Quality of education at the heart of Roaring Fork School Board Applicant Forum


Roaring Fork School District Education Council candidates, left to right, Chase McWhorter, Kenny Teitler and Kathryn Kuhlenberg at the Questions and Answers forum at Morgridge Commons on October 11.
Rich Allen / Freelance Post

Responding to the diverse and ever-changing needs of students through improving teacher compensation and promoting parent involvement was a focal point of discussion in a forum for the four candidates from the Roaring Fork School District in Morgridge. Commons at Glenwood Springs Library Monday evening.

The Questions and Answers forum showcased Glenwood Springs voting metrics for the upcoming election and posed questions to candidates for the two vacant Education Council seats.

Chase McWhorter runs against Kenny Teitler for District A seat. Kathryn Kuhlenberg runs against Steven Fotion for District E.

Kuhlenberg and Teitler are both trade educators, while McWhorter and Fotion are corporate directors touting an outsider’s point of view.

In their assessments of the state of education at the local level, Teitler and Kuhlenberg both focused on how expectations of teachers have changed and made quality education a moving target. McWhorter and Fotion both felt the bar had been lowered nationally.

Roaring Fork School District Education Council candidates, left to right, Kathryn Kuhlenberg and Steven Fotion at the Questions and Answers forum at Morgridge Commons on October 11.
Rich Allen / Freelance Post

“Our education expectations have become skewed, if you will, since we started teaching to test instead of teaching to think,” Fotion said.

All the candidates believing that there is room for improvement locally, the question has become of methodology. Parental involvement, meeting individual student needs – especially across the English / Spanish language barrier – and increasing teachers’ salaries for retention facilities were all mentioned.

Kuhlenberg pointed to the newly mandated universal preschool program in the state of Colorado as a way to prepare students for success early on.

“This program can go very well or very badly,” Kuhlenberg said of the program’s implementation in 2023-24. “(Early childhood education) is our only chance to prevent the formation of an achievement gap… If we can prevent this gap from forming, we are not catching up with 13 or 15 year olds. “

Kuhlenberg said the successful use of factory royalty replacement funds can help promote universal preschool education. She and Teitler have spoken out in favor of increasing the factory fee waiver that would provide landowners with $ 7.7 million to raise wages to increase employee wages.

Fotion has said he is “currently” against the 5B vote, but his position is changing as he learns more about where the funds are going. McWhorter expressed a similar concern, saying he wanted to be sure the money was going to teachers.

“This one is tricky for me because I would say, in general, I’m generally against any sort of tax unless you’ve exhausted the cost cuts,” McWhorter said. “I completely sympathize with the cost of living here. My main concern with the mill tax to support it is that you would want a microscope on that money to make sure it goes to the teachers. “

In an earlier presentation on the 5B ballot issue, Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Rob Stein and Glenwood Springs Middle School teacher Autumn Rivera said the funds would lead to an increase. 12-15% for most staff – including maintenance, bus drivers and others – but not district management.

In a predominantly Latin American neighborhood, the question of reaching these students directly was considered. Teitler, a bilingual veteran of the Roaring Fork School District, said more needs to be done to close the achievement gap between Latino students and their white peers. He said the latter tests 40 more points.

“We have to look at what children need based on where they come from, what their education is,” Teitler said. “If you have a student starting kindergarten who doesn’t speak English, you can’t teach him the same way you can teach another student entering kindergarten who is fluent in English. “

All of the applicants agreed that promoting parental involvement is an immediate way to foster student success. All said that some form of increased access to the school board would be a benefit, although McWhorter suggested including limits and Kuhlenberg suggested appointing a board member to act as a referee for one. selection of schools.

Voting measures

Prior to the Board Candidates Forum, panels on each of the Glenwood Springs sample voting questions were held.

On Amendment 78, the Conservation Fund Ownership Initiative, Michael Fields of Colorado Rising State Action made a statement in support via a statement provided.

Fields also wrote in support of Proposition 120, the Lower Property Tax Rates initiative and keep $ 25 million in the TABOR surplus revenue initiative. Marianne Virgili, of the Colorado Mountain College board of trustees, spoke out against it, saying lower property taxes do not translate directly into lower rent rates.

On voting questions 2A and 2B, which would increase the taxes and debt of the Town of Glenwood Springs for construction work relating to the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport, Mayor Jonathan Godes submitted a statement in favor. Federal Mineral Lease District pilot and Gregg Rippy said, “This voting problem is an outrageous price tag that is not being charged by current airport users.”

Rivera and Stein responded to concerns about 5B, the increased factory fee waiver.

“What we are looking at is reducing the curricula, increasing the class sizes because we have reached a point where there is nothing more to do,” said Stein.

The ballots were mailed out on October 8. The election is November 2.

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