Q. & A. with Lindsay Wert, Steamboat Springs School Board at-large candidate
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs School Board, at-large
Occupation: Engineering consultant
Years in Steamboat: 13
Family: Married with one son who graduated from Steamboat Springs High School in 2007.
Civic involvement: This is really my first concerted civic involvement for Steamboat.
Q. Do you support the proposed $92 million bond measure? Why or why not?
A. I generally support the measure but with some reservations. Everyone needs to recognize that no plan can be perfect. This community elected the school board to represent them, those representatives considered many alternatives, all aspects the process leading to the plan were transparent, several community meetings provided the community with ample opportunity to participate, and those representatives have given the result to the voters for final approval. With that in mind: demographic studies indicate continuing growth in school population. Elementary and middle schools are already over capacity, and the high school is not far behind. This is a long-term plan to avoid the many band aids of the past and greater cost in the future. While I am very concerned about increased taxes for residents and business, resulting taxes will be consistent with 2007 levels. Current school sites all have limited expansion space, and there are few other suitable local sites.
Q. What direction do you believe the district should take if the bond measure fails?
A. Since the elementary schools and the middle school are presently over capacity, the capacity problem will soon affect the high school. In fact, there are already some effects on the high school in terms of space available for classrooms with special characteristics, like science classrooms. With this basis, something must clearly be done. The district will continue in the meantime with cost-ineffective band aids, like modular additions to meet immediate needs. All approaches must again be considered, and the board must provide leadership with greater community involvement to ensure an acceptable solution. Specifics of those solutions are multi-variate, with consideration of student needs, community needs, regulations and cost.
Q. How would you describe any involvement you’ve had with the local school district or any background or experience you have with education?
A. My experience with Steamboat schools is primarily limited to the interactions I had while our son was enrolled. That experience was sometimes gratifying and sometimes disappointing. After some time reflecting on this experience and consideration of the present school board direction, I would like to help generally perpetuate current direction and reduce the disappointments we experienced. I am prepared to pursue this direction in a thoughtful and responsible manner. Although not related to primary and secondary education, I have had leadership roles in several professional development activities throughout my career.
Q. What do you believe the role of a school board member should be in relationship to administration and staff? To parents and students?
A. Since the community pays for education and receives benefit thereof, the board of education serve as representatives of the community to ensure children’s educational benefit for reasonable cost. I believe the board of education is in place to ensure interests of the students, parents and the community as a whole are served by the district. The board is in place to set policy and priorities and allow administration to execute in accordance with those policies and priorities. School board members are not in place as advocates for individual students and parents, but instead as advocates of opportunity for all students.
Q. Why are you uniquely qualified to serve on the school board?
A. I have been effective in several leadership roles during my professional career.
I have a focus on outcomes providing quality in a cost-effective manner and will apply the same for the district. I am fiscally responsible and will work to ensure the district is as well.
Q. Do you think the new state law requiring school districts to hold collaborative bargaining meetings in public has had a positive or negative impact on the negotiation process? Why?
A. I believe it has a positive impact. The school board has been very transparent in all aspects of its responsibilities, which means the community has the ability to fully understand how community funding is allocated. While the school board discusses subjects relating to individuals in closed session, all collective decisions are taken in fully transparent open sessions. Since the community has an inherent right to know how the funding they supply is spent, it follows that collective bargaining discussions be subject to the same transparency.
Q. What do you think is the most important issue facing the Steamboat Springs School District in the coming years?
A. I believe most important challenges are the ongoing changes and enhancements in methods of effective learning associated with our changing technology. It is difficult to foresee what education may look like in 10 or 20 years, and it is therefore important to understand the potential improvements and associated infrastructural needs. I have spent my life leading and participating in the development of technology and believe I help to navigate an effective course for the ongoing evolution in education.
Q. In what academic or programmatic area do you think the school district should focus more resources?
A. The first focus should be ensuring the basics of reading, writing, math, science and problem solving are well engrained. I have run across too many adults, both professionally and socially, who are lacking in these basic skills, and as a result are limited in their ability to succeed. With that said, I also value knowledge of civics and history, since they help us to better understand our government and to avoid repeating our mistakes. All subjects should be taught in a factual and unbiased manner. As the student progresses through the levels of education, it is important to reinforce these basic skills while holding student interest and introducing more advanced concepts.
Q. What would be your top three priorities as a newly elected board member?
A. Ensure the district is operating in a fiscally sound manner. Ensure the district has sufficient infrastructure for orderly growth. Ensure the district continues to perform well and maintain the excellent Colorado standing, perform to improve national and international standing and be poised for the ongoing evolution in education.
Q. How do you think schools should measure student achievement?
A. I believe the most effective method for these evaluations would be a series of short tests of specific subject elements occurring throughout the school year, so that students are evaluated on a nearly continuous basis while avoiding the “teaching for the test” mentality. Student achievement is evaluated to assess the effectiveness of individual students, individual teachers, schools, districts and regionally, all in comparison with their respective counterparts. The challenge with all of this is choice of specific testing benchmarks that are universally applicable. Measurement of student achievement really boils down to what students retain and how they work to solve problems. Some form of evaluation is needed to characterize these achievement characteristics, and the evaluation often takes the form of a test. I believe other methods are available, such as continuous monitoring of homework, but they introduce some variability, making comparison difficult beyond classroom boundaries.
I am Lindsay Wert and I would like to be your representative on the Steamboat Springs School Board. With the belief that our schools are one of the primary factors of our quality of life, I would like to help perpetuate and expand recent success of Steamboat Springs school performance. The four primary reasons I ask for your vote are:
• I care deeply about Steamboat Springs and Routt County.
• I will focus on cost-effective quality education
• I am fiscally responsible
• I will represent the voters will
• I am passionate about the Steamboat Springs area and believe I can help by participating as a member of the school board, perpetuating recent success and continued improvement. I am dedicated to our future.
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