A clean slate for School Board

New members look to start fresh


— After winning seats on the Steamboat Springs School Board by wide margins, new members Laura Anderson, Lisa Brown and Robin Crossan - who campaigned under the "ABCs for Education" banner - may find their honeymoon brief.

With pressing needs such as two major construction projects, an overhaul of the district's curriculum and the task of searching for and hiring a superintendent, the public spotlight likely will stay trained on the ABCs. Anderson said she is prepared for that spotlight and is ready to implement change on the School Board.

"I've heard more than once : that Tuesday's vote should be considered a mandate for change," said Anderson, who won the District 5 School Board seat with more than 60 percent of the vote in a solid victory against incumbent Jerry Kozatch,.

"People have been unhappy with the way things have been," she said. "Obviously, the dynamics of the board are going to change with three new members. I see only wonderful and powerful things that are going to happen, given the talents of the new people coming to the board."

Crossan cruised to victory against incumbent Char Rusk, winning the District 4 School Board seat with 54 percent of the vote. She said she also considers Tuesday's outcome a mandate for change.

"It's totally a change in dynamics of what the community wanted, not only with us, but with City Council as well," she said. City Council incumbents Towny Anderson, Karen Post and Susan Delligner also lost their seats Tuesday night.

Brown ran unopposed for the District 2 School Board seat vacated by Jeff Troeger, who declined to run for re-election. Brown stopped short of calling Tuesday's results a "mandate."

"What I see in the election is not a mandate for change as much as, well, I feel the voters haven't felt elected officials have been listening to community very much," she said.

Moving forward

With three new School Board members, a slate of freshman administrators and an interim superintendent, School Board President Denise Connelly said the challenge will be to get everyone on the same page about what's going on in the district.

"I think that it's interesting that a lot of the statements that I heard during the election was basically what (the School Board) has been doing already - focusing on kids, making sure the people in classrooms have resources to meet the needs of kids, addressing the whole spectrum of abilities in schools and keeping on with construction projects," Connelly said.

Connelly stressed that building projects, constructing a curriculum and staying on budget are all issues that must be addressed, no matter who is on the School Board.

"If they follow what their campaign promises were, then we have pretty much the same major goals," she said.

Crossan, Anderson and Brown will be sworn in to the School Board on Monday night. Each new board member said they are doing a crash course on School Board procedures and policy governance.

Crossan said she'll have a shorter learning curve than her fellow ABCs due to her role as the Education Fund Board president - a position she'll soon resign from.

"I feel really comfortable coming onto the School Board," she said. "I do have to learn what a School Board member can do through policy governance, and I need to know what those parameters are as a spokesperson for the community."

During the election process, School Board candidates were given detailed School Board policy binders to prepare them for the position.

Monday night, board members must elect new officers and committee members. Crossan, Anderson and Brown wouldn't comment on whether they have discussed replacing Connelly as president, but they indicated a change could be imminent.

"The public expects change, and it's a discussion we should have in public," Anderson said.

"I totally respect her, and my hope is that we will work well together over the next several months and move forward," Crossan said. "But who knows what's going to happen until the process is over."

Not a 180

School Board member John DeVincentis said he does not consider voters replacing three of five School Board members as a "180-degree turn" in focus, or a mandate for change.

"Our community wants the School Board to settle down, get along and to continue the business of providing the excellent schools to learn and work in," he said. "I am dedicated to working with anyone on this board and have been in the past. Each issue determines one's thinking, not stereotypes of each other."

DeVincentis stressed that he will welcome the new board members with a clean slate.

"As (Strawberry Park Elementary School) principal, I always wanted to help create the best elementary school we could," he said. "I assume each board member wants the same for an entire district, and each would like to be a part of making that happen."

There has been no dialogue between the new board members and DeVincentis, who said Thursday by e-mail that he left it up to Connelly to get Rusk and Kozatch up to speed when they were new board members, and he would rely on the board president to do so with Crossan, Anderson and Brown.

But DeVincentis offered the ABCs a suggestion.

"My only advice is keep your head down and run in a random pattern," he said.

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmccollum@steamboatpilot.com


elkwatch 9 years, 5 months ago

ABC's: I wish you the best and my hat is off to anyone willing to put in the time and work to be on the school board. But don't make the mistake George Bush made and assume you have a lot of political capital. The truth is a lot of people voted the way they did because they read the Pilot and assumed it was a bad move buying out the superintendent. If you polled a different group, those who know more about what was going on, I think you'd get a different result. A lot of us have great respect for this board and feel they had no choice in the superintendent matter.

Also, regarding the "nationwide search for a superintendent," why not wait and see how Smyser does before you waste time and money looking for a new person who will be an unknown entity until you've actually worked with him/her.

And please, no action based on political revenge.


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