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Steamboat school board appoints new member

Judge Paul Sachs swears in Kelly Latterman as a new member of the Steamboat Springs school board. She replaces Mayling Simpson, who resigned her board seat last month. (Courtesy photo)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs Board of Education welcomed its newest member Monday after interviewing six people who applied for the open position on the board that was vacated by Mayling Simpson.

Kelly Latterman was appointed to fill the seat from a field that included an executive in education technology, a former school resource officer who recently lost a race for sheriff and a school district volunteer and former teacher who advocates for children with special needs.

Kelly Latterman

Latterman will serve a year, and then the board seat will be back up for election in November 2019.

During Friday’s special school board meeting to appoint the new board member, current board members Joey Andrew, Michelle Dover, Margaret Huron and Katy Lee discussed the merits of all the applicants, which they interviewed Thursday.

Board members ranked the candidates from one to six using a special paper ballot with an agreement to discuss the top three candidates. Latterman, along with Chresta Brinkman and Jessica Valand, ranked the highest.

“I thought about this a lot and came up with a guiding sentence,” Dover said. “Who can complement and challenge this board today and carry it on to the future?”

All the board members agreed that the new member would have to “hit the ground running” and be “up to speed” on Steamboat Springs School District issues.

It was soon clear Latterman had three of the members’ top votes with Chresta Brinkman receiving a top ranking from Lee.

“No doubt she (Brinkman) can come in and contribute immediately,” Lee said. “She has in-depth knowledge of the schools. Her connections are really good, and I felt she was stronger because of her time spent in schools.”

While Brinkman has volunteered in various capacities at the district and is a former teacher herself, it was Latterman who got the nod from the board.

“Of all the applicants, she is the one who invested the most time and effort on the challenges we’re currently facing,” Huron said.

After discussion, the board voted unanimously to appoint Latterman to fill the open position.

Latterman serves as a liaison between the community and school officials on the school district’s long-term planning initiative, and in that role, she’s required to know details on facilities, academic programs and extracurricular programming.

But, it was her national experience as senior policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures that caught the attention of Andrew.

“One of the things I wanted on the board … was a way to gauge the school district on a statewide and national level,” Andrew said. “Her background allows that.”

Latterman said her time at the National Conference of State Legislatures was focused on education policy, including helping legislators find funding for rural schools. She is currently co-executive director of Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts Camp and School in Steamboat’s Strawberry Park area.

Latterman, a Steamboat resident since 2013, said she’s been impressed with how the current school board works together in spite of their differences, and she said she believes reaching out to people not involved in schools is an important goal for the board to pursue.

She also thinks the biggest problem faced by the district is school growth and changing demographics.

“But, I also want to put in a plug for mental health,” Latterman said.

She said research shows that adverse childhood conditions can severely affect a child’s direction in life, and preventative measures could prepare them for life after graduation.

The board said all the applicants were impressive.

Other applicants included Brinkman; Valand, regional director of workforce development with the Colorado Department of Labor; Derek Grover, construction contractor and former IT executive; Eric-Paul C. Meyer, long-time education technology consultant and executive; and Kristin Bantle, board of directors for Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault and former social worker and law enforcement officer.

Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.


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