Local educator up for state board position | SteamboatToday.com

Local educator up for state board position

— A local woman may make her way from the Hayden School Board, overseeing the interests of less than 4,000 people, to the state Board of Education, representing more than 4 million.

Olive Morton, the director of community education at Colorado Mountain College and the chairwoman of the Routt County Republican Party, was chosen from a field of 15 applicants last Saturday to be interviewed by the state Board of Education for a seat on the board.

Morton, who served for eight years on the Hayden School Board, is planning to retire from CMC next month and said she thinks the Board of Education position would be a good next step in her career.

“As you close one door, another one opens,” Morton said. “I thought this might be a new and interesting door to open.”

This Saturday, Morton will be interviewed by the state Board of Education, along with two other finalists, to determine who will represent Congressional District 3 on the state board. That district, which is the largest in the state, includes Routt County.

Pat Chlouber, R-Leadville, who represented District 3 in Colorado until about a month ago, was appointed to a national position in the Department of Education by U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. Chlouber will oversee a western region that includes Colorado for the U.S. Department of Education.

After resigning from her position on the state board in December, Chlouber proceeded to recommend Ben Alexander, a Republican who lost a close race for an at-large position on the state board to Jared Polis, D-Colorado Springs, in 2001, to replace her and finish out her term. The board was deadlocked on Alexander’s nomination, voting 3-3 along party lines. Chlouber, however, broke the tie in favor of Alexander and he was appointed to the board. The appointment subsequently inspired controversy and Alexander decided to step down, said Cyndy Simms, the superintendent of the Steamboat Springs School District. Department of Education officials would not comment on Alexander’s decision.

The state then needed to appoint a new board member and decided the party who was losing a member should get the chance to find the new member. That meant the Republicans had to find someone to fill the spot who would then be voted on by the entire board. If they do not come to a decision, the governor will make the choice.

Morton was on the committee seeking candidates for the open position and said she never really considered herself as a candidate. But after being pushed by other committee members, she applied.

Morton, who has worked for CMC for 27 years, said she has always been interested in education and feels this is an opportune time to get involved now that President Bush has committed more money toward education and demanded better accountability.

Simms thinks Morton has a good chance of making it.

“I hope she gets it,” Simms said. “I think she’d be wonderful.”

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