Steamboat Springs The past four months have been tumultuous, to say the least, for the Steamboat Springs School Board, and there are indications November's election could be just as contentious. We think that's a good thing for district voters.
On Monday, Steamboat Springs resident Lisa Brown confirmed her candidacy, although she has yet to turn in a nomination petition. Brown would run for the District 2 seat held by current board member Jeff Troeger. Troeger and fellow board members Char Rusk and Jerry Kozatch also have said they intend to run for their seats, but none has turned in a completed petition.
Troeger is the only board member seeking re-election; Rusk and Kozatch were appointed to their positions.
Rumors persist about other residents who may join the race, but until competed nomination petitions are handed in, they're just that - rumors.
Given the controversy that has surrounded the School Board in recent months and the many residents who have publicly spoke out against some of its decisions, one would hope all three open board seats would be contested. It's disappointing that isn't the case with just 10 days remaining until the Aug. 31 petition deadline.
But Steamboat isn't the only Routt County school district struggling to attract school board candidates. There are five open seats in South Routt, and as of Tuesday afternoon, no one had turned in a petition. Superintendent Kelly Reed said four people have picked up candidate packets. Hayden has two board seats up for election this fall, and no candidates had emerged as of Tuesday.
Qualified candidates in any district must be registered voters for the past 12 consecutive months in the director district they seek to represent. In Steamboat, candidates must collect 50 signatures from registered voters. In Hayden and South Routt, candidates must collect 25 signatures. The signatures can be of residents who live in any director district, but a voter can sign only one candidate petition per director district.
Make no mistake - being a school board member is no easy task. It's a volunteer job that involves long meetings and a steep learning curve. Criticism can come from all directions, including this Editorial Board.
As we have said before, the School Board is arguably as important as any governmental board. Public education represents the largest tax burden for residents, and the Steamboat Springs School District is responsible for educating 2,000 children - one-fifth of the city's full-time population. When you consider the number of parents, teachers, support staff and others with a vested interest in our public school system, the importance of school governance becomes even clearer.
School boards are a source of controversy, and the only way to address that controversy is through the democratic process. In Steamboat, we're pleased to see current board members and at least one new face entering the fray - and we'll be even more encouraged when their petitions are turned in and verified. We hope even more names emerge in all three local school districts as we approach the Aug. 31 candidate petition deadline.