Q. & A. with Joseph ‘Joey’ Andrew, Steamboat Springs School Board at-large candidate
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs School Board, at-large
Joseph “Joey” Andrew
Hometown: Steamboat Springs
Years in Steamboat: Fifth generation resident
Family: Recently engaged
Civic Involvement: Elected to the Steamboat Springs School Board as director for District 2 in 2013; Steamboat Springs Board of Education representative to Education Fund Board, 2013 to present; Steamboat Springs Board of Education representative for strategic planning, 2014 to now; chair of Elk Mountain #118 Education and Scholarship Committee
Q. Do you support the proposed $92 million bond measure? Why?
A. Yes. Programs should be based off of student needs and desired learning outcomes, not limitations of buildings without enough space. Growing up on my family’s homestead just south of Steamboat, I know how to find creative solutions to resolve/fix issues. However, I can also appreciate the need to make investments for our long-term future. 3A and 3B represent a creative community-driven solution for addressing our building/classroom needs while planning Steamboat’s future. Personally, I had the great fortune of benefiting from the careful planning this school district did in the late 1970s and early ‘80s when the current middle school and Strawberry Park Elementary School were built outside of town in 1981. A lot has changed since then, and 3A and 3B allow our district the opportunity to continue to find creative solutions as our district grows.
Q. What direction do you believe the district should take if the bond measure fails?
A. The $92 million ballot measure 3A also represents $14 million of repairs for our current buildings including new roofs, climate control, plumbing repairs, electrical systems and fire alarms. If the bond and mill levy override fail this year, I believe the Steamboat Springs School Board should return to the voters in November 2016 with two mill levy overrides and no bond. The first mill levy should address the $14 million in needed repairs. The second is to fund programs, staff and increasing operational costs. This accomplishes a few things. First, the district should be able to save voters interest on the $14 million dollars in repairs by doing a short, three- to five-year override rather than financing for a 20-plus-year bond. Second, this plan allows the SSSD to protect our community’s investment in our buildings. Finally, this gives the district time to analyze: why the bond failed, possible asset divestment(s) with revenues to offset repair costs and continue to work with the community on finding a long-term solution.
Q. How would you describe any involvement you’ve had with the local school district or any background or experience you have had with education?
A. Having attended Steamboat Springs Schools K-12, worked in our district K-12, been elected to the Steamboat Springs School Board, served as the SSSB rep to strategic planning, served as the SSSB rep to the Education Fund Board half-cent sales tax and a current chair of a local and regional scholarship committee, I have a multifaceted perspective of our school district, which I will continue to use if re-elected.
Q. What do you believe the role of a school board member should be in relationship to administration, staff, parents and students?
A. School board members are voluntary representatives of the community to the school district. With so many stakeholders, our primary focus should always be student centered and driven. It isn’t a board member’s role to teach classes or engage in daily district operations. It is our responsibility to ensure a strong working relationship between the school district and community, that needs are met, goals surpassed and to plan for the future.
Q. Why are you uniquely qualified to serve on the school board?
A. Since I was elected to the Steamboat Springs School Board, I have worked hard to answer emails, phone calls and meet for coffee to discuss the community’s concerns. I actively seek out varying perspectives and ideas on issues prior to making decisions. I believe that all district staff need the opportunity, time and support to do what they do best.
Q. Do you think the new state law requiring school district to hold collaborative bargaining meetings in public has had a positive or negative impact on negations process? Why?
A. Proposition 104 passed with 69 percent of the popular vote in November 2014. Prior to that election, I voted to move all school district collaborative bargaining meetings to be held in public. My reasoning for this was simple, public funds need to be discussed and spent in an open, accountable and transparent manner. As a former student and substitute teacher, I know the difficulty of stepping into a classroom when the teacher is away and the impact(s) that it can have on our students. The district’s practice of holding some collaborative bargaining meetings during the school day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. means some of our amazing staff are in the negotiation room not a classroom. It also means that community members will need to miss work to attend the daytime negotiations and staff choosing to not be represented by the union must take leave to attend. Prop 104 brought transparency to collaborative bargaining just not accessibility.
Q. What do you think is the most important issue facing the Steamboat Springs School District in the coming years?
A. The most important organizational issue facing the Steamboat Springs School District is funding with the recent court ruling on Amendment 23, current discussion at the State Capital of a possible education funding rescission this fiscal year, 10 percent increase in health care costs, utility increases and the increase cost of PERA. This and future boards will need to master the art of stretching a dollar.
Q. In what academic or programmatic area do you thing the school district should focus more?
A. Vocational studies/training with dedicated classroom supplies and community mentorships teaching our kids to be producers of technology rather than just consumers. And life skills — how to balance accounts, set budgets, calculating compounding interest, handle digital communications and find quality reputable information in research.
Q. What would be your top three priorities as a newly elected board member?
A. Effectively manage costs while continuing to provide the school system our community deserves. Create a strong working relationship with the newly elected school board. We don’t always need to agree just make sure we are always professional to all.
Establish a local means of measuring student achievement on a national and global level.
Q. How do you think schools should measure student achievement?
A. Students should take tests, which will impact and direct their own education. Test results are being made available the next day and not next school year like the current state assessments. That allows teachers to measure growth and address gaps in learning. In the past, the SSSD has used MAPs and a few other tests, depending on grade level, to accomplish this. In an ideal setting these same testing systems would also be used nationally in all school districts. This would limit the amount of tests students take, speed up results, allow for program intervention and give the state and federal government a system of checks and balances.
My name is Joseph Andrew, and I want to continue to be your representative on the Steamboat Springs School Board. I hope that my past service, voting record, open communication and plan for our district’s future will earn your vote.
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