Q. & A. with Sameta ‘Sam’ Rush, Steamboat Springs School Board two-year at-large seat
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs School Board, running unopposed for 2-year seat
Sameta “Sam” Rush
Occupation: education administrator, Colorado Mountain College
Hometown: Steamboat Springs
Years in Steamboat: 16
Civic involvement: American Red Cross, Wounded Warriors
Q. Do you support the proposed $92 million bond measure? Why or why not?
A. Regardless of what I think, I will support what the voters decide. The role of a board member is to represent the community. However, I have deep concerns with the off-site location, the traffic in west Steamboat Springs and the cost to all, especially the business owners.
Q. What direction do you believe the district should take if the bond measure fails?
A. Previous RE2 school boards planned ahead for school sites by purchasing land near Whistler and Steamboat II. I think it makes sense to examine the hIstorical trends they encountered and look for patterns and trends with today’s numbers. And, if a decision is made to build on the Steamboat II or Whistler site, the other unused site should be sold to help pay for the construction of the new school. Also, with so much controversy around the current bond measure and the demographics report, a more thorough demographic data collection must occur with pre-kindergaten, North Routt, non-district and Montessori or other projected charter school numbers included.
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. As a teacher in the district from 1999 to 2009, I served on many committees, including collaborative bargaining, curriculum and coached middle school track and field. I have taught for the National Outdoor Leadership School, Anchorage Public Schools, Colorado Mountain College, Alaska Pacific University and various trainings and short courses throughout rural Alaska.
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. The school board member represents the community. She must listen to the concerns of all members of the community she represents, be informed and foresightful to trends in education, be proactive for the best action for her district and show an involvement in all processes acceptable to the school district and community. A board member must show proactive support for all teachers and paras, be a strong voice for fiscal responsibility and show a willingness to update members of the community with thorough communication. She must be willing to stand by decisions made and take responsibility for decisions that were wrong. She works with one employee, the superintendent, and through Colorado Open Meetings Laws, upholds professional expectations for the process of school board stewardship.
Q. Why are you uniquely qualified to serve on the school board?
A. My educational background, my administrative experience, my willingness to serve, and my availability qualify me to serve on the RE2 School Board. In my opinion, the job of the school board member is quite difficult, time consuming and thankless. However, I am at a good place in my life for civic duty and am offering countless hours for the next two years. For me, education and politics are separate, and I feel quite strongly that my educational experiences, pre-K through higher education, will bring an awareness and resource for other board members and state legislators who don’t have that background.
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 am unfamiliar with the CBT meetings being public, but I have participated in collaborative bargaining and I support the coordination. Anyone who wants to sit through the hours of discussion and hard work would be welcome in my opinion.
Q. What do you think is the most important issue facing the Steamboat Springs School District in the coming years?
A. Funding, pure and simple. The state of Colorado through TABOR severely limits the amount of money for school districts. Hence, the pay for teachers, new programs, new buildings, retaining quality teachers, etc. all stem back to the cost. However, even if we had the magic pot of money, it is the responsibility to put the dollars in with our best resource — teachers and paras.
Q. In what academic or programmatic area do you think the school district should focus more resources?
A. My background is science, so I am a little biased. However, without good foundations for all students and programs aligned with their needs, I would defer to the teachers, paras and community to answer that question. There are tremendous resources at each school through the various committees, organizations and the student body for their views as to what needs more focus or resource. However, trends in education often direct the focus to the latest, greatest, newest technology. Caution must be observed that we don’t bypass the foundational needs of all learners for something trendy.
Q. What would be your top three priorities as a newly elected board member?
A. Learn. Listen. Watch. Ask. This job isn’t about my priorities. With the community and other board members, I would work with the priorities that will likely surface post election.
Q. How do you think schools should measure student achievement?
Twenty percent of the student’s school year should not be on assessment. Teachers, principals, assistant principals and paras spend far too much time coordinating test protocols, assuring test integrity, etc. The time of these professionals would be better spent with their students building the creative learning environment that prompted each educator to the profession in the first place. It isn’t about the salary, it is about the students, pre-K through higher education.
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After several Steamboat Springs Transit drivers caught COVID-19 recently, the operation had to adjust its routes around New Year celebrations and The MusicFest at Steamboat, two of the city’s busiest weeks of the year.