Steamboat School Board hosts informational lunch for prospective board candidates
Two of the board’s five seats will be up for election in November.
Kim Brack was very involved in the workings of the Steamboat Springs School District before she was elected to the school board. She got to know a lot of the teachers and administration, and eventually, Superintendent Brad Meeks asked her to serve the district’s Strategic Planning Committee.
Ahead of the 2019 school board election, teachers encouraged her to run, telling her she wouldn’t have to spend any money and they would support her in the race.
“If the teachers want you, it is kind of hard to say ‘no,’” said Brack, who ended up winning one of the three four-year terms available that year.
Two seats on the board of five will be up for election in November. Katy Lee and Chresta Brinkman currently hold these seats.
While there were several candidates that time, it isn’t always easy to get people to run for school board in rural communities, as it is one of the only elected positions in Colorado that is unpaid. Still, in Steamboat, there has generally been more interest than other rural districts.
“In recent memory, we’ve had contested elections, which I think is a great thing,” Board President Kelly Latterman said. “I think people are interested in volunteering locally … they care about their schools, they are very engaged.”
To help recruit candidates and answer questions from those contemplating a run for the board, members of the school board are hosting an informational lunch from noon to 1 p.m. July 22 at the district’s administrative offices, 325 Seventh St.
Latterman said the event intends to cover the logistics of how to run for the board, a big-picture look at what it takes to serve on the board and reasons people might want to run. There will also be a time for questions.
“School board is a wonderful way to be civically engaged. It is an unpaid position as an elected official, which is unique,” Latterman said. “It is a nice way to dip your toe in the water in that regard.”
Latterman said there are several important dates people need to be aware of if they are interested in running. The first call for nominations for board seats is published Aug. 4, and an election resolution needs to be sent to the county clerk by Aug. 24. Candidate petitions to run for the board are due by Aug. 27, and the election will be Nov. 2.
Part of the process requires potential school board candidates to collect 100 signatures on a petition and return it to the district to get on the ballot.
What: Lunch with the School Board
When: Noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, July 22
Where: Steamboat Springs School District administrative offices, 325 Seventh St.
Brinkman said she tried to use that process as an opportunity to talk to people about what they felt she should know before running for the board. To this day, she has kept notes about what those people told her.
“It could be a quick 100 signatures, but for me, it was definitely an opportunity to get in front of people, listen to what matters to them and take that to shape my lens moving forward,” Brinkman said.
Several current board members said having the ability to step back and look at the big picture was a valuable skill, as well.
“It is not my job as a school board member to do other people’s jobs,” Brinkman said. “It is my job to make sure the superintendent is doing his job.”
For example, if a student has a problem with a teacher, Brack said sometimes a parent would reach out to the board about it, skipping several steps in the process. She said it is hard sometimes not to want to immediately start working to solve the issue, but board members need to recognize that isn’t their role.
The two biggest decisions they make as a board, Latterman said, have to do with the district’s budget and the superintendent, who is the only employee of the board.
“We do not get involved in personnel matters outside of the superintendent,” Latterman said.
Brack said through the process of running for school board in 2019, she learned a lot from various workshops hosted by the district, the Colorado Education Association and the Colorado Association of School Boards. She added that serving on the school board requires a significant amount of work.
“You will spend a couple hours a night responding to the emails,” Brack said. “It is a lot more time than I think it is sold as.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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Colorado updated its guidance for masks in schools Friday, suggesting school districts in the state should consider masks for the unvaccinated and, in areas of higher transmission like Routt County, masks for everyone.