Board candidates make views known

openbookRBC I Editor’s note: Candidates in the Nov. 3 election for positions on the Meeker and Rangely school boards were asked to respond to general questions about their qualifications and why they are running for office. The responses that were received appear in alphabetical order, first for Meeker, then for Rangely.

Meeker School Board
Bill de Vergie
(challenger)
Job title: Area wildlife manager, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Meeker.
Describe your background and how it relates to your interest in education:
Bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado in biology and master’s degree from Colorado State University in wildlife biology. I have worked for the CDOW for over 18 years and have been a supervisor for seven years. Based on my past, I feel education is very important for the future of our kids.
What are your reasons for running for the school board?
If elected, I hope to bring a diverse background to the school board. As a professional and manager/supervisor for a state agency, I deal with personnel issues, budgets and managing employees on a daily basis and I hope this experience can provide a different perspective on situations facing the board. I believe the role of the school board is critical to the education of our youth and I hope to be able to participate in the process.
What are the most pressing issues you see facing the school district?
Making sure our teachers are equipped with the best training and technology needed to teach our youth. One of the roles of the school board is to help provide the resources needed so our teachers can perform at their highest level whether that is school facilities, classroom materials or updated educational training. I also feel the school board needs to provide the broad policies and directives to the teachers and administrators and then let them teach.
School funding is a major concern. What are your thoughts on this challenging issue?
With the economy of today, adequate funding is a real challenge. I believe the schools need to look at alternative funding through grants or outside sources whenever possible and evaluate current educational practices to make sure they are operating as efficiently as possible. There is never enough funding, so the school board needs to make sure that what funding is available is used effectively.

Iris Franklin
Job Title: Colorado Northwestern Community College Meeker Center coordinator.
Describe your background and how it relates to your interest in education:
Education has been my passion for the past 40 years, starting as a CSU Extension Service Agent working with adults and 4-H members. Teaching adult education classes through the school district and substitute teaching renewed my interest in teaching in the high school. A 20-year career as the Meeker High School Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher and Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) adviser was very rewarding.
During my teaching career, involvement in the district included the District Curriculum Council, Principal’s Advisory Committee for several principals, Health Content Committee, HS Building Accountability, principal and superintendent selection committees, and Meeker District Long-Range Planning Committee. These experiences were beneficial in providing a broad understanding of school district issues from a different side of the board table. Since retiring as a high school teacher, I have had the privilege of serving as the Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) Meeker Center coordinator. Community education classes, academic classes and working with high school staff and students in the dual enrollment college/high school classes encompasses yet another realm of education interest.
What are your reasons for running for the school board?
The children of our community are our future. They deserve the best education we can provide as a community to assure their highest potential for success. My experiences in education are somewhat unique in that they provide an understanding of school issues from a different vantage position than most board members.
Serving on the Citizens for Meeker Schools Committee, to work on the bond issue last year, was challenging and sparked my interest in applying for the open board position last winter. It has been very exciting to be involved in watching the construction of the new elementary school progress so rapidly. As an appointed member of the board, since February, I have been in learning mode with the many facets involved in a board position. I look forward to serving the Meeker community to provide a quality education for our young people, if elected.
What are the most pressing issues you see facing the school district?
Communication with parents, community, town boards and districts and county commissioners is very important. All are working with taxpayers’ funds and all decisions and transactions should be as transparent as possible within the limitations of the law. Cooperation is very important in order to ensure that district business is well managed.
We are blessed with high-quality staff and administrators and need to continue working to provide opportunities for staff development to keep instruction and curriculum on the cutting edge. Technology improvements have been ongoing, but are always changing and must be continually addressed to prepare students for the 21st century.
Finances are always an issue, especially at the present time, with the statewide budget crisis. Tough decisions will be on the horizon unless someone hits the lottery and feels benevolent toward the district, which is not likely. It will be crucial to keep in mind that decisions are based on what is best for students. Creative solutions will be needed to address budget needs.
School funding is a major concern. What are your thoughts on this challenging issue?
The state school finance committee and ultimately the state legislators have an overwhelming task to restore stability to school funding. Trying to work with state constitution amendments, Gallagher, TABOR and Amendment 23, which conflict with each other, will be challenging, to say the least. It is a good example of why constitutional amendments can be very dangerous. These examples appeared to be the answer at the time they were passed, but now are creating havoc. School districts are getting bad news every week as far as budget issues. The state will be offering interest-free loans to school districts that will be using reserves to pay bills as tax revenue will be coming in only twice a year.
The school funding issue is definitely a major concern and will bear watching as the year progresses. It will require prudent spending decisions and perhaps some creative planning to fund some of our school district needs and wants.

Paul Neilson
Job title: Veterinarian.
Describe your background and how it relates to your interest in education:
My background includes an undergraduate and graduate degree from Colorado State University. Since graduation I have spent the last 26 years practicing veterinary medicine. I would have been unable to pursue this career without the opportunities others made possible to me in public education. As a result, I feel any person should have the opportunity to receive an education allowing them to pursue a career of their choice.
What are your reasons for running for the school board?
I have served on the Meeker School Board for the past six years and believe it is important for citizens to be involved in the education of our young people. The success the students will ensure the strength of our community and country in the future. I also believe fiscal responsibility is necessary to insure the education system will serve the students well into the future.
What are the most pressing issues you see facing the school district?
I feel the most pressing issue facing the school district is our ability to recruit and retain high quality teaching and administrative staff. This is due to my basic belief that the most important factor leading to outstanding student achievement is the quality of their teachers.
School funding is a major concern. What are your thoughts on this challenging issue?
Currently, the state of Colorado is experiencing extremely large budget shortfalls. As a result, I do not foresee our schools receiving funding even to the levels we now experience from the state. We may be forced to decrease our expenditures and will need to pursue additional revenues through grants and gifts. The district has been extremely fortunate in receiving large grants and gifts, and the taxpayers have always supported the students’ needs in this community in the past. I believe this school district will provide for high-quality education of their students, regardless of state funding due to teacher quality and community support.

Jerry Oldland
Job title: Cattle rancher.
Describe your background and how it relates to your interest in education:
I graduated from Meeker High School and then attended Colorado State University graduating with a B.S. in ag business. I have worked with energy developing companies, business leaders and many people in the livestock industry. The importance of an education is apparent, the more education that a person has, whether it is college or vocational, the more opportunities they have for employment.
What are your reasons for running for the school board?
I would like to finish the construction of the new elementary school, but more importantly, I would like to continue the programs that we have implemented to improve our CSAP scores.
What are the most pressing issues you see facing the school district?
Our low CSAP scores in some grades and the state’s inability to finance education.
School funding is a major concern. What are your thoughts on this challenging issue?
The state needs to establish a favorable climate for businesses to thrive, which will lead to better employment opportunities. This would increase the state’s tax revenue, so more funds will be available for education in our local schools.
Ben Rogers
Job title: Cattle rancher.
Describe your background and how it relates to your interest in education:
My great-grandma, grandma and mom all taught and were involved in the school. I went to school in Meeker from kindergarten all the way through graduation and then to NJC and Cal-Poly. I was able to go to good schools after my high school years because of this community and school and want to help ensure all of the Meeker students have the same opportunities and options I had.
What are your reasons for running for the school board?
I am a strong advocate for getting as much money into the classrooms to directly influence the Meeker students’ education.
What are the most pressing issues you see facing the school district?
Limited federal and state funding and to continue providing small student-to-teacher ratios in classrooms and keep adequately staffing our buildings with limited budgets.
School funding is a major concern. What are your thoughts on this challenging issue?
It’s a matter of need. We have to look for other avenues to help fund education, where at a local level it is through private foundation. At a state and national level, we need to look for ways to seek more grant money that might be available. We also need to work harder at trying to keep our severance monies from oil and gas in the counties that are most directly affected by these companies.

Rangely School Board
Adair Norman
Describe your background and how it relates to your interest in education:
Like a lot of people I became more occupied with education when my children began their schooling. I have always been involved in community service and after volunteering in the schools then on the PAC committees, I felt that the school board was the best place for my energy and enthusiasm. Though my children have graduated I still have that strong desire to help with the education process. I am finishing my first full term on the board and believe that direction we are headed is the right one, but more work needs to be done.
What are your reasons for running for the school board?
Schools are in the business of educating kids and that is always the most pressing issue. To give the kids the best education, we need to do our part to help and support the teachers and administration of the district. The largest constraint is the amount of money available to the district from the state. Even though the patrons of our district are very supportive of the schools financially our general education funding is still limited by the state. We have to continue to seek more opportunities financially and find more ways to save money, while at the same time giving our kids a better education. That is what is expected from the community and that is what I expect.

Rebecca Rector
(challenger)
Job title: Nurse
What are your reasons for running for the school board?
I’m running to try and make a difference, that will bring back some of that “old school spirit” and that drive to make good students out of all our kids.
What are the most pressing issues you see facing the school district?
Keeping our teachers for longevity, which then keeps our students interested in learning and striving for the best.
School funding is a major concern. What are your thoughts on this challenging issue?
Our school funding is always an issue, which we need to jump on and get grants that will make a difference in our schools. If we have to camp out at our legislators’ doors and make a few trips to Denver, that’s what we will have to do.