Election Guide 2013: Tony Rosso
Occupation: business owner
Years in Steamboat: four
Family: wife, Erin Monger-Rosso; sons Tazio, 7, and Blaise, 20 months
Civic involvement: Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association board member
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. In this current political climate, it seems to be en vogue to be anti-tax and to cut taxes. While I certainly am not a believer in tax and spend without accountability, I look at taxes from a perspective that my contribution is characteristic of a good citizen. As a School Board member and steward of the community’s school system, there is an enormous responsibility in oversight of the budget. It would be careless of me to support tax cuts or to not support a tax increase that would jeopardize the safety of students and staff, for example. If buses and buildings fall into disrepair because I favor tax cuts above all else, I would be derelict in my duties to serve this community. I support public schools, thus I support adequately funding them.
Q. The Steamboat Springs School District spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from the half-cent sales tax for education on teachers needed to maintain its smaller class sizes. Is this the best use of the money? If you don’t think so, what do you think should be the funding priorities from this tax for education?
A. There is social validity to the effectiveness of lower class size as well as anecdotal evidence from teachers and parents. The research shows that smaller class sizes alone are not enough to increase student achievement. However, small class sizes in concert with solid and evidenced-based instructional practices can improve student outcomes. Smaller class sizes can be the vehicle for building relationships, providing quality and timely feedback and targeting instructional levels. It would continue to make sense to review funding priorities as a standard practice — even with previous accepted educational standards, such as maintaining smaller class sizes.
Q. Students in the district consistently score above state averages on standardized tests, and the district has been ranked among the top 10 percent in the state academically. In what ways do you think the School Board can help to foster even more academic growth? Where would you like to see improvement?
A. I applaud the efforts of the students, parents, teachers, administrators and educational support staff — as well as the community — for the consistent achievement and outcomes as a result of that level of commitment to our schools. Continuing to maintain high expectations and adapting to the global impacts will keep Steamboat School District competitive. We continue to prepare our kindergartners entering school for jobs that don’t even currently exist — that’s how rapidly the world is changing. We have to produce learners that are problem solvers, innovators and thinkers so they can adapt to evolutions in cultures, technologies and workplaces.
Q. In what specific ways do you see yourself impacting your school district as a School Board member?
A. I am a product of public education. I am a member of a family of educators. I understand the cultural and historical perspectives that impact our school systems. With that, I have two sons, almost 2 and 7, who are just beginning their educational journeys. Their futures, and those of their peers, are of concern to me in a climate that may not be prioritizing the needs of our children nationwide. I can provide a voice to them so that their needs and interests are vested and protected. They deserve a system that nourishes dreams, goals, achievement, a love of learning, safe environments and positive relationships.
Q. The school district wants to oversee its own special education program and end a long relationship with the Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services that manages this program for several rural districts. District officials say the move will create more efficiencies and result in cost savings. BOCES worries it would hurt other districts. Do you agree with the district’s move, and why?
A. I am a supporter of all learners and for all students to be educated with their age mates in their neighborhood schools. With that as the outcome, I support systems that are efficient and sensitive to meeting the needs of all students. If this includes ending the district’s relationship with BOCES, then it must be seriously considered. As long as there are no extensive or long-term financial repercussions, it would benefit the district to manage and support its own special services department. With an emphasis on instruction and intervention, the district can prevent even more students from requiring expensive remedial programming in addition to saving special education costs.
Q. The school district has endured an athletic funding crisis in recent years as it costs more to shuttle students to sports. To mend it, the district will implement higher fees and cut back on some programs. What should the future of athletic funding in the district look like?
A. Athletics and any extra-curricular activity play a very important role within the school district. There are many studies and statistics that prove that students who are involved in extra-curricular activities have higher grade point averages and are less likely to use drugs and alcohol. With knowing what positive role athletics play for students, it would be pointless not to find funds to support our student-athletes. I have been able to raise funds for athletic programs throughout my career. Within this community, it is a real possibility to raise enough money to fully endow an athletic program. With this approach, the district could run a first-class athletic program without jeopardizing any academic programs.
Q. How can the School Board foster more parent involvement in the school district?
A. Simply ask and create opportunities for parents to be a part of the district.
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