Three of the five Roaring Fork Schools Board of Education seats are up for election on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
The school district, which encompasses Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, and Basalt, is divided into five director districts. Candidates must reside in that sub-district, but the whole RFSD electorate votes on each seat.
Three candidates are on the ballot for District D, which includes north and west sections of Glenwood Springs. Amy Connerton and Jasmin Ramirez are challenging incumbent Shane Larson.
Connerton has a doctorate in education and is an associate professor at Colorado Mountain College, teaching in the Allied Health Education Programs. Connerton has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for 32 years and in Glenwood Springs since 2007. She has two daughters attending Glenwood Springs High School. She believes the school board’s role includes “working with and evaluating the superintendent (and) serving as advocates for all children.” She states, “I believe my strong desire for student success and personal commitment to stay the course rather than succumb to the lure of a quick fix will allow the board to be more focused and effective.”
Larson has served on the school board for nearly four years. He is vice president of student affairs at Colorado Mountain College and a former middle school math teacher. He has two daughters at Glenwood Springs High School and a son at Glenwood Springs Middle School.
He noted that working with many RFSD high school graduates at CMC has enabled him to bring to the school board “a view on [the] transition for students from high school into higher ed.” The local teachers’ union, Roaring Fork Community Education Association, has endorsed Larson.
Ramirez has worked as a preschool teacher for the Valley Settlement’s Busesito program, a bilingual teacher at CMC Mini College, and a secretary for the school district and Two Rivers Charter School. She has two children, including a fourth-grader who has an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Ramirez says, “The Roaring Fork School District is made up of 58 percent minority students, more than 55 percent … being Latino students. I hope to be a voice for that community across the district by highlighting the current diverse experience of our Latino families within our public schools.” Ramirez seeks to bring representation to the experiences of special needs children and their parents as well.
The District B seat encompasses the areas west of Highways 133 and 82 from Carbondale to Glenwood Springs, including Ironbridge/West Bank and Four Mile. The seat, which is currently vacant, was held by Matt Hamilton before he resigned earlier this year.
Candidates for District B are Natalie Torres and write-in Matthew Cova.
When The Sopris Sun contacted Cova for an interview and photo, he responded that he is “not actively campaigning.”
Torres lives in Glenwood Springs. She has worked in higher education for 12 years and currently works as the College Registrar at Colorado Mountain College. She has two children at Riverview School. Torres has coached her daughter’s soccer team and Girls on the Run group. Torres says, “School board members need to listen and understand the needs of their communities and collaboratively work towards finding solutions. I understand that communication is key when working with diverse groups of people and important for maintaining valuable partnerships.”
In District C — encompassing the south and east sections of Glenwood Springs, Spring Valley, and western Missouri Heights — Maureen Stepp is on the ballot and Molly Peterson is running as a write-in candidate.
Molly Peterson works for Edward Jones investment firm and is a former teacher who taught in Rifle and Glenwood Springs. Peterson states, “I am running for [the] school board to represent the educators of our area and be a voice for our teachers and support staff. Having personally been a teacher for ten years in our area schools, my first-hand experiences working in classrooms, on instructional leadership teams, and on district content teams are perspectives our decision-makers need to consider.”
Stepp has a doctorate in education and has been an educator and administrator for the past 15 years. Last year, she participated in State Senator Bob Rankin’s Education Leadership Council. She has a son attending a district school. Stepp says, “I see the role of the school board as a collaborative, supportive role, to help the school district administration do their jobs more effectively, to be a voice for teachers, parents, and community members, and to research and find examples of innovative, effective programs to bring to the district.”
The Roaring Fork Schools and Roaring Fork Community Education Association are co-hosting a Board of Education candidate forum from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23 at Bridges High School (444 Weant Blvd.). The forum will be live-streamed at facebook.com/RoaringForkSchoolDistrict. Cova and Peterson are not planning to participate.