Candidates have passion for education | SteamboatToday.com

Candidates have passion for education

Mike McCollum

Char Rusk

— The two candidates for the Steamboat Springs School Board’s District 4 seat put their passion for education to work long before seeking election.

Char Rusk, who was appointed to the School Board in June to finish the term vacated when Pat Gleason resigned, is a classroom volunteer and former Parent Information Committee chairwoman.

“After being appointed this summer and serving this short term, I know I have a lot to offer the school and our community,” she said. “My passion lies in supporting the staff. I know how hard it is to make it here, and I know the value of a quality educator, and I feel that the staff has not always received the amount of respect, support and freedom they deserve.”

Challenger Robin Crossan, a retired facilities director and disaster recovery planner for Macy’s in New York City, is president of the Education Fund Board. She said she became dissatisfied with the School Board during her work with the Fund Board.

“I started going to School Board meetings and seeing a board that was not moving forward and making good decisions,” Crossan said. “I started to consult with many community members and decided that, with my management, fiscal and (Fund Board) experience, I would be a positive, contributing member of the School Board.”

Crossan said that if elected, her priorities would be to conduct a nationwide superintendent search, work to complete the ongoing major construction projects on time and under budget, work through the challenge of starting a full-day kindergarten program, set up a means for district-wide accountability and better communicate with the community.

Recommended Stories For You

“In doing this, I’ll always ask, ‘Is this best for our kids, and is it fiscally responsible?'” she said.

Rusk said she will work on improving communication and developing an honest, working relationship between all district stakeholders, along with demanding accountability to and from all.

“In striving to meet these three goals, we will have put in place a culture that is prepared to work collaboratively and inclusively to confront the many challenges we will face together as a district in the future,” she said.

Important to Rusk and Crossan is improving the divisiveness the candidates said has emerged in the district.

“It sounds like there are a lot of issues that need to be resolved, and trust among the board, administrators, teacher and staff needs to be re-established,” Crossan said.

Rusk said she too will work to improve communication among district stakeholders.

“There needs to be open, honest communication between all involved parties,” she said. “All need to be heard, valued and honored.”

Char Rusk

Age: 50

Occupation: Registered nurse at Yampa Valley Medical Center

On the issues:

Do you favor all-day kindergarten? If so, how do you propose funding the program and when do you see the program starting?

Yes. I would love to see the program start fall of 2008. Our current challenges include classroom space and funding. With completion of the elementary schools expansion, space will be available upon finishing the building project. In regards to funding, a committee is currently being organized to investigate available options. … I believe the curriculum development will be an opportunity for our skilled and professional staff to expand their roles and provide a well-rounded full-day kindergarten.

Is there divisiveness in the school district? If so, what would you do to help improve the climate?

Yes. The district needs to be managed not as a business, but as a collaborative operation, with input from a wide variety of individuals in order to serve a wide variety of individuals. It is paramount that fiscal responsibility continues to be achieved, while the open, honest communication is brought to the forefront.

Robin Crossan

Age: 51

Occupation: Retired facilities director and disaster recovery planner for Macy’s in New York City. Currently a guest services supervisor for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and Steamboat Golf Club pro shop employee

On the issues:

Do you favor all-day kindergarten? If so, how do you propose funding the program and when do you see the program starting?

Yes. We should look at several options to help fund it: parents paying a small per diem, school district funds, Education Fund Board kick-starting the program, check the pulse of the Steamboat community for the 1 percent mill levy that could be asked for. All options should be explored. A timeline for (starting the program) would probably be when the construction of the new Soda Creek Elementary and the addition at (Strawberry Park Elementary School) are completed.

Is there divisiveness in the school district? If so, what would you do to help improve the climate?

Yes. After hearing the School Board talk (Oct. 2) at their retreat with our new superintendent, yes, I believe there is divisiveness in our school district. As a School Board member, I need to be impartial, listen to all sides, and work with our groups to build trust and repair the damage I heard about (that) evening.