Daily Editorial: Best fits for school board | VailDaily.com

Daily Editorial: Best fits for school board

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail CO, Colorado

No one should ever envy a school board member.

For no pay and a ton of highly detailed paperwork, you get to face parents with an intense interest in the welfare of their own children, the heck with adages about the “greater good” or “educating every child for success.”

The only child who really matters is their own. Make no mistake about that.

Serving as a member of the school board also happens to be the highest form of elective service. With rare exception, the citizens willing to take on the task are thoughtful, committed and mean well.

We want to applaud everyone who stepped up to run this year, particularly those in the three contested races. Giving voters a choice is a great way to educate the public about the schools. Also, well, it is an elected office. Too often, frankly, school board elections are canceled for lack of interest and the board has to go out and recruit members to appoint.

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We’re also pleased with the quality of the candidates. None is a single-issue candidate. None an anti-TAP zealot. The only agendas appear to be acting in the best interests of the students.

Pardon the observation that every argument about an education issue is carried forward for “the kids,” rendering that sentiment just about useless as a reason to do or not do something. But we’ll take it as a sign that at least everyone’s heart is in the right place. There are worse foundations.

But who is best for each board seat? That’s the question.

From our 50-yard-line perch as the press, we look at the board’s direction, as well as the candidates’ experience, point of view and skills they might bring to the table.

Experience does count in elective office, especially locally. The learning curve is especially steep in education. A board is best served with a good cross section of members. That goes for their skills ” besides the basics of being able to work well with others, a tenet that begins in kindergarten.

So let’s get to our recommendations for this election:

– Margaret Olle just might be the strongest candidate running for any office in some time. That’s no slight to her rival for the seat that Mary Ann Stavney will vacate, Jeanne McQueeney. McQueeney would make a fine school board candidate with her interest in education, her experience as an educator herself and involvement through her own children moving through the system.

Olle, a relative newcomer, has all of those attributes, too. In addition, her energy and enthusiasm are unmatched, she shares her ideas articulately and we see real leadership ability in what can be complex issues.

– Incumbent Jason Benderly brings all the analytical talents of the national-level economist and experienced school board member that he is. Real estate broker Judd Babcock serves on the Charter Academy board and is certainly a viable candidate himself, but the edge tips to Benderly in our recommendation.

– Incumbent Keith Thompson offers the vantage of a teacher and principal who worked in the Eagle County School District for a couple of decades before becoming an educational consult. With the impending departure of Stavney, who has returned to teaching, a professional educator’s insights are very valuable to a school board. Thompson’s historical knowledge of this school district is all the more crucial.

Carrie Benway knows the schools well through her countless volunteer hours. She certainly has the commitment and passion for the school board role. She’d do fine in a board seat. But Thompson is the better fit with this board right now.

Our far more important recommendation is that you vote, whoever you choose for office. The citizens have the reins in our form of government. If only they took them up more consistently, and realized how vital such entities as the local school board really are.

” Don Rogers for the Editorial Board

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