Newcomers vie for school board seat in Gypsum
Eagle County, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – A former math teacher and a well-known community sports coach are vying for a seat on the Eagle County school board in the only contested local school board race on November’s ballot.
Ross Morgan, a former math teacher at Eagle Valley High School, will compete against Modesto “Mo” Sanchez, a baseball coach for the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District, for a seat in District E, which covers Gypsum.
That seat is open because School Board President Scott Green will reach his term limit. He’s retiring from the post after eight years.
Sanchez, a 38-year-old Gypsum resident, has several ties to the school district. His son, Jonas, is a second-grader at Red Hill Elementary. Also, his wife, Kim, is a first-grade teacher at Brush Creek Elementary.
“Being that my son’s in the school district, I have a vested interest as far as what he’s being taught at the school,” Sanchez said. “I’d like to be involved with some of the decisions that are made for our children and how it’s going to affect them in the future.”
Sanchez said he’s developed a good relationship with his neighbors and the kids he coaches since he moved to Gypsum in 2006. If elected, he hopes to be accessible to the community.
After speaking with many teachers in the district, Sanchez said he wants to address concerns over the performance-based pay portion of the professional development program for teachers. He said master teachers and principals use the program to evaluate teachers and their performance in the classroom.
“My concern is that there isn’t a ‘checks and balance’ system of masters and principals to not isolate a teacher due to a personality conflict, then evaluate that teacher unfairly,” he said. “If I’m elected onto the school board, I would like to monitor the evaluation system to make sure it is being used how it was designed to be used – for teachers to improve on their weaknesses and strengths.”
While Sanchez will stress his ties to the community, Morgan will look to his experience in the schools.
Morgan, 29, also of Gypsum, served as a math teacher at Eagle Valley High School from 2006 to 2008. Presently, he works as an engineering technician for the town of Gypsum.
Morgan decided to run for the school board because, he said, he wants to change what he sees as an unfair system that blocks some students from taking upper-level math courses at the high school.
If students perform poorly on a placement exam, they cannot take upper level classes like calculus, he said.
“My concern was that we’ve got these kids, they want to take math classes,” he said. “When you look at the U.S., one of our biggest faults is we have a lot of students who don’t want to take math or do the extra work to take some of these math classes. Yet when we have kids who do want to take these classes we’re denying them access and that never sat right with me.”
Along with widening access to math classes, Morgan wants to expand the International Baccalaureate program to Eagle Valley High School and other schools, as long as teachers support it. With the diploma program, students would engage in higher-level thinking in six subjects. For instance, instead of just studying history, the class may explore ‘How does history get told through the ages?’ Morgan said.
“It looks into the whys and the inquisitive nature that makes school more interesting,” he said.
Aside from Morgan’s experience at Eagle Valley High School, he also taught theater in Fort Collins for eight years, which gave him a unique perspective on the arts.
As he sets out on the campaign trail, he’s been talking with parents about their concerns and the changes they want to see in the district.
District E, which includes Gypsum and areas west and north, is the only region in the school district with a contested race in the Nov. 3 election.
Mark Conlin is running unopposed for a seat in District B, which covers most of Vail. That seat will open up when current board member Andy Arnold reaches his term limit.
Incumbent Brian Nolan is running unopposed in District F, which covers Avon and parts of Eagle-Vail.
Jason Benderly did not seek re-election in district G, which covers parts of Edwards. No one is running for that seat. The board is accepting letters and resumes for the position. Members plan to interview candidates on Oct. 28 and appoint one to the seat on Nov. 11.
High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.