Vote 2011: School Districts



Boulder Valley School District

Director District A

In BVSD District A, Shelly Benford
is running uncontested. Benford, 55, is a leadership consultant with 12
years’ involvement with her children’s schools. She proposes smaller
classes and says the bureaucracy surrounding education must be reduced.

Director District C

Laurie Albright x

Leisha Conners Bauer

Incumbent Laurie Albright, running
for her second four-year term for the school board, has decades of
experience in education. She’s worked as a career counselor in higher
education and volunteered with K-12 education in Boulder. She’s
currently on the board of directors of the Colorado Association of
School Boards. Albright, 60, is a community activist and volunteer who
says the biggest priority for the school district is “a severe funding
cut” that could gut the district’s budget by several million dollars.
She advocates for Proposition 103, state Sen. Rollie Heath’s proposal to
increase taxes to fund education, as the best budget solution
available. To address lower test scores among minority students,
Albright has four solutions: a longer school day or school year; support
for early education, like last year’s ballot measure to increase
pre-school and kindergarten funding; providing a caring adult educator
to every student; and maintaining high expectations for all students.

Her challenger, Leisha Conners Bauer,
has 15 years of experience working in education. She is the program
manager for the Boulder County Healthy Youth Alliance and has worked
with the school district for eight years. Conners Bauer, 50, previously
managed a program to provide assistance to first-generation college
students at CU. She says the way the district responds to challenges is
more important than the challenges themselves. The district must set the
right tone with families, teachers and the
She advocates for “collaboration, leadership, advocacy and systems
change.” She says raising the school performance of minority students is
about more than the students’ race, and socioeconomics is a factor as
well. Addressing the achievement gap could also mean “addressing the
poverty [that] exists in our community and its impact on students and
families,” she says. She also names early childhood education and parent
involvement as important issues, as well as teacher training and school

In this election, finances and experience
have to take center stage. Conners Bauer has great ideas about the
school district’s communication, and she’s most likely right about how
to reduce the achievement gap for minority students. But Albright’s
intense focus on the budget woes facing Colorado schools is the better
choice in a budget crisis. Her leadership and experience in education
cannot be overlooked. We endorse Laurie Albright for school board in
District C.

Director District D

Sam Fuqua x

Mónica Olguín

Two candidates are vying for the District D school board seat vacated by current President Ken Roberge. Sam Fuqua
has experience working with the Crest View PTA and has served several
civic organizations, including KGNU Radio, the Boulder Library
Commission and the Affordable Housing Task Force. Fuqua, 47, is the
station manager for KGNU. He says the greatest challenge for the
district is financial stability and generating revenue, and he supports
Proposition 103. He also says the state must rectify conflicts among
TABOR, the Gallagher Amendment and Amendment 23. Overcrowding is a
danger in some schools, he says, and can destroy a sense of community.
To improve minority education, Fuqua says, the district should review
its current practices targeting minority students and establish which
are the most effective, then adapt them to other schools, which will
improve outcomes. Early childhood education is critical, he says, and
Boulder’s 2010 mill levy was “a smart choice.”

His opponent, Mónica Olguín, has
30 years of experience in education, including bilingual education,
teacher training and volunteering. Olguín, 59, is a retired teacher from
Columbine Elementary School. She says the school district must build
communication and trust with the community. As the district tackles
financial stability, the achievement gap and educator-effectiveness
standards, she says it must communicate its decisions effectively.
Olguín says that as the board implements a new educator effectiveness
law, it must emphasize the basic purpose of improving teaching and
learning. As a bilingual Latina educator, she understands how board
decisions will affect teachers and families, she says. Communication
with diverse communities should be a top priority for the board, she
says. To improve test scores of minority students, Olguín says teacher
and principal training is important, as well as tracking students’
growth over time rather than just checking annual scores.

A race with two newcomers rarely offers
this depth of experience and insight. Fuqua demonstrates an excellent
grasp of the district’s financial hardships and an understanding of
Boulder schools from a parent’s perspective. As a retired educator,
Olguín knows the teachers’ angle, and shows a real commitment to open

This is a tough choice, since both
candidates are highly qualified, but we have to give a slight lean
toward Fuqua because of his track record and his performance in other
civic positions.

Director District G

In Boulder Valley School District G,
incumbent Jim Reed is running uncontested. Reed, 41, is a manager at
biotech company SomaLogic. He says the district must repair trust with
the groups it represents and must work with the community to solve
budget issues.

Park School District R-3,

School Director At Large

Three people are running unopposed for
three board seats in this school district, a small portion of which is
in Boulder County. Members serve a four-year term.

All three are Estes Park residents. Marie Richardson, an incumbent, is vice president of the board and is a local veterinarian who has two kids in the district. Cody Walker, 42, rents horses at Sombrero Stables, which his family has owned since 1959. And Patricia Wedan, 64, worked in the Park School District for 32 years and now helps run a concession stand in town with the Lyons Club.

Park School District R-3 Ballot Issue 2B

Yes No

This initiative would increase property
taxes to raise up to $750,000 annually for the next three years to boost
school funding. Bob Richardson, chair of the proponent group Citizens
for Estes Schools, says the tax would amount to between $3 and $4 more
per month for a $350,000 home. According to the ballot question, the
funds would be used to help the district offer competitive compensation
to retain its employees, reduce the need to dip into reserve funds, and
restore budget cuts made in curricular and instructional materials,
professional development, technology, infrastructure and capital
projects. Proponents say the funding is needed not to expand offerings,
but simply to maintain the status quo in the district, given recent
declines in revenue. Opponents argue that an economic downturn is not
the time to raise taxes, and that if the statewide ballot issue
Proposition 103 passes, it would provide the necessary funding for

We tend to think that investing in
education is a good way to jumpstart an economy, and given recent state
budget cuts to education, the Park School District clearly needs this
funding to avoid falling even further behind. There’s no guarantee that
Proposition 103 will pass, so it’s ridiculous for opponents of this
increase to pin other people’s hopes on a source of revenue that may
never exist. Vote YES.

St. Vrain Valley School District

District A

Rick Hammans x

Arnold Hanuman

Incumbent Rick Hammans, 54, a
custom furniture maker and retired teacher, says that finances are the
biggest issue facing the St. Vrain Valley School District as it has seen
less money coming in from the state in the past two years, despite a
growth in student population. He has worked at both the state and
federal levels to seek relief from unfunded mandates, he says, and to
ensure that legislation is in the best interest of the district. He says
that the district needs to continue to provide the resources that will
allow all of the district’s schools to attain a top rating in
accreditation. He says he brings a different point of view to the board
because of his background as a teacher and an administrator.

Arnold Hanuman, 40, is a deputy
district attorney with the Boulder Country District Attorney’s office.
As a parent of two children in the district, he says, he can bring
informed and consequential decisions to the board. He says that
reallocation of resources are necessary to ensure financially sound
footing, and that these decisions should be based on the impact of
student achievement. It is important to nurture the ideas of teachers,
parents, administrators and the community about how to address educating
children in a technologically evolving and globally competitive
environment, he says. His experience in both law and global management
will be relevant to the challenges that the district faces, he says.

While Arnold Hanuman has many great
solutions to key issues and has a strong background in leadership, Rick
Hammans brings five years of experience on the board, including two as
vice president, and is a member of the board of directors of the
Colorado Association of School Boards. Vote for Rick Hammans.

District C

Robert Smith, 64, is the owner of
Huntington Learning Centers of Longmont and Fort Collins, and is the
project director of health care payment reform at the Colorado Business
Group on Health. He lives in Longmont, and is running uncontested.

District E

John Creighton, 47, works in nonpartisan public opinion research and lives in Longmont. He is running uncontested.

District G

Michael Schiers, 49, works for the DIRECTV operations center. He lives in Frederick, and is running uncontested.

Thompson School District

District A

Kathleen Hatanaka

Lola Johnson x

Kathleen Hatanaka, 47, is a
homemaker in Loveland. Hatanaka describes herself as very active in the
community as PTA president at Big Thompson Elementary, a member of the
Big T Cultivation Committee and a member of the Thompson School District
Master Plan Committee. If elected, Hatanaka says she hopes to help the
district achieve the goals set in the Vision 2020 plan, increase
transparency around the decision-making process, and provide programs to
help students prepare for the future.

Lola Johnson, 59, is the
incumbent in this race, with five years of experience on the school
board. She was born in Loveland and attended school in TSD, as did both
of her daughters. Johnson says her leadership skills and experience on
the board will be needed in the coming years. If elected, Johnson says
hopes to reduce bullying, improve educational programs and continue to follow the Vision 2020 strategic plan.

Hatanaka is an active volunteer in TSD, but with severe
budget cuts affecting the district, we feel Johnson’s experience gives
her the advantage in this election. Vote for Lola Johnson for TSD District A.

District B

Janice Marchman, 38, is a full-time volunteer and mom. She is running unopposed for the District B seat.

District C

Denise Montague, 42, is running
unopposed for the District C seat. She works in community relations at
Uptown Auto, where she is also office manager. She is also the race
director of the Loveland Classic.

District D

Leslie Young, a Loveland police officer, is running unopposed for the District D seat.

District G

Bob Kerrigan

Karen Stockley x

Bob Kerrigan, 50, is a project
engineer in Berthoud. He says his background in the private sector gives
him an understanding of the importance of public school improvement.
Kerrigan says his technology background and his planning and execution
capabilities will help the district move into the technology
environment. If elected, Kerrigan says, he wants to grow the district
into one of the best in the state, maintain a sustainable revenue
system, and produce highly educated students ready to succeed in a
global economy.

Karen Stockley, 49, owns Front
Range Antiques and is the incumbent and treasurer of the TSD Board of
Education. Stockley says her experience sets her apart from her
opponent, especially considering the learning curve involved in
education issues. If elected, Stockley says, she hopes to close the
achievement gap between students to increase graduation rates and to
continue her work on finding ways to increase funding to the district.

Kerrigan is ambitious, but does not seem
to have a clear plan to achieve his goals. We think Stockley’s
experience with the board will help her successfully meet the district’s
needs. Vote for Karen Stockley for TSD District G.

Thompson School

District Issue 3A



This ballot issue, if passed, will
increase property taxes in to provide revenue to Thompson School
District schools. The total levy sought is $12.8 million. This will
translate into homeowners paying roughly $6.67 a month per $100,000 of
their assessed property value. The levy is in response to state budget
cuts over the past three years that resulted in more than $18.7 million
of lost funds.

The majority of the revenue received from
the levy will be focused on preserving and restoring staff and academic
programs. The remainder will be used to expand academic programs to
prepare students for college or the workforce and to provide equal
access to classroom technology. Proponents say the levy is needed to
maintain the quality of education in the district, and without it, the
budget cuts will begin having a significant impact on students in the
classroom. Opponents have a problem with the transparency of the
district and say it is difficult to tell if this levy is really needed.

On this, we agree with the proponents.
It’s clear that Colorado’s budget crisis is having an impact on our
public schools. The state continues to decrease funds for education, so
someone else needs to invest in these kids. Vote YES on Ballot Issue 3A.