Two weeks ago, we noted just how critical things are in Colorado and in our local school districts. Come Tuesday, Nov. 1, voters will weigh in on the future of our state and determine whether well-organized pro-voucher politicos seize control of at least two local school boards -- or whether thoughtful, accountable candidates are elected.
Our Oct. 13 endorsements supporting Referenda C & D, D-11 bond issue 3-B and D-11 board candidates Tami Hasling, John Gudvangen and Sandra Mann can be read in full at csindy.com.
Like D-11, Harrison School District 2 is at risk. Two school board candidates, Cindee Will and Deborah L. Hendrix, are getting support from the well-organized pro-voucher campaign dream team. Six other people are running, and we've picked three who truly deserve your vote for education.
Harrison School District 2
With 17 years of active involvement in Harrison District 2 -- and three children who attended D-2 schools -- Linda Pugh brings an often overlooked, but incredibly important, perspective to the board. Pugh, a veteran who retired from the U.S. Army after 20 years, understands the challenges and needs of high-mobility military families, so many of whom live in D-2 and send children with diverse backgrounds to Harrison schools. Pugh also is a registered nurse and nursing instructor.
Richard L. Price
Richard L. Price, whose career spanned 18 years as a district middle school principal, plus 20 more years in public education as a teacher, coach and assistant principal, knows "a strong public school system is the bedrock of democracy." He supports programs that will motivate and challenge every student in the Harrison community. And he is not someone to quietly suffer those ideologues who bring political agendas to the table. Price places a high priority on narrowing the achievement gap between white students and students of color, as opposed to risking some sort of radical exercise to dismantle the district.
Kay C. Mast
When she first was elected four years ago, Kay C. Mast recognized D-2 as the "real world" among local school districts in terms of socio-economic, ethnic and educational diversity. Her focus has been on retaining staff in this high-turnover district and reducing the district's dropout rate. She recognizes that test scores are the current barometric reading of student success, but she also places importance on teaching for lifelong learning, and not just to the test. A D-2 elementary school teacher for 27 years, Mast, like Price and Pugh, has an institutional history that will strengthen the board.
The city of fountain also is facing massive challenges.
Thanks to a massive influx of nearly 10,000 new soldiers to Fort Carson, nearby Fountain is expected to grow, astoundingly, from its current population of 20,000 to twice that in just the next two years. That's merely half a term in office for the new mayor of Fountain. As term limits force Mayor Ken Barela to depart, this city needs similar vision and leadership skills. The citizens of Fountain are lucky to have Jeri Howells among three candidates running for office. An El Paso County commissioner for 16 years, Howells also served two terms on the board of Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8, and as executive director of the Fountain Valley Development Authority. She's savvy and levelheaded, and has an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of local and state government. She is poised to hit the ground running.
Need information on your polling place, or other useful election knowledge? Call 575-VOTE (8683). And, please, cast your ballot as though our children are depending on it. They are.