Q. & A. with Anne Lowe, Steamboat Springs School Board at-large candidate
October 6, 2015
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs School Board at-large candidate
Occupation: Clinical pharmacist at Yampa Valley Medical Center and part-time work at Lyon Drug
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Years in Steamboat: Settled here full time eight years ago.
Family: My husband, Rich; 3 grown children, all Colorado college graduates including a nurse, an engineer and a graduate of construction management, each successfully working in their professions. Our oldest is married with two children.
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Civic involvement: Volunteered in past years for the therapeutic riding program with Humble Ranch (now part of the STARS program); on the board of directors of The Steamboat Institute – a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization.
Q. Do you support the proposed $92 million bond measure? Why or why not?
A. While I support solving the district's capacity needs and strategic programming goals there are concerns. 1. The current plan is comprehensive and addresses present as well as future structural needs, but I'm concerned this project will not create a corresponding increase benefit in educational outcomes for the high price. 2. The bond measure places a large burden on businesses with taxes at 3.5 times the tax rate of residential property owners. This may negatively impact economic growth in Steamboat Springs. Education should be one of the economic drivers and we can't afford to overburden this important aspect of our community. 3. Our immediate needs are for K-8, not high school. If we're planning for the future, will we be prepared for what the delivery of education looks like for high school-age students? In 10 to 15 years will it be dependent on buildings, or will we see technologically advanced ways of providing education?
Q. What direction do you believe the district should take if the bond measure fails?
A. If 3A and 3B fail at the ballot, then I will propose we find a more cost effective and a simpler solution to address our future needs. We must act quickly to prioritize the most critical needs and put out a full effort to engage the community in finding acceptable solutions immediately. Now that more people are paying attention to this issue, we should be able to get a high response rate. My job as a board member will be to help facilitate a productive process in finding the most financially responsible and valuable solutions. With the current high school facility, we are able to absorb growth for a period of time. It's also apparent there are many community members who value having the high school in the center of town. Therefore, I would like to see us focus on the elementary and middle schools exclusively. We need to be in a solid position, not overextended in structures, to embrace the exponential possibilities of future discoveries in effective education delivery.
Q. How would you describe any involvement you've had with the local school district or any background or experience you have with education?
A. My value for quality education has been a driver all my life, not only for myself (bachelor of science in biology, pharmacy and a pharmacy doctorate), but for my children as well. All three of our children attended public schools and the Colorado state higher education system (CU and CSU). While I have not been personally involved with having my own kids in the Steamboat School system, I was very involved in their educations as we moved around the country for my husband's work during their earlier years. I gained a broad understanding of different school systems in Utah, Colorado, Massachusetts and Ohio as I sought out the best educational opportunities every place we lived.
Q. What do you believe the role of a school board member should be in relationship to administration and staff? To parents and students?
A. School boards are established to make policy and provide guidance through these policies for successful operation of the school system. This happens by the board member envisioning the community's education future. In doing so, I recognize there is a fine line between board oversight and governance versus being too involved in day-to-day operations. The role of a board member is to develop policy as opposed to delving into administrative functions. In order to be effective, I will listen, gather facts and represent the community, but I will carefully follow policies and communicate through proper channels in a respectful way with administration and staff. Finally, as a board member, I will advocate on behalf of parents, students and schools.
Q. Why are you uniquely qualified to serve on the school board?
A. Coming from a professional background in healthcare, where we strive to optimize individual patient's outcomes, I will bring that same goal to the individual student's outcomes. Every decision made for the individual should incorporate evidence-based effectiveness and efficiency. Consideration needs to be given to how this enhances the educational experience for all students in order to achieve the most exceptional results possible for each individual. In healthcare, we gather information from groups and we have guidelines for groups, but we always regard the patient as an individual. It's all about the patient in healthcare, just as it should be all about the student in our public education system. As with patient care, we need to make every effort to provide quality service to every single student entrusted to our educational system.
Q. Do you think the new state law requiring school districts to hold collaborative bargaining meetings in public has had a positive or negative impact on the negotiation process? Why?
A. I think it will be positive. Transparency with respect to our children's future is very important to parents and to our community at large. Negotiations done in open meetings will help keep our community better informed about what challenges our schools and teachers face. (After talking to some of the teachers in our Steamboat schools, it appears this process has been ongoing for many years anyway – long before it became law.)
Q. What do you think is the most important issue facing the Steamboat Springs School District in the coming years?
A. While we should be proud of our rankings in Colorado relative to student testing and achievement, we need to think beyond Colorado to ensure we are preparing our students to compete academically across the United States and even internationally. Benchmarking our results across a broader measurement system will be helpful. I am also concerned about the issue of drug abuse in our school system. While over the past decade many strides have been made to curb the issue, we are seeing an increase of illegal drugs and at a younger age. More education and support is needed to thwart this problem early rather than trying to deal with the problem once a young person has already had a bad experience with drugs.
Q. In what academic or programmatic area do you think the school district should focus more resources?
A. STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) resources are the biggest priority in order to take care of the demands of the future in educating our kids in this essential area. Project-based learning to support STEM often requires materials and special spaces (MakerSpace) in order for the students to learn with hands-on experience being creative, designing, experimenting, building and inventing. This translates into the students using their higher level thinking skills.
Q. What would be your top three priorities as a newly elected board member?
A. If 3A and 3B are unsuccessful, then work to find a better solution for the future. If 3A and 3B are successful, support and ensure a successful implementation. Work to ensure that high standards (benchmark testing) continue to be met and improve over time for our students. Engage the entire community in the education system. Continually look for ways to tap into the vast resources of talent and expertise we have in the generous people living in Steamboat. This will ensure our upcoming generations will be prepared for an extraordinary future.
Q. How do you think schools should measure student achievement?
A. Continue to use state and national testing tools and expand the comparison benchmarking to the leading national school systems. In doing so, we can learn from these leading school systems as to why they are excelling. Once we do this, we are then able to develop plans and programs to address and implement best practices as we learn from the best performers around the country. Also, never forget the value of teacher input regarding the progress of their individual students. They're with the kids each and every school day and have insight as to how well each one is performing.
My name is Anne Lowe, and I am running and asking for your vote for the Steamboat Springs School Board. For those of you who don't know me, you are probably asking, "How can I assess whether or not I can support Anne Lowe?" To help you make this assessment, I have listed my guiding principles I will use in making every decision as a board member:
• Kids First — Every decision will start with what is in the best interest of our individual students.
• Outcomes — High standards and stellar results.
• Value, empower and encourage quality teachers.
• Fiscal Responsibility — Maximizing the value of every dollar invested (not spent) in our education system.
• Innovation — Explore new and innovative ways to bring exceptional education to the students of Steamboat Springs. Maximizing technology, innovative ideas and best practices will be key.
• Work in partnership with the entire community. Our education system is the foundation of our community's strength.
• Operate at the highest level of ethical and professional standards in order to execute the School Board responsibilities entrusted by the community.
Education is key for the success of our upcoming generations and our community's economic growth and viability. As my tagline says, I am about "Igniting an extraordinary future one spark at a time!"