Steamboat Springs The two candidates in the only contested seat for the Hayden School Board said their children were their inspiration to run for public office.
Sharon Nereson, a Hayden School District paraprofessional and classroom volunteer, is challenging incumbent Troy Wertenberger for the District D seat. Wertenberger, an employee of the Routt County Road and Bridge Department, was first elected in November 1999.
"The expiring term of seat D of the School Board allows me the opportunity to use my knowledge and experience to seek election," Nereson said. "My sixth-grade daughter's education is my priority, and I will continue to support the quality of education in Hayden."
Wertenberger, who has two children enrolled at Hayden High School, said having children in the district provides more of an intimate knowledge of important issues facing the schools.
"You get to know the staff a lot better and their policies and everything that goes on with it," he said. "It also lets you know if polices are being followed."
Wertenberger said his priority if re-elected would be to find a replacement for Superintendent Mike Luppes, who is retiring at the end of the school year.
"We've already started in that process in seeing if we need to hire a firm to help in the process with that or if we should keep it in-house and hire locally," said Wertenberger, who noted the board must also assess whether the district's four-day week has proved advantageous for teachers and students.
"If we do keep it, I'd like to see more student-teacher contact days," he said.
Nereson said her eight years of experience working in Hayden schools has helped her build a strong relationship with district staff. Those relationships will serve her well on the school board, she said.
"Working as a paraprofessional and volunteering in classrooms has given me understanding, which will be used to make decisions at the board level to strengthen the student's academic standards," she said.