5 Eagle County Board of Education seats are up for election in November
Interested residents have from now until Aug. 27 to submit their nomination petition
The seven members of Eagle County Schools’ Board of Education represent the diverse needs of all students across the county. This November, five of the board seats will be open for election.
“The work that I’ve done on the schools has just been so rewarding,” said Eagle County Board of Education President Kate Cocchiarella in a previous interview with the Vail Daily. “I do it out of love and dedication to the kids.”
While the election for these seats won’t be held until Nov. 2 — when it will be held in coordination with the county election — candidates must begin preparing now in order to be on the ballot this fall.
The first step for the election is the nomination petition. Interested parties can pick up the petition at the school district office in Eagle from Missy Gerard, who is the executive assistant and dedicated election official for Eagle County Schools.
All potential candidates must collect 50 signatures from registered Eagle County voters with a completed address on their petition. These petitions must be completed and returned to Gerard by Aug. 27. At that time, Gerard will verify the petition signatures, and on Sept. 1, Gerard will host a drawing to determine the order the candidates are listed on the ballot.
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Of the five available seats, two of the board members — Cocchiarella and Vice President Shelly Jarnot — are term limited and not eligible to run for re-election this fall. The holders of the other three available seats — Kelly Alter, Michelle Stecher and Fernando Almanza — could run for re-election. Whether they will or will not run for re-election has yet to be announced.
The five seats that will be included in the election represent the following director districts and schools:
- District G: Avon Elementary, Brush Creek Elementary, Eagle Valley Elementary, Edwards Elementary, Homestake Peak School, Berry Creek Middle School, Battle Mountain High School and Eagle Valley High School
- District F: Avon Elementary, Edwards Elementary, Berry Creek Middle School and Battle Mountain High School
- District E: Gypsum Elementary, Red Hill Elementary, Gypsum Creek Middle School and Eagle Valley High School
- District B: Avon Elementary, Homestake Peak School, Red Sandstone Elementary, Berry Creek Middle School and Battle Mountain High School
- District A: Avon Elementary, Edwards Elementary, Homestake Peak School, Red Sandstone Elementary, Berry Creek Middle School and Battle Mountain High School
Candidates must live within the boundaries of the director district they wish to represent on the board of education. Additional requirements for candidates include:
- You must be a registered voter in the district for at least 12 months prior to the election
- You cannot have been convicted of a sexual offense against a child
- You cannot campaign as a member of a political party
If only one candidate runs for an available seat, the district can cancel the election for that seat.
“Anybody who’s contemplating taking one of these seats that’s coming open, they should do their due diligence and some deep research into what the job entails and what the responsibilities are and what you’re able to accomplish,” Cocchiarella said at the May 26 board meeting.
Members of the school board have previously expressed their desire for diverse voices to consider joining the board.
“If we have a more diverse representation on the school board, our conversations will be more robust and weighing various backgrounds and needs of different types of families,” Stecher previously told the Vail Daily in April. “The benefits will trickle down to the students that we serve and their families, because the board can speak from a more informed perspective and engage in respectful dialogue, bringing in unique perspectives.”
Paying board members
Following the November elections, this also could be the first school board to receive compensation for its services. A new bill was signed into law May 17 stating that Colorado Board of Education members can now be compensated for their services to the board.
Prior to this bill, Board of Education members were volunteer positions. However, advocates for the bill held that it could increase diversity and representation on these boards.
“In Eagle County, we have a student population that has not always been reflected or represented in our board of education members,” said Karen Kolibaba, president of the Eagle County Education Association, in April. “Our average working people often can’t afford to take on the responsibility of the school board position because of their job commitments, and that leaves only those who are financially able to do it, which more often than not shrinks the pool of diversity.”
While the bill provides some guidelines for the amount of pay that members can only be compensated for official board days, with the compensation not exceeding $150 per day for more than five days of service per week, it ultimately leaves the amount and the decision up to each district’s board.
The Eagle County school board intends to host a discussion about board compensation at its next meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 11. After hosting hybrid meetings on Zoom and in person for the past several months, this will be the first meeting hosted entirely in person.
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at email@example.com.