Seven candidates vie for four vacancies on Meeker school board

MEEKER I There will be seven candidates vying for four seats on the Meeker School District RE-1 Board of Trustees in the Nov. 5 general election.
Bill deVergie is the only incumbent who will appear on the ballot, and he will face challenges from candidates Dan Chinn, Carly Thompson, George Henderson, Todd Shults, Kristen Eskelson and Bud Ridings.
Prior to the election, the Meeker Education Association will host an open forum on Oct. 17 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Meeker High School cafeteria, and the public is invited and urged to attend.
Incumbent board members Iris Franklin, Paul Neilson and Jerry Oldland have announced plans to not seek re-election to the board. Franklin is currently president of the board.
deVergie, the lone incumbent seeking re-election, is the area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the Meeker district. He has been on the board for one complete four-year term.
Asked why he is running for re-election, deVergie said, “I would like to see some continuity with the teachers, staff and administration. I also believe in the importance of a good education for all our kids, and I want to help with that.”
Regarding what he would like to see accomplished in his next four-year term, deVergie said, “I hope to be able to find some way to increase funding for the district.
“I think it is important to get out of this deficit spending of the past few years, and that would help the district, the teachers, the staff and the students push our entire education program forward,” he said.
“I would also like to see some consistency with the administration, teachers and staff,” deVergie said. “We’ve had lots of turnover in the past four years and we would all gain by seeing more consistency in the personnel.”
Carly Thomson is a stay-at-home mom and she has lived in the Meeker area since 2006.
Asked why she is running for the Meeker School Board, Thomson said, “I care a lot about education, and since I am not directly in the system as administrator, teacher or staff, it is the best way I can think of to become involved.”
Asked what she hopes to get accomplished in her first four-year term on the board, Thompson said, “I want to make the entire district a happy place for the kids to be on a day-to-day basis.”
Dan Chinn is currently retired after 30 years in the education field. He has served as principal, a coach, a counselor and as a teacher and now does part-time work counseling with Mind Springs, formerly known as Colorado West Regional Mental Health.
Chinn has lived in the Meeker area for four years and has two children in the Meeker School District, while his wife, Amy, is employed at Meeker High School.
Chinn is running for a seat on the school board because he and Amy decided to raise their two kids in Meeker and “We want to see this become the best school district in the state.”
“I believe in public education, as it has made all the difference in the world to me,” he said. “I have experience at all levels of public education and I want to help make this district the best it can be for all the kids.”
Asked what he hopes to accomplish in his first four-year term, Chinn said, “There are a lot of things I would like to see happen.”
“I would like to see significant progress toward this becoming the best small school district in the state in academics and in extra-curricular activities,” Chinn said. “I see these two things going hand in hand; they are both important and I believe make one compete package because where you see good academics, you often see a strong extra-curricular program as well, and I don’t mean just sports.
“As a former coach, I have seen where coaches have had very strong impacts on the students,” he said. “And I believe we have the demographics here to make a big difference. Never have I seen a school district where the community has done so much to support the schools as here in Meeker.”
Bud Ridings is an operator with White River Electric Association. He has lived in Northwest Colorado for 51 years and in Meeker for 38.
Ridings said there are “lots of reasons” why he is running for a seat on the Meeker School board.
“Most importantly, I am not sure that the kids are getting a good education here; one that is preparing them to go on to college,” he said. “I would like to see more district attention going toward preparing the students to go on toward higher education.
“I look at my own two kids, who took math placement tests at college after taking advanced math classes at Meeker High School, and the college put both of them in the lowest level of math classes available.”
Asked what he hopes to accomplish in his first four-year term on the Meeker board, Riding said, “There has been a lot of known turmoil within the various schools in the district and I would hope to play a role in ending these problems in the next four years and see that everyone at all levels are going in the same direction.”
Kristen Eskelson, owns Rocky Mountain Bowstrings, has lived in the Meeker area for seven years.
“I am really interested in helping out with the school district,” she said. “The three members of the board who are not running again have put in their years and I believe it is my turn to do what I can.
“The schools here are facing lots of challenges that won’t be easy to meet, and I want to help.”
Asked what she hopes to accomplish in her first four-year term, Eskelson said, “I would hope to help the district become more stable and I would like to see the teachers happier because the teacher survey this past year indicated there were a lot of problems.
“I would like to see increased excellence at the education level to push the students,” he said. “And I really would like to see the district have a better financial foundation for the benefit of all.
Todd Shults, a rancher who has lived in the Meeker area all of his 44 years, says he has a double reason for wanting to run for a seat on the school board.
Shults said his grandfather was on the school board (“a long, long time ago”) and that after skipping one generation, he would like to “continue the legacy of helping out the local school district.”
He also said, “Those who asked me to run pointed out that I have no direct ties to the school district so I don’t have pre-set agenda. They also pointed out that someone on the board with an agricultural background would be a good thing.”
Regarding what he hopes to accomplish in his first four-year term, Shults said, “I understand that trust and morale are very low within the school district and at many of the schools, and I would hope to make an issue of that in school conversations.
“There appears to be a lot of discontent, and there needs to be much more open conversation between all levels of administration, staff and instructors,” he said. “It happens with many businesses, but I would like to see progress in bringing everyone closer together so everyone in the district benefits.”
Besides, he said, “I also feel we have got to have younger people on board.”
George Henderson, who has lived in the Meeker area for the past five years, is currently a math teacher at Rifle High School.
Asked why he was running for a seat on the Meeker School Board, Henderson said, “I have been in education as a teacher and principal for 20 years, and I believe I can use that experience to benefit the district and its students.”
Henderson also has three objectives he would like to accomplish during his first four-year term, if elected.
“I really want to create a district where discussions are based on what is best for the students,” he said.
“I want to create a district where people are truly held accountable for their decisions or lack of decisions,” he added.
“And I want to create a district with improved communications between the district and the public,” Henderson said.