Election Guide: Steamboat Springs School Board District 5 candidate Rebecca Williams
October 13, 2011
Immediate family: Husband, Drew Williams; son, Silas (6 months old)
Occupation: I am a stay-at-home mom and am contracted to do some consulting work at Christian Heritage School helping them integrate technology in their classrooms. I am a former high school business teacher and preschool teacher.
Years in community: 6
Q. In what specific ways do you see yourself impacting your school district as a school board member?
A. As a school board member, I see myself representing the voice of our community. I personally represent a demographic that is not currently represented on the school board which gives me a unique perspective. I am a former teacher both at the secondary level and preschool levels, which gives me insights into how our schools operate on a daily basis. I have a degree in business education, which gives me skills in accounting, planning and organization. All of these skills can be applied to work on our school board. As a board member, it will be my responsibility to serve, listen, and be accountable to our community. Fiscal responsibility, continued academic growth and maintaining diverse educational opportunities for students are at the top of my priority list.
Q. Why are you running?
A. I am extremely passionate about education, students and our community. I have previously enjoyed being involved in the high school's and district's accountability committees. I am comfortable with asking tough questions and seeking appropriate solutions to challenges that our school district may face. I am currently spending most of my time at home with my son, and I want to stay involved in our schools. I have the time necessary to commit to being on our school board and the ability to be actively involved in our schools and our community.
Q. What is your background in education, and in what ways are you involved in your community?
A. I have taught business courses at Steamboat Springs High School for the past three years, and taught preschool prior to my time at SSHS. With a degree in business education, I have the experience, passion, and motivation needed to be an effective board member. I am also working with Christian Heritage School to help them integrate technology in the classroom.
Q. How would you look through your district’s budget as a school board member and make recommendations on whether a certain program or item should be eliminated or reduced if funding to your school district is cut again this year?
A. When making a decision regarding our district's budget the first step is to outline our districts goals and make decisions regarding our budget based on what programs support those goals and objectives. We need to decide what our desired outcome is, how we will measure it, and what strategies need to be in place in order to improve. Once we have this outlined clearly, it will be easier to make decisions that support the goals of our district and community. With that being said, I do think that we have numerous programs that are an asset to our schools. Foreign language, band, and the arts are extremely important in helping students grow intellectually, emotionally and socially. These programs and many others encourage growth in our schools that I believe have helped our district be recognized as a district of distinction.
Q. Do you support Proposition 103, which would raise the state's sales income and taxes to increase funding to Colorado public schools, or tax increases of any kind to fund public education? Why or why not? (If yes, what specific programs or budget items would you put increased revenue toward?)
A. The community of Steamboat Springs has proven to be a community that values education. Our excellent schools are proven assets to our entire community. Education is a shared responsibility for us all to take part in and it is worth investing money into our schools to ensure that they are the best we can make them. If Proposition 103 is passed by the voters, what is our plan as a district for this money? The bigger picture is to outline what we need this money for and specifically where it will be used. Once we have desired outcomes for the money received from Proposition 103 (or any other tax measure) if passed, we will have a plan for how the revenues will be used, and we can evaluate how effectively the revenue has been utilized to reach our goals.
We also need to understand the impacts of not receiving additional revenues from state or federal sources, or experiencing continued decreases in funding. What areas of our schools will sacrifice because of this decreased revenue? Our schools are projecting another $1 million cut if Proposition 103 does not pass. What does this mean for school programs, students and teachers? We have already made substantial cuts and have worked to budget within our means. Our district has approached its budget with a conservative approach, which has proven beneficial to our education system. If we have desired outcomes for new revenues, we will see our schools improve.
Q. If elected, how would you measure the success of your board and your superintendent?
A. In order to measure the success of our school board and our superintendent, we need to again outline desired outcomes and how we will measure our goals. The actual goals of the school board and superintendent need to be outlined clearly and need to be measured regularly. Our school board already reviews policy regularly to ensure that they are meeting the goals they have set forth. Once the new school board members are elected, desired outcomes need to be defined. We will then be able to measure our success as a board and continually improve our effectiveness.
Q. Do you support the use of a secret ballot for any board decisions?
A. If elected, I am representing our community. Community for me involves respect and accountability. I hope to represent a collective voice on our school board and I do not think that my vote needs to be secretive. I do think that executive session has its time and place, particularly when regarding personnel. I will use data and reliable information to make my decisions, and I am able to effectively articulate my point of view. When our school board makes a decision we make a decision as a team of five people. Once a decision is made I will stand behind the decision of the entire school board and I fully intend to support the decision that the board has made as a whole.
Q. How would you respond to scrutiny from members of the public who might disagree with the decisions you make as a board member?
A. As mentioned in the previous question, I will make my decisions based on data and the information provided to me. It is impossible to make a decision that will please everyone and I will do my best to make the best possible decision that I can. I am not running for school board with any personal agenda, and without any students in the district I feel like I can make objective decisions. I intend to listen to the opinions and view of our community and make a decision. Again, our school board may not all vote the same on a decision, but I will stand behind the decision of our board. We would not be an effective board if we all had the exact same opinion about everything. It is important to ask tough questions and seek appropriate solutions.
Q. What is your connection to your school district, and how familiar are you with the functions and responsibilities of your school board?
A. I was an employee of the district for the past three years, and I served on the high school and districts accountability committees and the leadership team. I have been on the frontline watching budget decisions being debated. I have attended numerous board meetings in the past where I have seen decisions been made that affected me personally. I know how it feels to be a part of the budget cuts, but also understand why those budget cuts were necessary and could see the overall need for the tough decisions that have been made. I have also attended board meetings where the school improvement plans have been presented and am aware of various activities happening throughout our district.
Q. Do you have any prior experience on a public governing board?
A. I do not have previous experience on a public governing board but I am eager to learn. I am motivated, passionate and ready to commit the time necessary to serve on our school board.