Candidate field crowded in Eagle County School Board race | VailDaily.com

Candidate field crowded in Eagle County School Board race

These are the school board's districts, by geographic area.
Special to the Daily |

If You Go

What: Eagle County school district candidate forum

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Colorado Mountain College Edwards auditorium

Cost: Free

Information: Nine candidates are running for four seats. All four seats are being contested, the first contested races since 2009.

School board candidates

Four Year Terms

District A

Ryan Geller

Tessa Kirchner

District B

Carolyn Knox Keep

Mary Cotton

District D

Robert Lee Ticer

Felicia S. Battle

Two Year Term

District E

Carrie Larson

Kevin Kottenstette

Robinette Hoppin

EAGLE COUNTY — Candidates for this fall’s only contested elections don’t get paid one thin dime for the job if they win.

However, the school board election will take center stage in November’s off-year election.

For the first time in recent memory, every seat that’s up for election is being contested, one by three candidates.

You’ll get a look at them in person on Tuesday, when they meet in a candidate forum at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards.

LOOKING BACK

The last time a school board seat was contested was the 2009 election, when two candidates battled it out for the Gypsum seat.

In 2007, eight candidates squared off for five seats. Of those eight, two ran unopposed. The other three races saw two candidates fight it out.

Gypsum is again attracting the most attention from candidates. Carrie Larson, Kevin Kottenstette and Robinette Hoppin are running for that seat.

Candidate 101 class

Both the new candidates and incumbents were already in the same room at the same time. Last Friday the school district hosted a Board of Education Candidate 101 seminar, in which department heads and others from the school district explained how things work and answered questions.

Still in the hot seat

Jeanne McQueeney was in that hot seat not so long ago. She served on the school board for two terms. She’s now on Eagle County’s Board of Commissioners.

“I got involved because I thought the school district was headed in the right direction, and I wanted to keep it going that way,” she said.

McQueeney and some other school board members saw the school district through some its most serious recent storms. When the economy tanked and property values plummeted, the Eagle County Schools had to cut $9 million in two years. McQueeney had just been elected board president and chaired a series of emotional meetings in which people passionately argued that their school be spared as many of those budget cuts as possible.

The steepest learning curve comes in policy governance, according to McQueeney. Under policy governance, the school board’s role is to set policy and work with the superintendent, otherwise leaving the school district’s day-to-day operations alone — it’s the view from the 30,000-foot level.

“You’re willing to listen to people and their ideas and point them toward the right person,” McQueeney said.

About school boards

School board members say they spend an average of 45 hours each month on board work, according to the Colorado Association of School Boards, which measures that sort of thing.

The Colorado Constitution gives the state responsibility for providing a “thorough and uniform system of free public schools.” The Colorado Constitution also gives locally elected school boards control over instruction in their respective districts.

School board members in Colorado’s 178 districts serve without pay, and they are all prohibited by law from having a significant financial interest in any business transacted by the school district.

The regular term of office for most school board members is four years.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.




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