improved its test scores over the past three years placing us in the accreditation category at all three schools. The school board has a role to continue the trend of improvement and represent the community in a proactive stance and make a positive difference in each student’s learning. We are the force behind the administration and teachers. We are the guidance and direction supporting our administration and teachers. We have an obligation to the public to expect excellence for the school system. We have the responsibility to ask the hard questions and listen to the answers regardless if they are negative or positive and then find a solution. Knowledge of resources and accessing them will be key to our continued improvement and success.
Q. Last year, the Hayden School Board barely rejected a proposed split schedule for its schools that would have added more class days at the secondary school level but kept the elementary schedule the same. Are you satisfied with Hayden’s school calendar? Explain why or why not.
A. This has been a difficult issue to resolve in Hayden. I believe we need to make an informed decision based on research and community values. I would be open to consider all proposals for schedule change along with other factors that may influence test results and expected learning. Learning is an experience and involves much more than quantity of days. We must look at the full picture of quality of days. Hayden has improved its scores steadily over the last three years; we must determine what changed that resulted in improvement and continue to make changes that improve our scores and learning experience.
Q. In what specific ways do you see yourself impacting your school district as a School Board member?
A. Guiding and directing the school policy, administration and teachers to support a positive learning and development environment, where both the students and the teachers grow. Each new board member adds their own dynamics through a diversity of knowledge and experience. I have been in the valley for seven years and bring a different perspective. I bring strong interpersonal skills, including communication and listening skills, trustworthiness, honesty, confidentiality to allow relationships to grow. It is like a meeting of the minds and finding the higher ground to improve the learning experience. I am concerned for the achievement of all students with a passion for “the basics” and ensuring critical thinking, creativity and life skills. I’m interested in creating an involved and engaged community and balancing the community values and culture to the delivery of education to our students.
Q. What do you see as Hayden School District’s greatest needs, and how would you work to address them as a School Board member?
A. Our greatest need will be the replacement of the school superintendent should it be vacated. The position plays a critical role in the leadership of the board, administration and teachers. I would like to identify the mission, values, policy and goals of the district and determine specific needs of the position. Being a part of the search and selection of the superintendent is part of the work I would address. With all this in place, we as a district can move forward and keep alignment to our mission, values, policy and goals through all decisions and actions.
Q. What do you see as Hayden School District’s greatest strengths?
A. The diversity of ideas and commitment to the students and desire to improve the education provided. The community is very supportive of the schools. The small classroom size and students that expect acceptance and give acceptance of others. Students, parents and a community filled with Tiger pride. They believe they can win in all areas whether it be academics, athletics, visual and performing arts, Future Business Leaders of America, debate team and vocational education.
Q. How can the School Board foster more parent involvement in the school district?
A. We can provide better communications to the parents and community and provide knowledge and understanding of where we are as a school district, what are our challenges and goals and how we plan to get there. Do more celebrating of our successes through public recognition of student and teacher achievement. Building and fostering a partnership and involvement of all community members; businesses, civic organizations, empty nesters and young adults is essential to framework of the system. Develop a program or system to involve businesses and individuals of the community in the classroom, on action teams to provide diverse knowledge and perspective in student learning. Provide an avenue for student involvement in community service.
Open-ended statement: My experience is from a broad area: operations management, human resources management and business owner. I have worked in both the private and public sectors and served on boards and committees on a volunteer basis. I have volunteered in the public schools in two different school districts for the past 11 years and worked as a substitute teacher in the Hayden School District for two years. I find working with teachers and students and serving the community very rewarding.
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Editor’s note: The story was updated at 8:33 p.m.