School Board Candidate Q&A: Judd Babcock
School board candidate Judd Babcock answered the following questions posed by the Vail Daily.
For the past 10 years I have been directly involved with schools in the valley, first as executive director and developer of the Vail Christian High School, and then in 2000 as a member of the board and then president of the Eagle County Charter Academy. I also served on the board of the Vail Valley Soccer Club, all of which enabled me to get an insight into the workings of the county school board and which also made me realize the need for some business-like approaches to the problems in running a big business like the board. Both of my daughters went through the school system and now I would like to give back some of my knowledge to the system that today seems to be in need of new faces.
First of all, I am a big supporter of the dual-language program, now in use at several local schools and having tremendous success, as shared to me by numbers of involved parents. I would like to see this program added at other local schools in the near future. There are a number of English as a Second Language (ESL) programs that need additional support from the board in order to bring Hispanic students up to speed quicker than in the past.
I completely support TAP, and believe it is showing many signs of success. The entire concept has the best interests of the students and the teachers at the forefront, and there seems to be total agreement that performance-based pay scales would provide incentive to bring in better teachers and encourage better test scores in the future. There is obviously some problems in the way financial incentives have been structured and yet I also can see that the school district seems to realize these shortcomings and is working on improving them. I have been involved in running my own company for 35 years and feel I have the experience to analyze the choices and find the right solution for the problem.
Part of the answer is seen above in fixing the problems with the TAP program so teachers can see that they will be compensated fairly under the hoped-for improvements that will be made. Also, I intend to introduce several new ideas on how to provide subsidized housing for new teachers arriving in the valley as well as teachers looking to move from rentals to owned homes.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
The Eagle County Charter Academy students make up 7.5 percent of the elementary students in the school system, and they certainly deserve to have safe facilities just like every other school in the valley. It appears that the bond is not a gift, but another form of financing that has not been used before. The vote on this bond should be warned properly and voted by the board after receiving input from all parties. There may also be other alternatives to the situation, but as of today, I believe a bond issue for the common building would be only fair to Eagle County Charter Academy, considering they have never asked for any funding before this date.
I believe the board has done a good job, and I am pleased to see the professional approach it has passed on to the current staff. The last bond issue was a success and the planning that went into its passage was a huge step forward to a system that is growing much faster than other school systems in the state. The staff turnover this year appeared to be a problem, but the board has hired some real professionals to come in and take over in the interim. Certainly the athletic facilities question at the new high school is a mistake that needs to be addressed at once.
Certainly the new super must be young enough to deal with the continued problems brought on by our huge growth in school students, but experienced enough to understand the solutions drawn from other parts of the state and the country. A person who knows how to listen carefully to many different viewpoints and able to communicate those thoughts to the board with ideas on how to solve problems.
Having attended Harvard Business School, I am probably one of the most qualified candidates to help the staff bring on more programs to encourage its students to apply and get accepted to those top schools. There is no reason that our high schools ca not take on the qualities that make many prep schools in the East get their graduates into those schools.
Last week I attended a presentation from the school districts technology expert, John Kuglin, and I was most impressed with his insight into the 21st Century technology challenges. I believe the district will see some fresh ideas from this arena that will impress even the most cynical members of the community. He has studied school technology needs across the globe and brings many new ideas to the district.
To many, this law created a lot of controversy, but one has to look at the choice of not using it or making improvements to a federal bureaucracy that needs a lot more input from the local communities it is supposed to serve. I suggest it be renewed with a lot more participation from school systems like ours that have parents and teachers smart enough to go in and improve what was started.