Q. & A. with David Long, South Routt School Board, District 4 candidate
South Routt School Board, District 4
Occupation: Peabody Energy corporate purchasing manager
Hometown: Oak Creek
Years in Oak Creek/South Routt County: 50 years
Family: I have been married to my wife, Kami, for 29 years. We have three grown children who all graduated from Soroco High School.
Civic involvement: I have been a member of the Routt County Fair advisory board since 2000, and I ‘am currently serving as the board president. I have served on the Soroco High School vo-ag advisory board for the past 25 years. I began serving on the Routt County Extension Agency advisory board this past year. I was honored as a Friend of the Soroco High School this past year as well by the current school board.
Q. Why are you qualified to serve on the school board?
A. I currently manage a staff of seven individuals. It is my responsibility to help develop each of my reporting staff to reach their full potential even when they are faced with difficult circumstances. I have to be successful in determining and sourcing the needs of 300 employees to complete their jobs safely and efficiently, while staying within the budget that was developed by the senior management team of which I am a part of, to provide maximum value for our shareholders. I also must develop a supplier base of well over 500 vendors to meet the needs of the organization that currently employs me. I believe the qualities of leadership I have developed within myself to be successful as a corporate purchasing manager will be an asset to being a member of a successful team on the South Routt School Board.
Q. What do you think is the most important issue facing the South Routt School District and what can be done to address it?
A. To raise the state-mandated test score across all age groups while maintaining fiscal responsibility. I believe that if the present administration has hired qualified teachers, it is the responsibility of the administration to allow these teachers to perform their job with minimal interference. As a board member, I would talk with each teacher, support staff, administrator, as well as listen to ideas from my constituents to begin to form a concise approach that the entire community would support to improve the district test scores. I do not believe the answer to the problem is throwing more money at the problem. With land prices declining and the district receiving fewer tax dollars from royalties in the declining energy market and the state of Colorado, the board needs to maintain fiscal responsibility by scrutinizing all spending and begin to budget for capital transportation cost in the near future.
Q. What strategies would you suggest for the South Routt School District to address declining enrollment?
A. We need to seek input from our constituents to provide a well-rounded educational experience that will fulfill the needs of the majority while meeting the requirements handed down by the state and federal government. We must encourage and empower the staff to think outside box. I believe you will begin to see a stabilization of the enrollment numbers as the Steamboat School District finally begins to implement full-day kindergarten program at no additional cost to parents. The South Routt School District needs to complete their own survey of the parents within the district to determine ways to optimize the curriculum that is being offered their children. The South Routt School District must continue to support classes in the arts, business and vocational studies as we continue to refine the studies in core classes.
Q. Would you support the South Routt School District pursuing district consolidation with Steamboat Springs? Why or why not?
A. I personally do not support consolidating the South Routt School District with the Steamboat School District. However, if after polling the constituents of my district, I would support the direction the majority supported, as I work for them. The Steamboat School District does an outstanding job, but the requirements of a smaller rural school district vary significantly from a larger district. Also, we need to ask the Steamboat School District how they would react to consolidating the districts. I also believe the Steamboat School District has its own issues with increasing class sizes and lack of sufficient facilities that may have an effect on their test scores going forward. To sum up my stance on this question, the entire school district concept set up by our forefathers was predicated on being managed by each individual community as they believed self-rule was best, and I agree with that assessment.
Q. What role do you think the South Routt School District and/or school board plays or should play in the overall South Routt community?
A. If you look throughout the history of the Yampa Valley, schools have always played an important role in each community. From our beginnings as one-room schoolhouses where those in the surrounding area would congregate to socialize, attend church, as well as take an active part in the education of their children and support of their teachers. To the pride each community takes in their support of the children, sports teams and even the tests scores of each school. Once you remove the ability of each community to self rule, you tend to lose interest and support. The local schools have always been a barometer of the economic and social wellbeing of each community, as well as our entire nation. Each community within the Valley has always gone above and beyond to support their local school districts through active involvement of public volunteers, passed bond issues and businesses that openly donate materials or funding. There is no one better prepared to make decisions for the school district than individuals who have spent their entire lives striving to be a positive influence in their communities as they seek to know the issues that each district is facing.
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