Steamboat School Board candidates face off at annual election forum
Steamboat Springs — Five candidates for the Steamboat Springs Board of Education’s three open four-year seats sounded off Wednesday during an annual election forum at The Steamboat Grand.
The education-focused forum was sponsored by the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors, Routt County Republican and Democratic parties and the Steamboat Pilot & Today and featured the candidates, representatives from both sides of the Steamboat Springs School District’s $92 million bond question and candidates for a Colorado Mountain College board seat.
Steamboat board candidates answered questions regarding the district’s decision to integrate preschool, the possibility of countywide district consolidation, the board’s role in choosing curriculum, how to address funding shortfalls and what innovative practices they would champion.
While the candidates agreed in the importance of preschool, they differed on whether it should be part of the school district.
Candidate Anne Lowe, a pharmacist at Yampa Valley Medical Center, suggested that the district taking on preschool was a slippery slope.
“Where does it stop?” asked Lowe, who wondered whether eventually children would be handed over to the school district directly from the hospital.
Candidate Lindsay Wert said he supported the “leg up” for young students, but questioned whether it was a fiscally responsible move.
Candidate Michelle Dover said she believed the move was fiscally responsible, and candidates Joey Andrew and Margaret Huron said they were in favor of the district taking on preschool.
Asked about countywide consolidation of school districts, the candidates agreed they would seek community support and engage in the necessary research to ensure the plan was beneficial to all communities involved. Wert said he knew the option wasn’t favored by some members of the South Routt community, and Andrew said he would want the decision put to a public vote.
Andrew, operations manager for Raindrop Water, is the only incumbent seeking re-election against four newcomers, and he said he would provide valuable continuity for a board that’s had 13 different members in the past five years.
Dover, a circulation services manager at Bud Werner Memorial Library, emphasized she would be transparent, not allowing outside interests to sway the decisions of the board.
Wert, the parent of a Steamboat graduate, said his family had a good experience with the district, but added it could still being improved upon.
Lowe said she had a lifelong passion for education and would use her skills of communication and collaboration to bring together various community members in her role.
As a retired teacher, Huron said she would bring valuable experience to the board.
The three candidates at the forum who receive the most votes will win four-year seats on the board. Candidate Sam Rush is running unopposed for an additional two-year board seat.
Following board questions, Scott Bideau, co-chair of Yes 2 Steamboat Schools and Steph Smith, a member of Citizens for a Better Plan fielded questions about the proposed $92 million school bond measure.
Bideau emphasized the plan was created with ample community involvement and represented a long-term solution for the district. Smith called the plan “vague,” “overambitious” and rushed, adding she didn’t believe the costs of the current plan or other plans considered were fully analyzed.
A second election forum for Steamboat Springs City Council candidates and a discussion of the broadband referendums will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, at The Steamboat Grand.
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