Election Guide 2013: Steamboat School Board format changes on ballot in form of Referendum 3A
October 16, 2013
Shall the plan adopted by the Board of Education of the Steamboat Springs School District RE-2 by Resolution on June 10, 2013, which changes the director district plan of representation for elected directors of the Board of Education to an at-large plan of representation, be approved?
Steamboat Springs — In response to the challenge of attracting candidates to fill Steamboat Springs School Board positions during election season, the board is proposing to replace its current director district format with an at-large system.
In the past decade, 14 seats have been filled in five elections, and seven of those were decided in uncontested races. The District 2 seat will be filled in November for the third time this year due to districting conflicts and resignations.
In early June, the School Board voted to spend the $9,000 required to place the issue on the November ballot and let district voters decide. The board began discussing the issue last year, consulting the 2010 census and the Routt County Geographic Information Systems Department.
In essence, if voters pass the measure, candidates interested in holding a seat on the School Board won't have to worry about where they live within the district.
The district is currently on a three-two election cycle for the five seats. Two seats are up for election this November, and three seats will be decided next November.
In a School Board meeting in early September, board member Robin Crossan, of District 4, voiced concern about the problem of recruiting candidates, saying she was "very disappointed" in the lack of community interest and support for the district.
Should voters approve the new at-large election system, the change would take effect in 2015, when three seats will be up for election. But Superintendent Brad Meeks said the Colorado Association of School Boards indicated that, if the ballot issue does pass, the newly elected board then could select someone at-large for the District 3 seat, a seat that no one filed to run for and will be vacated by Denise Connelly, who is term-limited.
The primary concern with switching to an at-large format would be a lack of community diversity on the board, the premise of a director district system. But in such a small, tight-knit community like Steamboat, Meeks said, it shouldn't be a problem.
The board agrees that candidates need to represent the district's area geographically but added there is a definite need to attract more candidates.
"I don't think Steamboat District 2's values differ from those who live on Fish Creek Falls Road," Meeks said. "I think part of it, too, is trying to create a system that makes it easier to keep a full complement of board members."