Election Guide: Steamboat Springs School Board District 5 candidate Sandra Sharp
October 13, 2011
Immediate family: Sons, 16 and 18
Occupation: Adjunct faculty member at Colorado Mountain College
Years in community: 8
Q. In what specific ways do you see yourself impacting your school district as a school board member?
A. First, I will be instrumental in developing a healthier budget — a budget that includes revenue from multiple sources in addition to state and federal funding. I will also assure that the Steamboat Springs School District is accountable for responsible spending. The result will be improving education on a budget.
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Second, my experience with performance evaluation is vital as the school board prepares the groundwork for the upcoming state-mandated teacher performance evaluations.
Third, I will always support reading programs. It breaks my heart when students graduate high school without adequate reading skills.
And, with my communications background, I will contribute to the continuation of a professional and productive board.
Q. Why are you running?
A. Now is the right time. It is the responsibility of a school board member to have the time available to fulfill the demands of that position. With one son in college and my other son right behind him, I now have that time availability.
Without my own children in the school system, I will not feel conflicted between what is in the best interest of my children and what is in the best interest of the community as a whole.
Third, I have the experience that is necessary to contribute to a successful board. In this time of economic turmoil it is vital to have as much experience and education on the board as possible.
Q. What is your background in education, and in what ways are you involved in your community?
A. I worked at BOCES as a data and records manager, and now I am an adjunct teacher at CMC. I am a lifelong learner. I have a bachelor's in journalism and communication studies with a minor in business; a graduate professional degree from UCLA; and an MFA from The University of New Orleans. I continue to take classes not only from CMC, but also from a variety of university extension programs.
I have worked with school boards on and off for the past 12 years, I have been a parent volunteer, I was on the skate park alliance, I am volunteer with Holy Name Catholic Church, I was Parent of the Year for the Winter Sports Club's snowboarding program, I participate in the Parent Information Committee at the high school, and I am on the Common Reader Committee.
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. First, I will look at programs and determine if there is alternate funding available for that program. Education needs to look beyond state and federal funding. There are many ways to make modifications to a budget without making cuts. My goal is to improve education despite cuts in funding.
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. This November, Colorado is the only state with a tax increase on the ballot. I have concerns. If Proposition 103 passes, the General Assembly will determine how it will be spent. According to the Fiscal Impact Statement, the monies could possibly go toward administrative needs within the Colorado Department of Education. Past experience (Amendment 23) should serve as a warning to education and voters that a proposition needs to be written in a way that does not allow for multiple interpretations.
Considering the current economic uncertainty, I am also concerned about the impact of a tax increase. For a household earning $50,000 there will be a $250 increase in state income tax, and an additional sales tax increase. A tax increase in this economic environment will slow down job creation. Will the negative impact of these factors cancel out the possible positive impact of Proposition 103?
I am a single mom with two boys, one in college and one right behind him. Like many others, my income has been reduced due to the recession. I can't afford this tax increase. On the other hand, education has immediate funding needs. It is uncertain whether Proposition 103 will answer those needs. It is so uncertain that school districts such as Estes Park are not only opposing Prop 103, they are actively campaigning against it. It is one thing for me, as an individual, to vote in favor of Prop 103. It is another thing to endorse Prop 103. This is the first time in 30 years that I find myself hesitant to support an educational tax increase.
Q. If elected, how would you measure the success of your board and your superintendent?
A. The board actually has a tool in place to review the success of the board and superintendent.
Q. Do you support the use of a secret ballot for any board decisions?
A. I do not see the need for a secret ballot.
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. I welcome all public response. I prefer that an individual voices his or her disagreements. I appreciate the chance to respond and clear up possible misunderstandings, and as a board member I will represent the public, therefore it is vital that I know what they are thinking.
Q. What is your connection to your school district, and how familiar are you with the functions and responsibilities of your school board?
A. With two children attending the district from elementary school through high school I have been involved with a multitude of activitoes and committees. I have presented material to the school board on several occasions. Not only have I worked for BOCES, I have one son that was on an Individual Education Plan. Part of the responsibility of the board is to monitor BOCES and the preschools; I have the experience to do this. I am familiar with the functions and responsibilities of the school board not only through the eyes of a parent, but also through the eyes of an educator and an administrator.
Q. Do you have any prior experience on a public governing board?
I founded and was on the board of the Crisis Center of Southern Nevada; I was board president for the Winona American Medical Association Alliance; and a board member for the Minnesota Medical Association Alliance. I was also on the Board of Directors for the Santa Cruz Actor's Theatre and a board member serving the Soroptimist of Southern Nevada.