Only one Eagle County school board seat contested
Eagle County, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY – With the November election quickly approaching, the only contested school board race in Eagle County is heating up.
Two candidates are vying for a seat in District E of the Eagle County School District, which covers Gypsum. They are Gypsum residents Ross Morgan, 29, and Modesto “Mo” Sanchez, 38. Voters in all districts can cast ballots for the seat.
Morgan is a former math teacher at Eagle Valley High School who works as an engineering technician for the town of Gypsum. Sanchez is a heavy equipment operator for Eagle County Road and Bridge whose son attends Red Hill Elementary and wife teaches at Brush Creek Elementary. They’re competing for a seat school board president Scott Green has occupied for the past eight years.
Here’s where the candidates stand on some of the big issues, from the old Battle Mountain High School building to standardized testing.
Vail Daily: Do you support turning the old Battle Mountain High School into a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school, and why? The school board may vote on Oct. 28, but if not, you will have a stake in this decision.
Modesto Sanchez: I am reserving a yes or no answer until the costs of renovating the old Battle Mountain High School have been determined and presented to the board. The input from the citizens and community leaders of Minturn and Vail would also have an impact on my decision.
Ross Morgan: I do support the change of Battle Mountain High School into a pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school, assuming the change satisfies the following two conditions. One, the change ultimately will save money on operating expenses, and second, the change will improve the student experience. Some ideas the current board is discussing, such as lab schools, could provide excellent training to current teachers in the valley and a wonderful educational experience to the students.
VD: Latinos are a sizable segment of the downvalley population. As their representative, what would be your plans for meeting their needs?
MS: I would spend time listening to what their needs and concerns are. I would also encourage the parents to be active in their child’s school work so the children can achieve their goals for the best education possible.
RM: For new Latino students who struggle with English, I would like to look into summer English language immersion programs. This would be similar to a “math camp” held last summer. This camp provided students who are weak in mathematics the opportunity to get some extra exposure, prior to the beginning of the school year. I believe a similar program for English language learners could be beneficial.
VD: What is the school district’s biggest weakness and how would you help fix it?
MS: I don’t feel there is any one issue that stands out. I am currently gathering information on different areas of concern that many teachers and community members have brought to my attention. If I’m elected, I will work as a team member to help build a stronger school district that our community can remain proud of.
RM: I like the idea of teacher pay being tied to student’s achievement, and therefore think the [performance-based pay] program has wonderful intentions. However, the mentor/master component is hit or miss. In my time as a teacher, I had a wonderful mentor and also a very poor mentor. I would like there more accountability for the mentors and masters. Additionally, I would like to see more support/training for teachers who regularly receive low scores.
VD: Why should constituents vote for you over the other candidate?
MS: I have a strong desire to serve our community as a whole, not just Gypsum or one school. I want to ensure that concerns of students, parents, school district staff and administrators are heard. I will address concerns when they are thoroughly researched in order to make the best possible decision.
RM: During my two years teaching at Eagle Valley High School, my largest concern was always “How can I give these students, the best educational experience?” Frequently, I fought to get students into more rigorous classes. I spent many evenings, weekends and summers working with groups of students to help them see their potential and break down barriers that would otherwise keep them from taking these honors courses.
VD: What specific goals do you have for the school district?
MS: The children’s education is my No. 1 priority. My main goal is to make sure our children always have the best curriculum and teachers in front of them so they can become productive and successful citizens in our community and in the world. I also want to establish myself as a leader who can be relied upon by the teachers, administrators and members of our community.
RM: I want to increase course options available to all students, through our current offerings. Often, talented students or non-native English speakers slip through the cracks and end up in the ‘wrong’ track, often for years at a time. I believe that by having students and parents decide what the student actually needs, students will make good decisions in their choice of curriculum, and will not be limited by what
track they are in.
VD: What if anything can the district do to improve Colorado Student Assessment Program scores?
MS: I’m not sure. I need to research this and look at what other school districts and the Colorado Department of Education have to offer on improving CSAP. If I could come up with any improvements, I would present my thoughts and ideas to the school board and district administration to help in any way, so our students can continue to meet their goals and are proficient or advanced on this state test.
RM: The district should work with educators to find programs that require students to critically analyze each field of study. One such program is the International Baccalaureate Programme. What makes (the program) unique is the attention to staff training, and student assessments that go beyond a typical exam. I know that with [the International Baccalaureate Programme], CSAP scores will rise. More importantly, with a program that many universities recognize, cost of attending college should go down for many.
Vail Daily: What changes, if any, would you like to make to the way the district is handling swine flu?
MS: I would make sure the data of absences of staff and students is kept accurately so if a change is needed, a swift decision could be made so the community and our children are kept safe and healthy. I believe there is a plan in place between the school district and the Eagle County emergency management department.
RM: The school district has handled the H1N1 flu very well thus far. I believe that as long as students have learned about proper hygiene practices, a lot of potential cases of H1N1 can be avoided. I am glad the school district has not taken the extreme steps of closing schools down. This will only cut valuable contact hours with the student, without really addressing the issue of students contracting H1N1 from each other.
Vail Daily: Ask and answer your own question.
RM: You have spent a lot of time talking about students who are college bound. What about students who have alternative pursuits after high school?
RM: Recently, I heard about a program called Pro-Start. This is a multi-year program that works with students in the culinary arts. Eagle Valley High School’s auto program is another program that I know is providing an opportunity for students interested in the automotive field. I would like to see our schools expand upon these programs and create additional, hands on programs.
Sanchez did not submit an answer to this question.
Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or email@example.com.
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