School Board candidates go unscripted at forum


— In an election season when Steamboat Springs School Board candidates have remained mostly on script, Wednesday night's election forum gave the public some off-the-cuff answers.

Teen alcohol use, attracting and retaining teachers, religious doctrine in classrooms, the dropout rate and providing contraceptives in district schools were among topics raised by audience members at the Parent Information Committee forum.

All five candidates agreed that teen alcohol use in Steamboat is at unacceptable levels and that attracting and retaining teachers needs to be a priority, but differences emerged when candidates addressed the more controversial topics.

High school parent Roxanne Miller-Freutel asked the candidates whether they would support a Judeo-Christian Bible class in the high school curriculum or a class from a single religious view.

"I would not support that because I think school is not the place to try to educate anybody about any single religious issue," District 5 candidate Jerry Kozatch said.

Laura Anderson, who is challenging Kozatch for the District 5 seat, said she would address the subject on a case-by-case basis.

"I think in this situation, I would take the approach of seeing where it fits within our curriculum," said Anderson, who is a member of the High School Curriculum Committee.

"I would have to look at the specific class, and I can see something as in religious history, but not religious gospel," she said.

Lisa Brown, who is running unopposed for the District 2 seat, said she would not support inclusion of any religious doctrine in district schools.

"If we looked at it academically, we could maybe have comparative ethics in the curriculum," she said. "It would be about codes of conduct among religions."

District 4 candidate Robin Crossan said she approached the School Board about three years ago to speak on behalf of having a religion class in the schools.

"No matter what the class may be, we need to ensure it goes through proper channels," she said. "My son last year, in world history, learned about all different religions. Anything can be taught in many different ways. I would not agree with one specific idea."

Char Rusk, who was appointed in June to fill the District 4 seat, said she would not support a religion-themed class.

"Even the challenge of picking out a bunch of religions, a big variety, you are going to leave something out and I don't know if you are going to teach it right," she said. "The board is supposed to stay out of the day-to-day stuff in the district because we are not the educators and we are not the professional educators : no matter what they did they wouldn't do it quite right."

The forum's host, Shannon Lukens, referenced a controversy in Portland, Maine, where school officials plan to make birth control pills available to middle school students.

"Here's an issue, like alcohol, that is bigger than the district," said Rusk, who is a registered nurse at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

"I don't think it's the school's place, but education needs to happen in the community," she said.

Crossan, Anderson and Brown said they too would not support contraceptives in the schools, but Kozatch said he would consider the program if the community demanded it.

"For me it's a community question because the role of the School Board is to represent the community," he said. "So if this is something the community was telling us loud and clear that they wanted, then I would, if it was something I believed in."

Prior to the question-and-answer session, the candidates answers prepared questions about how to regain the trust of the community, what to do if the city's half-cent sales tax fails to be renewed next year, and the role of School Board members.

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208 or e-mail


bikegirl 9 years, 5 months ago

dimwit-yes,I guess you are.I remember those wonderful Virtues Posters too,maybe Dr.D forgot to read them.


Sunnydays 9 years, 5 months ago

Alcohol has been an issue in this district for years, this BOE and others have failed miserably to deal with it and the resulting sexual assault that often accompanies it. What was the survey result a few years ago 1 in 4 high school girls claiming to be sexually assaulted. About twice the national average. That was pre this BOE and I am sure the issue still remains but is swept under the table along with alcohol. What's the attitude? Oh yeah, Boys will be boys. Do you or anyone honestly believe that the BOE or even the schools can stop this when we live in a town that people visit to Party and relax. Good Luck!!


dimwitiguess 9 years, 5 months ago

I've heard dads say boys will be boys after their sons were accused of harrassing girls. As a parent at SPE I received the student handbook from Dr. D. which had the harrassment policy and another on weapons I think right in front of the booklet. He took it seriously and I'm glad he is still on the boe. I know Connelly, Kozatch, and Rusk have daughters. They take sexual harrassment and drinking very seriously. This board is also taking on harrassment of any kind - racial, ethinic, religious, any any other form. They took positive steps to make sure a policy was developed just this spring. Is that policy complete? It was difficult to get the former superintendent to take any action after several years with serious harrassment taking place. They took action when it came to their attention that nothing was done. Hey, who knows, I'm probably just a dimwitiguess.


steamboatsconscience 9 years, 5 months ago

Hey PS Signs of alcoholism - sounds like you are talking about yourself. Another self appointed zealot preaching to the choir at 2 AM no less. And always steering an unrelated topic to let us know how much you hate the BOE get over yourself ,


SteamboatJoe 9 years, 5 months ago

Principallysent - take a break and go have some fun

dim - you are Remember D's comments about what he would do if he were married to Simms? Yeah, he knows everything. If you don't believe me, read his handbook, I mean emails.


panky 9 years, 5 months ago

"The board is supposed to stay out of the day-to-day stuff in the district because we are not the educators and we are not the professional educators : no matter what they did they wouldn't do it quite right."

Wow. Are you talking about teaching a world's religions class?

A world's religions class is a fascinating look at our world's history with deeper understanding of how religious conflicts can arise and wars result. Certainly other aspects of the world's religions are studied but rather than focusing on detailed doctrine there is a broader look at how religion influences human behavior and world history.

Wherever the statement came from, I'm sorry to see so little faith in our teachers to "do it quite right."

Apparantly it's a good thing you stay out of the "day-to-day stuff" but it's disturbing that you have such a poor grasp of the "stuff."


snoman 9 years, 5 months ago

When Char was referring to "they" I believe that she was referring to school board members in general and not the teachers who would be teaching a class about religion. I think Char has a lot of faith in the teachers being able to do their jobs. Her daughters are or have been in the high school and she knows the teachers. Unlike some BOE candidates (past and present) who have their kids in private schools.


CommonSense 9 years, 5 months ago

Panky: I agree with snoman. Rusk is a real backer of educators and has been involved with education and students for many years. She contributed a great deal when on the Soda Creek parents' group (PIC) as a participant and president.


elkwatch 9 years, 5 months ago

Principally - That's pretty funny! Did you read what you wrote?

""My dad said "The woman with no self-esteem or integrity makes the perfect mistress." It doesn't matter how many women you are involved with, she has no self-worth. "

And: "What kind of woman goes out with a married man? My dad answered that question for me."

Maybe you should run these posts by your Dad. Sorry, that was just too good. Thanks for the entertainment!


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