School board candidate Lelia Conlin in her own words
Vail engineer is running to support goals of school district, students and community
The Vail Daily is running Q&As with the 11 candidates running for five seats on the Eagle County Schools’ Board of Education. The questionnaires will run in the order that the candidates appear on the ballot. All school directors are voted on at-large in the county election, meaning eligible electors of the school district vote for one candidate from each director district. Ballots will be mailed out Oct. 8.
Name: Lelia Conlin
Occupation: Structural Engineer
Place of residence: Vail
Length of residence in Eagle County: 17 years
Director District: District B (Avon Elementary, Homestake Peak School, Red Sandstone Elementary, Berry Creek Middle School and Battle Mountain High School)
Have you served on any other boards/commissions/councils in Eagle County or otherwise? I am or have been on the following boards:
- Inman Park Cooperative Preschool: Board of Directors
- Red Sandstone Elementary School: Accountability Committee
- Community Engineering Corps: Technical Review Committee and Steering Committee
- Engineers Without Borders: Structural Committee
- Gray Construction: Charitable Grant Committee
Tell us about your volunteer experiences, involvement in education and service to the community that you live in. How will these experiences enable you to bring value to the board? I have always volunteered time in the community. Today, I am involved in the Eagle Valley community through the town of Vail Public Library, the Red Sandstone Elementary School Accountability Committee and as a school PTO member.
Volunteering is gratifying work for me, and I believe it is vital to support the community in any way I can.
What has been your interaction thus far with Eagle County School district? My daughter attends Red Sandstone Elementary School in Vail, where I volunteer as much time as possible.
What is the value that you will bring to the school board? I hope to bring my experiences as a Vail resident and parent to this vital oversight role. From my decades of work as an engineer, I hope to bring a mindset of respect, cross-discipline collaboration and problem-solving to all board issues.
Why do you want to serve on the school board? Public schools are a cornerstone to a strong community. I am running for Eagle County School Board to support our school district’s mission, serve the children in the district and represent our community as a whole.
What has the current school board done well? And what could it have done better? The school board and district successfully kept schools open throughout the 2020-21 school year. Their support of wellness and mental health in our community is commendable, but more should be done during these tough times. Most importantly, recruiting and retaining educators and staff is the basis for all other goals in the district. The school board should put additional effort into this challenge.
If elected, what’s the main thing you’d like to see the school board accomplish throughout your term? I have no personal agenda and hope to reflect the desires of the community I would represent. But as a district and community, we can always improve. I support the strategic goals the district has set of wellness, equity and multi-tiered systems of support. Through these goals, I would work with the schools and community to provide additional support for our students and staff to be the best they can be.
Over the past few years, Eagle County Schools has prioritized equity practices in its classrooms. Do you feel that the district is equally serving the needs of all students? What could it do better to address any achievement gaps between students? We just had a tough year. I hope the district extends its efforts to focus on the mental and physical wellness of staff, teachers and students. A strong base of mental, emotional and physical well-being will make other objectives around equity and academic achievement possible.
What advancements can be made to address staffing challenges within the school district? Although labor shortages are not a new issue in Eagle County, the pandemic has intensified the problem. Competitive salaries are essential to recruit and retain exceptional educators and staff. Eagle County School District needs to consider how we compare to other mountain districts that offer a similar lifestyle and face similar challenges. We should consider investing in both staffing and educator compensation when it comes to allocating funds.
The school district and board must also consider additional, non-salary support for staff and their families, such as housing and child care.
What specific improvements would you like to see made in the area of student learning/curriculum? Eagle County School District offers a wide array of curriculums for our community.
I work in a very data-driven industry. Therefore, as a parent and board member, I would expect Eagle County School District to continue to evaluate their curriculum choices based on the desired outcomes of those programs. Proactive changes must be made when goals are not met.