Charter school holds election

Four candidates seeking one position


— The charter school has four candidates vying for one position on the North Routt Charter School Board of Education.

North Routt residents will vote from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Clark Store for Hillary Ackerman, Dan Dean, Chris Gander or Mary Walker.

"We are really excited I can't even decide who I am going to vote for," said Shaunna Watterson, North Routt Charter School board president.

She said the school is fortunate to have such high quality candidates with sincere interests to serve in the best interest of both the school and community.

She said she was glad to see that half the candidates do not have children but are running to ensure the community-based school succeeds.

"I think (the school) has been a positive addition and will continue to be," she said.

The current board has four members; Mike Swinsick, Nancy White, Watterson and Barb Lynn.

The board will function with five members after the election.

Everyone on the board is required to live in the North Routt area.

The school has made great strides and continues to thrive with the support of the community, Watterson said.

People eligible to vote Saturday include parents or guardians of NRCCS students, charter school staff, board members and mentors, and registered voters of the North Routt Fire Protection District.

Watterson said once the new board member is elected, the board would receive policy governance training.

The board operates under the Carver Policy Governance system.

Charter School Director Mary Bramer recently attended a weeklong training session at the Carver Institute in Georgia.

About the candidates

Hillary Ackerman has lived in Routt County for 13 years, four of which have been in North Routt. Ackerman's experience includes more than 10 years of early childhood care and education in Routt County.

She works at the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, coordinating the Healthy Lifestyles Mentoring Program, which places AmeriCorps members in the county's three middle schools during the school year, and in the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps backcountry crews in the summer.

The program's focus is on teaching and modeling a healthy lifestyle to the 11 to 25 years old age group as well as the importance of being a contributory member of the community.

Ackerman said she feels that the school's philosophy aligns with what she believes an education should entail and the value of instilling a sense of community into young minds is phenomenal and something that is too often passed over.

Dan Dean has lived in Routt County since October 1986 and currently lives in the Mountain Leisure subdivision adjacent to Seedhouse Road.

He and his wife, Tonya, have one child, a 26-month-old boy named Decker.

Dean is vice president of operations for Resort Group, a property management company in Steamboat Springs.

He has been involved in the resort hospitality industry in various capacities since 1986.

Dean has served on numerous boards and said he is very familiar with Robert Rules of Order.

He said he feels tourism is a vital component of our valley's economy but remains objective and sensitive to the balance between tourism, economy and our historical ranching culture.

Dean said he possesses a keen interest in youth development and feels he could apply his energy in a useful manner.

Chris Gander has been living in North Routt for 14 years. Having worked as a guide for his family's local outfitting business, Del's Triangle 3, Gander is currently employed by Calpac Lasers, a large laser distributor based in Steamboat.

He has previously owned a web design/digital media business and has educational experience in teaching severe needs students in the Boulder Valley School District.

Gander received a Bachelor of Arts degree in humanities and film from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he met his wife, Hillary. Gander and his wife have been married for nine years and have two daughters, Sawyer and Bailey.

Gander said both girls would attend the North Routt Charter School and represent the sixth generation of their family to be educated in Routt County.

Mary Walker has family ties to the upper Elk River Valley since 1915 when her great great-aunt, Margaret D. Brown moved here. Mrs. Brown homesteaded and ranched for 47 years alone after her husband died in the flu epidemic of 1918.

Walker has lived here since 1987, having spent summers here since she was 6-years-old.

Walker has served on a number of non-profit boards including the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, the Tread of Pioneers Museum and the Steamboat Tennis Association.

She said she would bring a unique historical perspective to the role of the board member of the community school.

Not having children of her own, Walker's interest in serving on the board is rooted in her interest in seeing that the organization is a productive, positive force in the community with longevity and purpose.


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