On Tuesday, Nov. 5, voters will decide the next three seat holders on the Roaring Fork School District Board of Education. The school district, which is made up of Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt, is divided into five director districts. Candidates running for election must reside in their respective sub-district, but the RFSD electorate as a whole votes on each seat.
Seats for districts B, C and D are open currently. District B is made up of the areas west of Highways 133 and 82 from Carbondale to Glenwood Springs, including Ironbridge/West Bank and Four Mile. District C involves the south and east sections of Glenwood Springs, Spring Valley and western Missouri Heights. Finally, District D includes north and west sections of Glenwood Springs.
According to the Roaring Fork School District’s website, the Board of Education “determines district policies and provides strategic guidance to ensure every student develops the enduring knowledge, skills and character to thrive in a changing world.”
Board members are community representatives who help the school system operate. The board concerns itself primarily with adopting policy, planning school services and evaluating the quality and effectiveness of district services. Community members should have received ballots in the mail and have an opportunity to vote for the individual they feel best represents the district.
The Board of Education meets regularly during the school year — typically on the second and fourth Wednesdays, starting at 5:30 p.m. All regular meetings are open to the public. In this year’s election, three candidates are running for the District D seat, two for C, and two for B.
The following individuals are running for the above-mentioned seats:
Currently running as the incumbent for the District D seat, Shane Larson has been on the school board for nearly four years and is the vice president of student affairs at Colorado Mountain College. He has lived in the Valley for six years, where his children attended the Glenwood schools.
Larson says he is running for re-election because he enjoys the work the position brings and although he feels some good work has been done since he first took the seat, he believes there is more to do like improving teacher pay, possibly through a mill levy, but more importantly address the issue at a state level. As a former teacher, Larson has worked in higher education for over 20 years. He would like to see the district consider more educational opportunities for students to gain a skill and go to work after high school.
Amy Connerton is running for the District D seat against incumbent Shane Larson. She is currently an associate professor at Colorado Mountain College teaching in Allied Health, and works shifts at Valley View Hospital’s Roaring Fork Family Practice. She has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for 32 years, and in Glenwood since 2007, where her daughters have attended public school.
Connerton said she is running to ensure every student is fully prepared for the next stage of their life through education quality and equity, which she defines as providing the opportunities, support, environment, high expectations and resources that every student needs to achieve educational success, and contribute to a thriving community. She holds an AAS from CMC, a BA from CMU, an MA from NAU and a doctorate of education through the University of Denver.
A first-generation graduate of Glenwood Springs High School, Jasmin Ramirez is running for the District D seat against incumbent Larson. She and her husband have lived in the valley for 13 years with their two children, one of whom is a fourth grader who has autism.
She has sat on the coordinating committee for the Board of Trustees and been a member of school PTA for five years. Ramirez stated she is grateful for the public school system, which provides security with regard to her son’s well-being and hopes to bring diversity to a board that represents a demographic that is 58 percent minority students and more than 55 percent Latino. Her main priority is to help all students, parents and teachers feel like collaborators in their school community, and listen to the different needs of all 13 school districts by treating them individually rather than as a generalized whole.
Running unopposed, Natalie Torres is running for the District B seat, which was previously held by Matt Hamilton until he resigned earlier this year. She works as College Registrar at Colorado Mountain College and moved with her husband to Glenwood Springs 12 years ago. Her two children both attend Riverview.
In her position at CMC, she is required to stay updated on state and federal regulations and guidelines that influence decision making processes. She is bilingual and running for the District B seat because she cares deeply and wants to give back to the community by helping best prepare students for the future. At this time, she does not have a specific solution to increase teacher pay, but would use her position as a board member to better understand and find solutions.
Matt Corva, running as a write-in for District B, has indicated to local news sources he is not actively campaigning.
Maureen Stepp, running for the District C seat, has been an educator and administrator for over 15 years. She has a doctorate in education and participated in Sen. Rankin’s Education Leadership Council last year. Currently she is a professor and administrator at Colorado Mountain College.
Stepp has lived nine years in Glenwood Springs and is a parent of a middle-school child. She would use her position to help retain current teachers and hire more teachers to add to the diversity of the community, mentioning it is more difficult to recruit diverse students.
She would like to explore ways to increase support and mental health services and increase access to dual-enrollment opportunities for students to take advantage of receiving free college credit while in high school. Stepp acknowledges Colorado is one of the lowest in the country for per-pupil spending and for teacher pay, so she wants to collaborate with other local districts and organizations to help drive policy change.
Molly Peterson is running as a write-in candidate for District C. She has lived in the valley for almost 11 years. Currently, she works for Edward Jones, but was previously a teacher for the last 10 years, first at Rifle Middle School, then Riverside Middle School and Glenwood Middle School. She is running to represent educators in the area and be a voice for teachers and support staff. Her priority is to put the needs of the children first and push bilingual education programs.
Peterson said she believes that as the community grows, so should the district in order to make changes best suited for teachers and students. Her solution is to observe districts that have been successful in making these changes.