Meet the East Grand School Board candidates
East Grand School District Candidate Forum
When: 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 22
Where: Middle Park High School auditorium
Moderated by MPHS civics students.
Name: Chip Besse
Years in Grand County: 5
Family: Wife, Melinda Besse 33; kids, Ryder 3, Ryan 1
District area: Tabernash (Incumbent)
How does your background prepare you for a school board position? I own and run a diversified business with more than 400 employees, I have children that will be part of the school system in two years and I have been on the board for two and a half years already.
What do you see as the most important issue facing the school district? Politicians and their unfunded mandates and a lack of funding.
Do you support the passage of Amendment 66? Please explain. I abstained in our recent school board vote. I believe that it is up to our local residents to fund local education. I have been involved in trying to push amendment 3A to improve technology in our local schools which I think will do much more for our kids than a blanket funding initiative at the state level. State School finance is deeply flawed and there are a number of inefficiencies in the system that haven’t been addressed as part of Amendment 66. The politicians answer is to throw money at the problem which will help but it doesn’t address the problems and more money at the state level will just add to the problems later until they are addressed. That being said, our county would be a big beneficiary and our school are underfunded. I am still researching the issue and am not sure how I will vote.
What are some ways, if any, that new technology should be integrated in schools? In all aspects – the idea of kids carrying around 8lbs text books is antiquated. Last year when we interviewed college freshman who had come through the district schooling they all unanimously agreed that they were under prepared for college from a technology standpoint. The rest of the world is going that way and we need to integrate technology into textbooks, homework and classrooms. Furthermore, I would like to see some intensive computer programming, computer science and robotics classes in curricula.
Name: Angel DeCicco
Years in Grand County: 7
Occupation: Business Owner, CARQUEST Auto Parts of Granby and Fraser
Family: Husband – John, Daughter – Madison (8th grade), Son – Matthew (6th grade)
District area: District 3
How does your background prepare you for a school board position? Since moving to Granby in 2006, I have been very active and involved in the school district as a classroom volunteer, PTA President as well as supporter, also a member of the District Accountability Committee. With this interaction both “hands on” in the schools with the teachers and students along with the school admin teams I can see both sides and work with them for the greater good of both to achieve great results, not just looking in from the outside. As a business owner, I have experience with budget awareness and fiscal responsibility as well as community interaction.
What do you see as the most important issue facing the school district? Lack of community and unity, as a district we need to work towards unity in vision and direction. The past 5 years attending school board meetings I have watched many issues come and go without much community input or concern until there is a problem. I feel we need to work towards more positive voices being heard so everyone has a vested interest in our children’s future, and that needs to trickle from administration to the students themselves, this would make us a more unified community and stronger going forward towards excellence in education for our whole community.
Do you support the passage of Amendment 66? Please explain. I agree with the idea of it because all school districts across Colorado are in desperate need of more money. However, as a business owner, I believe there could be a better way to get it without taxing our citizens to death most especially our business owners. So I would rather focus on passing our Technology Levy that would directly go to our students here in East Grand.
What are some ways, if any, that new technology should be integrated in schools? Currently to be able to bring new technology into our schools we must have the money to upgrade our infrastructure and equipment, so we need to vote YES on the Technology Mill Levy, this will enable us to purchase and install the needed upgrades to better serve our students and teachers so that they will have more access to educational resources that they will need to be able to compete and excel once they graduate from our schools. With better infrastructure and software our teachers and students can accomplish more each day to achieve more.
Name: Matthew J. Friesen
Years in Grand County: 6
Occupation: Senior Manager Division of Youth Corrections
Family: Married with 6 daughters ages 16, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8
District area: 3
How does your background prepare you for a school board position? I am employed by the Division of Youth Corrections and am responsible for a 12 million dollar budget. I participate on numerous boards that also administer grant funding. I regularly interact with school officials and educators across the state as well as locally. I participated in the Superintendent interview committee and I am the President of the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo board. I understand the importance of being fiscally responsible while insuring that children receive the services and support them need to be successful.
What do you see as the most important issue facing the school district? I would like to see the district continue to strive for a higher level of academic accreditation. Further, the communication between parents/community and the school board needs to be increased. Teacher pay has been static for several years and that impacts, morale, retention, and the ability to recruit high quality teachers into the district. I would also like to see the community more involved in the support of the schools, from attending sports activities to student theater, etc.
Do you support the passage of Amendment 66? Please explain. No, I don’t think attaching a fixed percentage of spending to the state budget makes any sense. Nearly two-thirds of the expected revenue is generated from the bottom two income levels and it seems unclear how the funds will actually be spent. I do support the local technology initiative. It is specific and time limited. Let’s take care of our students with a local initiative.
What are some ways, if any, that new technology should be integrated in schools? Technology needs to be integrated into every level of the educational system. It is vital that were ensure that our children locally have current technology to assist them in keeping up with the ever changing world around them. Falling behind in this arena is not acceptable and will only hinder their growth and ability to excel into their future. It will be important that we support both our educators and parents in this initiative.
Name: Michael Joseph Lohman
Residence: Winter Park Highlands
Years in Grand County: 10
Years in Grand County: retired teacher
Family: 2 sons and a daughter
District area: 3
How does your background prepare you for a school board position? I am a parent, a teacher and a coach. I enjoy the challenge of helping kids become their best. I have a Master’s degree in Education Administration and work currently a substitute teacher Pre School through High School. I value being a volunteer in our community at NSCD, Advocates Against Violence (honored as the Community Volunteer of the Year for 2012), YMCA, youth soccer, Grand Nordic, and the school district.
What do you see as the most important issue facing the school district? The most important issue facing schools today is trying to prepare our kids to be successful and responsible. The school should open the doors to options and opportunities for a quality life.
Do you support the passage of Amendment 66? Please explain. Amendment 66 is good for kids. I have seen the negative effect on kids and programs when school budgets have been cut. This amendment will help stabilize school finance by creating a fund to be used when the state budget has trouble funding K-12 education. I would like to see it pass.
What are some ways, if any, that new technology should be integrated in schools? Education is always changing. The new technology has created tools that help students develop in many ways. EGSD has worked hard to do the best for our kids I want to see the district continue to have the resources to use the new technologies to educate our kids.
Name: Mike McGinley
Years in Grand County: 25
Occupation: Retired Master Sergeant with the Colorado State Patrol for 30 years. Currently work part time for Home James Transportation during the ski season.
Family: My wife, Rosemarie, and two daughters.
District area: Granby
How does your background prepare you for a school board position? I graduated from high school in Akron, Colo. I attended Adams State University with majors of history and education and graduated in 1974 with a B.A. degree and a teaching certificate. I began my career with the Colorado State Patrol in 1976 in Steamboat Springs and worked as a trooper for 12 years. I was then promoted to Sergeant and assigned to Hot Sulphur where I supervised troopers in Grand and Jackson County and retired in 2006. During these years I spent a lot of time with ongoing education in various management training programs, learning how to keep other team members motivated and accountable for their responsibilities. The primary goal was always to motivate others to improve and achieve their goals and to help them improve any weaknesses they had to make everyone more self sufficient in the work place. I tried to look at each day as an opportunity for improvement.
What do you see as the most important issue facing the school district? The most important issue I feel with any educational system is the safety, well being, and the learning environment in schools. All employees from the superintendant to the last person to turn out the lights needs to be motivated, supported, and made to feel an integral part of the system. They need to hold themselves accountable for their responsibilities and feel proud of doing the best they can to prepare and educate the children in their care. Changes are being mandated for evaluations of teachers to ensure that the primary goal is always to instill knowledge and support of all the students. These changes should not be looked upon as a punishment system but as ways to achieve improvement. Each improvement plan should offer a way for the educator to learn better ways to teach and to improve the methods they have that already work well. As a board member it is part of my responsibility to assure that the superintendant holds the principals accountable to have positive opportunities for teachers and all employees to learn, grow, and improve.
Do you support the passage of Amendment 66? Please explain. This amendment is not perfect but having said that I will vote for it. It will provide needed funding for the students that are deemed high risk and for the preschool and kindergarten. It does not guarantee that student scores will improve but it does include a periodic study of academic achievement in the schools. It is also set up so that lower income taxpayers pay a lesser rate that higher income taxpayers. I have been attending the board meetings for the last couple of months and it is estimated that East Grand could receive up to $1 million in additional revenue to be used for educational purposes. It will not be used for “window dressing” that does not pertain directly to improved learning skills and habits.
What are some ways, if any, that new technology should be integrated in schools? Technology has always been an issue not only in schools but in homes and the workplace. We cannot ignore or pretend that we can continue with the older systems and still give our children a chance to succeed once they graduate. I can remember when my school went from manual typewriters to electric and many people then wondered why we had to have any typewriters at all. Most schools being built now are budgeted with electronic boards in all classrooms and individual pads for each student. The pads are being downloaded with textbooks, which saves money in purchasing hardcover books, and makes it easier to update them when needed. Many of our graduates have found that if they go on to college they need these type of devices to succeed and stay current with the demands of classroom assignments. Getting this technology is mandatory for the success of our students and getting it for the best value is the responsibility of the board and that is something I, as a board member, would take very seriously.
Name: Phyllis Price
Residence: Grand Lake
Years in Grand County: 6
Occupation: I am retired after 25+ years in education.
Family: I am married (Jim) and have one daughter (Melissa), son-in-law (Scott), and three granddaughters (Liley 8, Reilly 7, and Caitlyn 3).
District area: Grand Lake
How does your background prepare you for a school board position? I have 25+ years of experience in education. I have been a teacher, administrator, and Literacy/ESL Coordinator at East Grand for the past five years. I have also been an instructor for Adams State College, Morgan Community College, and University of Colorado. I have a passion for student learning and believe every child needs and deserves a high-quality education.
hem improve any weaknesses they had to make everyone more self sufficient in the work place. I tried to look at each day as an opportunity for improvement.
What do you see as the most important issue facing the school district? The most important issues facing East Grand School District are: (1) student achievement, (2) continuing budget issues and (3) obtaining and retaining high quality teachers.
Do you support the passage of Amendment 66? Please explain. This is a difficult question for me because I believe that our schools are underfunded and we need additional funding but I do not think Amendment 66 will fix this problem. Our communities are still struggling to recover and Amendment 66 will place an additional burden on our taxpayers and small businesses. According to information received at CASB (Colorado Association of School Boards) not every district that pays the additional taxes will receive the benefits of additional funding. We need to make sure that any tax increase benefits will enhance the education of our students while not overburdening our communities.
What are some ways, if any, that new technology should be integrated in schools? Technology affects every part of our lives. We need to make sure our students are prepared by providing quality instruction in the use of technology. To do that we need to have high-quality technology that works, is relevant to our world, with quality instruction in how to use the technology. Technology allows students to be prepared for the future by developing critical thinking skills while discovering new knowledge and information. Instruction should be integrated into our student’s daily educational experiences. To do this we need to insure our teachers are trained in the use of technology and have the necessary technology available to our students.
Name: Jerry Ray “Hub” Reed
Years in Grand County: 12
Occupation: I am retired after 32 years as a high school math and science teacher.
Family: Married to Mary with three grown children, Byron (36, Oklahoma City, OK), Kerrie (33, Ottawa, KS), and Blake (27, Stillwater, OK)
District area: District 3 school board member (Incumbent)
How does your background prepare you for a school board position? After teaching and coaching for 32 years, I understand from the inside of how a school is financed, the correct chain of command, the problems that teachers have, and the ins and outs of how the school operates daily as well as yearly. I served that last two years on the board as a payback for some of the really good school board members that I had.
What do you see as the most important issue facing the school district? The most important issue facing the school district is, in one word, money. We need to find the correct way to finance the district without causing real hardships on the people that pay for the education of our children.
Do you support the passage of Amendment 66? Please explain. I am in favor of Amendment 66. If Senate Bill 213 is to be implemented, then the tax hike from Amendment 66 needs to be passed to finance the changes for school funding. One item I like is that Colorado would be free of Amendment 23 where funding for schools would not go below inflation. If times get really tough and Colorado is down money-wise then school funding will be tough. With the amount of money to be raised by Amendment 66, I know some people that make over $75,000 will be hit hard with the 5.9 percent tax. But overall it is an investment in the future of the education of the children of Colorado.
What are some ways, if any, that new technology should be integrated in schools? One of the concerns with new technology in schools is making sure that the teachers are ready to teach with a change in the way they teach. Technology does not replace good teachers, but it is paired with good teachers to make students successful. Teachers teach the way that students learn and students of today are digital learners, so teachers must be digital teachers. How are districts going to make sure all students have access to individual devices? Do the students supply their own devices or does the district supply them? I believe the district should make sure each student has access to the devices that are used in new technology.
West Grand School District candidate responses will appear in the Friday, Oct. 18 edition of Sky-Hi News.
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