Q. & A. with Greg Hermann, Hayden School District, at-large candidate
Hayden — Hayden School District, at-large seat
Occupation: Consulting engineer, Colorado P.E. #17422. I hold a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and machine design and a master’s of business administration — both from Cornell University.
Hometown: San Francisco, California
Years in Hayden/Routt County: 38
Civic involvement: Board of Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District, current, for 12-plus years, executive committee of same for four-plus years; board of Morrison Creek Metro Water and Sanitation District, past chair for two years; board of Stagecoach Homeowners Association, four years.
Q. Do you think the school board should extend the calendar to offer additional classroom days?
A. I would rather see the board consolidate the school calendar so as to provide the same or a somewhat higher number of classroom days in a shorter period of time — with longer breaks for the students and staff. It is a well established fact that students reach “learning saturation” and then need a break in order to learn most effectively.
Q. Do you think the current school board has done an adequate job planning for the future?
A. I have yet to study the Hayden School District’s books in order to determine how well the board has provided for the future by depreciating existing infrastructure properly and setting aside reserves for future capital improvements and/or expansion. Via word of mouth, I have been informed that the board has not done this. Beyond saying this, I shall reserve comment until I have reviewed the district’s books in detail.
Q. What are the biggest challenges you feel the school district faces?
Seeing to it that our children are given adequate tools to become informed, productive citizens of whatever community in which they might choose to reside in the future. This emphatically includes a thorough course in civics, as well as the founding principles of our nation and state as a requirement for graduation from high school. Providing for future capital investment needs WITHOUT asking the taxpayers to contribute more to the District than they already do.
Q. Would you be in favor of consolidating school districts with Steamboat and South Routt?
A. No. I believe strongly in local control of schools. While it might appear that there are economies which could be achieved via consolidation, not only do I think local control would be eroded, my experience indicates that larger entities tend to cause bureaucracies to metastacize and end up costing more, rather than less besides diluting the level of control which can be exerted by citizens (as well as parents, in the case of a school district).
Q. In what academic or programatic area do you think the school district should focus more resources?
A. I believe that the following are all areas which demand serious attention:
• Focus on more traditional methods of teaching reading, writing and mathematics. Switching to “new,” different and expensive (and often confusing) programs in these areas every few years is nonproductive for both students and teachers and also needlessly costly.
• American history taught in an unbiased manner. Teach our children about all the wonderful things that our veterans have sacrificed and fought to bequeath to them.
• Civics — teach our children how our (and their) government functions as well as the details of the founding principles and documents of our nation and state.
• Vocational education. It is well proven that one of the most effective learning paths involves use of the hands to do more than tap a keyboard. Not to mention that many children are best suited to make a living in their adult lives using craft skills.
• Provide course content that avoids boredom on the part of our brighter children. I believe that boredom is often mis-diagnosed as ADHD.
I want to take steps to determine, in an objective manner, how our teachers spend their time. More specifically, I want to know what percentage of their time our teachers spend doing what the vast majority of them are dedicated to — actually working with, teaching our children — as opposed to boilerplate testing and paperwork. If we can increase the percentage of actual teaching time, it will be a positive thing for the students and the teachers, as well as for the district’s budget.
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Thursday, Sept. 23