Steamboat Springs School Board: District 1

Former principal faces incumbent board member

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— The two candidates for the Steamboat Springs School Board's District 1 seat say they have a lot in common.

But they also said differences between them do exist.

Michael Loomis, the incumbent, says he has a lot of respect for his opposition, retired Strawberry Park Elementary School Principal John DeVincentis. But Loomis said he's a better candidate because of his varied experiences, including experience in business management and accounting, and his ability to listen to all sides of an issue before making a decision.

"I just feel like I have a broader outlook," Loomis said. "I think I would be better at looking at all sides of the issue."

In 2002, DeVincentis voted for Loomis, who ran unopposed. Newly retired after a two-decade run as principal at Strawberry Park, DeVincentis thinks he will bring more education-related experience to the position as well as an ability to enact changes.

"Nothing has changed in the two years he has been on the board," DeVincentis said. "It's the way it was the year (Loomis) got on."

Each man also has his own reasons for running.

Loomis said his two daughters were his motivation to get involved in the school system.

He began attending school-related meetings in 2000 and decided he could do a better job on the School Board than others. He ran for the District 5 seat in 2002 and won.

This summer, he moved into a different district and had to resign from his District 5 seat.

Fellow School Board members then appointed him to the District 1 seat after the resignation of board member Tami Havener.

He is running again because he feels a sense of duty to continue on the School Board, especially because he's been through the steep learning curve.

DeVincentis said he wants to be a positive addition to the entire district, just as he thinks he was a positive addition to Strawberry Park Elementary School. At that school, students, teachers, staff members and parents are happy and make positive changes themselves, he said.

"I think that's what I would like to create at a district level," he said.

Loomis and DeVincentis have similar goals. Both are for better pay for teachers and staff and both are for smaller class sizes, especially at the elementary level. They agree that using funds from the city's half-cent sales tax for education is key to realizing those goals.

Important to Loomis and DeVincentis is improving communication and trust among teachers, staff, the School Board and the administration.

Loomis said he tries to get in schools as much as he can to talk with teachers and staff.

DeVincentis said that, if elected, he would be in the schools and talking with teachers and staff as much as possible. The key, he said, is for people to know you care about them and believe in them and appreciate the job they are doing.

Loomis said that one of the key issues facing the district relates to its facilities, including whether to improve or rebuild some of them.

One of the School Board's recent accomplishments, Loomis said, was completing audits of facilities, curriculum and management, and technology. Those studies help the School board map out its goals and identify needed improvements.

DeVincentis said the district needs to "get kind of a soul back."

"It's become very policy driven, (there's a) lack of heart and not a real sense of caring from the Board to the teachers or the administration to the teachers, and I'd like to see that change," he said.

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