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Change in leadership for Roaring Fork Valley’s Raising a Reader

After 10 years at Raising a Reader, director Rick Blauvelt is retiring. Cindy Blachly, formerly of Colorado Rocky Mountain School, is taking over as the new director.

“Cindy immediately understood the depth of what we’re trying to achieve, not just with delivering books, but encouraging parents to be more deeply engaged with their children around language,” Blauvelt said.

Raising a Reader has been around for 15 years delivering books to parents with small children from Aspen to Parachute.

Blachly herself enjoyed the program with her two sons when the program was just getting started.

“When my boys were young, my youngest had the red book bag. I really enjoyed all the different books that came into our home and spending time with the boys,” Blachly said.

Blachly ran Colorado Rocky Mountain School’s HS(2), a summer program for students from inner city schools, for the past decade, but wanted an opportunity to be more involved with the local community.

“Working with CRMS was very rewarding, especially the demographic we reached [with HS(2)], but I was really excited to get back to serving our community here in the Roaring Fork Valley,” Blachly said.

Raising a Reader’s classic program is a book exchange program. Families take four books home from school in red bags for a week, and get new books the next week.

But Blauvelt and the staff wanted to try something different, so they launched a pilot program in Parachute called 1-2-3 Let’s Read.

Instead of a book exchange, students between 4 and 6 received a new book every month from October through April, and got to keep the books.

The program was very helpful to families, particularly those who don’t have a lot of children’s books in their home.

“We know families who are most at risk have very few, if any, age-appropriate books for their children, and this starts to build a library for those children and their siblings,” Blachly said.

In this file photo, Rick Blauvelt, outgoing executive director of Raising A Reader, is surrounded by preschoolers from the Valley View Early Learning Center eager to receive their weekly red book bags.
Post Independent file

The program was well-received, Blachly said, but some families still enjoyed the red book bags.

“Some families really liked the red book bags, and others, the kids were really excited to keep the book,” Blachly said.

For teachers, the 1-2-3 Let’s Read takes less time than rotating book bags. It also gives teachers ways to work the material of the book into lessons.

“In the classroom and the home, students have activities that have to do with the same book in both places. The students get very excited about that overlap between the home and school,” Blachly said.

Schools will have the option to choose which program better suits their students this fall.

The important part is for families to give feedback about what is helping their children develop language skills, and spending time bonding, Blachly said.

For Blauvelt, helping parents engage with their children was the ultimate reward.

“My favorite memories were the families who gave feedback about reading with their children,” Blauvelt said.


YouthZone column: Set clear family policies to deter youth substance abuse

At YouthZone, parents tell us they are at a loss about what to do when their kids begin to vape. Whether it is flavored oils, tobacco or marijuana, vaping has reached epidemic proportions with our local youth.

Several communities have taken the lead in changing policies, which is a first step, but definitely not the last. The Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys have the highest rate of youth vaping anywhere in the state, as stated by the public health department.

Along with vaping, the number one charge against youth in 2019 is a minor in possession (MIP) charge. Anglo and Latino, male and female, Aspen to Parachute, vaping and drug and alcohol-abusing teens all find themselves in each other’s company.

Alcohol and marijuana possession compete as the number one offense. Prescription pills, meth, club drugs and cocaine follow closely behind.

Middle school is often when vaping with flavored oil begins. Starting that young can lead to setting unhealthy behaviors quickly, and the perception of harm begins to decrease. That makes the decision to change the flavored oils to tobacco or marijuana even easier.

How do we prevent kids from becoming involved with substance use, including vaping use? Many of the clients sent to YouthZone with MIP charges are asked what their family policy is on substance use.

It’s not surprising to discover that families with experimenting teens are often households without clear expectations. In fact, many of these families’ policies are vague and ambiguous and neither the parent nor the youth understand them. This is a good place to start.

Boundaries that leave no room for experimentation result in a no-tolerance family policy. Using more rigid parameters leaves no question about whether or not there is any gray area to play with. Even though no tolerance is recommended by many substance abuse counselors as well as youth and family service agencies throughout the valley, this policy requires a great deal of discussion between parents and youth.

The bottom line is that parents set these household rules because they love their children and are determined to help them understand the intrinsic dangers of using.

Begin setting any policy around substance use by first having a conversation. The goal is listening to understand, not listening to judge. Parents have the final say, but getting your kid’s input is important.

Clearly define consequences around use and non-use. Support the moments when your kids choose healthy behaviors and friends over experimenting. If they do use, deliver consequences that are clear, related and build responsibility and safety.

It is also imperative that parents seek professional help as soon as they suspect use that is out of control and before it reaches that level. This would be the best parenting.

In addition, parents often struggle with a specific family substance policy when they are users themselves. Feelings of guilt and hypocrisy make it challenging for parents who imply “do as I say, not as I do.” Research has shown that families who suffer from substance abuse have kids who are genetically more likely to develop chemical dependencies.

YouthZone can help. YouthZone’s Drug and Alcohol Prevention class is open to the public. We provide restorative services, counseling and one-on-one parenting support.

For more information on parenting your kids through the perils of vaping and substance abuse, visit us online at www.youthzone.com or give us a call at 970-945-9300.

Lori Mueller is executive director for YouthZone, a Glenwood Springs-based organization providing criminal justice diversion and youth advocacy programs from Aspen to Parachute.

CMC’s financial aid helps Dreamers get through college faster

One year after launching a pilot program for Dreamers, Colorado Mountain College’s approach to help students who fall through the cracks of financial aid is gaining attention.

“We get calls every week on this concept, mostly just to figure out what we’re doing,” Matt Gianneschi, CMC’s chief operating officer, said. Some calls have even come from U.S. senators.

But, most importantly, the income-share agreement has proven effective in helping students ineligible for most financial aid because of their immigration status transition to full-time coursework.

Gabby Cerros, 20, jumped at the chance to join the Fund Suenos (Dream Fund) when CMC stared offering it last fall. The program is targeted at young people who were not born in the U.S., but were brought here as young children by their parents and grew up in the U.S.

Cerros is studying to be a certified medical assistant at the CMC Rifle campus.

Fund Suenos “gives me a lot of motivation to keep coming to class and to graduate,” Cerros said.

Fund Suenos is CMC’s approach to a novel financial aid philosophy that is becoming something of a movement in higher education.

The idea started when CMC wanted to do something for students who qualified under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program (often called Dreamers) and were ineligible for most financial aid.

Most people have to borrow to attend college full time, but when federal student loans and other aid unavailable, CMC noticed that students take classes slower, keeping them out of the skilled workforce longer.

Students in DACA are ineligible for federal funds, but are still seeking careers through CMC.

“There was no option for certain students, and yet they were enrolled in our institution and pursuing degrees and certificates that would lead to good jobs here,” Gianneschi said.

 The question became, “how might we enable students to move through a little bit more effectively?” he said.

The principle of ISAs is that instead of a traditional student loan, borrowers commit to signing over a percentage of their income after graduation to pay back what they borrowed for school.

At CMC, students sign up to pay back 4 percent of their income when they enter the workforce. For a CMC graduate making $30,000 annually (the minimum for the income withdrawals to occur), that would be about $100 per month.

While non-DACA students may also fit some of the categories, the first year of the pilot program was designed to help current students who were falling through the cracks.

When CMC launched Fund Suenos in 2018, no one was talking about ISAs. Now, there are programs at several other colleges around the country, but none are quite like CMC’s.

It is still a pilot program, and may evolve slightly. The Colorado legislature this year made state financial aid available to undocumented students, which may change how the program helps.

“Our ISA program may be more of a supplemental or gap-filling program rather than the only option available to the students,” Gianneschi said.

In the meantime, the program has helped. About 15 students participated in the first year of Fund Suenos, with more ready to sign up this fall. Fund Suenos is funded only by donations, which caps the total amount that the foundation can pay out. Once the students pay the money back — without any interest — it will go to a new student.

For Cerros, who was paying out of pocket for each CMC course she took, the program allows her to focus more on school. She still works full time, but she sees the value of getting through school faster and on to her career in medicine.

“It takes a big weight off my shoulders,” Cerros said.


Local’s Choice ‘Best Teacher’ Chris Benson says he’s the ‘type of guy that likes to learn stuff’

In his annual staff evaluation with teacher Chris Benson, Glenwood Springs High School Principal Paul Freeman had only positive feedback.

“I said, in short, ‘Chris, you’re a phenomena, and in the top 1 percent of teachers,’” Freeman said.

Benson, 31, has taught social studies at GSHS for two years, and this year was voted best teacher in the Post Independent’s Local’s Choice.

It’s not the first time he has been lauded at GSHS. He was valedictorian when he graduated GSHS in 2006, and he hasn’t stopped learning since.

“I’m the type of guy that likes to learn stuff,” Benson said.

His principal agrees.

“He’s always thinking about what he can do better,” Freeman said.

Benson said he is surprised and flattered to win the Best Teacher award. But in Benson’s family, being a teacher is far from surprising.

“It’s like a weird cult or something in my family,” Benson said.

His father taught at Glenwood Springs Elementary and now drives a school bus. His mother taught elementary school for years as well, but the pedagogical proclivity doesn’t stop there.

“My sister teaches, my brother teaches. My brother-in-law teachers, my sister-in-law used to teach until she had kids,” Benson said.

Benson’s wife, Melissa, is a nurse, and the only immediate family member who is not a teacher. Only time will tell if Benson’s 7-month-old son, Luke, will become a teacher.

Benson said his parents and other teachers influenced him, but he also saw the positive role his parents played in his peers’ lives growing up.

“You get inspired by teachers you have over the years who make learning fun. For me, I wanted to do that for other kids, as much as I can,” he said.

After graduating from Colorado State University in 2010, he got a job teaching at Riverside Middle School in New Castle. He coached basketball at Glenwood Springs High School for several years before he was hired to teach history and civics in 2017.

Benson said it’s a little strange teaching where he went to high school, even though the building has been rebuilt since he graduated. There are about 10 teachers he remembers learning from as a student still at GSHS. His brother’s name is still listed in the halls for track accomplishments.

In addition to the standard career development opportunities that many teachers seek, Benson said he likes to steal ideas from his colleagues.

When he first arrived at the high school, he realized he would have to emphasize different things compared to the middle school.

In high school history, for example, there’s an element of students learning to write strong, argumentative essays.

“During my first year of teaching, during lunch break, I would sit down with as many English teachers as I could to ask about how to best teach good writing,” Benson said.

“I probably annoy most of the teachers in the building with me,” Benson said.


Hauser column: CMC’s commitment — community first

Each June, when most of our mountain resort communities are gearing up to welcome summer visitors and host signature festivals and events, the team at Colorado Mountain College has its first opportunity to exhale and prepare for the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1.

This year is no different, although conditions in 2019 have added new challenges and opportunities for your local college.

Most of the mountain region is doing well economically. Unemployment rates remain at historic lows, and local sales appear to have rebounded above pre-recession levels. Home prices continue to climb as do the local resident populations. Restaurants are full and crowds are ever-present — as are help wanted signs.

Though its campuses are generally smaller and highly tailored to the specific communities each serves, as a whole, CMC is one of the larger employers on the Western Slope. Consequently, the trends we see at the college usually reveal realities observed in the broader mountain economy.

The extremely low unemployment rate combined with ever-escalating costs of living in our mountain towns means that all employers are competing for a diminishing number of qualified employees. While this has always been true in remote resort towns, the intensity of the current marketplace is forcing employers to rethink strategies for recruiting and retaining the best employees. CMC is no different.

Historically, colleges like CMC could conduct regional and national searches and expect robust pools of applicants and many highly viable applicants. Over the past year or two, this has changed, especially for executive-level positions.

Despite conducting vigorous searches, expending thousands of dollars and devoting hundreds of hours of staff and faculty time, CMC has seen several major national searches fail. Finalist candidates collide with reality when considering a move to our high-cost region. Their current employers counter CMC’s offer to prevent a highly talented professional from leaving.

These results are costly for the college, frustrating for those who participate on the search committees, and a waste of time and talent that could have been applied to CMC’s core role and mission: serving our local communities and feeding the workforce with exceptionally trained nurses, teachers, police and other first responders, firefighters, entrepreneurs and outdoor industry professionals, to name a few.

Certainly, CMC could compromise its principles and just hire “adequate” employees. But, why settle for anything less than excellence? My principal responsibility in leading a dynamic college means building the best team possible and promising every member of our team that their work matters — and that they matter. For this reason, CMC will not compromise its quality due to an extremely tight labor market. Instead, we will invest in talented professionals right in our backyard and who are already committed to the region we love.

This strategy is paying off. Over the past year or so, I have authorized a number of “interim” positions, approved several internal promotions and made one external executive appointment to maintain continuity, grow our own talent, and position the college for continued and uninterrupted success.

We have focused on increasing our employees’ skills by providing several internal leadership programs to support them in their own professional development. This year, more students graduated from CMC than at any other time in the college’s history, and the college’s operations remain at or below inflation while we make the investments necessary to keep college facilities and technologies up to date.

The current economic circumstances will undoubtedly evolve as the economy matures through its current bull market cycle. A more “normal” cycle of employment will likely return. CMC will not, however, become complacent or lower its standards. We have had to rethink the ways to ensure the college has the human capital it needs to achieve the very ambitious goals it set for itself, but we will never compromise our vision and aspirations.

Our world-class communities deserve world-class campuses with world-class leaders. The current employment market won’t trip us up or force us to shift these priorities. This is our commitment to you.

Carrie Besnette Hauser is president & CEO of Colorado Mountain College. She can be reached at president@coloradomtn.edu and @CMCPresident.

Superintendent’s Corner: Healthcare for children is common sense

The French philosopher Voltaire wrote a series of letters in the 1830s commenting on several ways that the English were sensibly addressing issues of the age, one of which was smallpox.

The English had been exposing infants to small doses of the disease in order to prevent massive outbreaks and catastrophic loss of life. While the French generally considered the English to be “fools and madmen” for “giving their children smallpox to keep them from having it,” Voltaire presented compelling statistics to defend the practice: He claimed that 60% of the population was exposed to smallpox in the 18th century and that a fifth of the population was “killed or disfigured by the disease.” However, “of all those who are inoculated in England, not a one dies, unless he is infirm and condemned to death in other respects; no one is marked with it; no one gets smallpox a second time.”

In his era, Voltaire blamed the “curates and doctors” for not allowing the practice to take root in France and for ignoring the overwhelming evidence in favor of vaccinations, thus costing thousands of lives. Although he was cautious in expressing criticism of power groups in his society who rallied forceful opposition against scientific practices, he was ultimately imprisoned for his controversial views and for his emphatic defense of evidence over superstition.

Three centuries later, we are stuck in the same debate, and science is still on the defensive. Colorado’s vaccination rate for kindergartners dropped from 2017 to 2018, increasing the number of children’s lives at risk by thousands. A bill being considered by the General Assembly this legislative season to make it harder for parents to exempt their children from vaccinations died in the face of stiff political opposition and lack of support from the governor.

Colorado remains one of the easiest states for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children and, consequently, has the lowest vaccination rate in the nation. Colorado’s vaccination rate is below what experts consider “herd immunity” — the threshold needed to be established to avoid a major outbreak.

As an educator, it isn’t my role to administer health advice. However, it is my responsibility to advocate for conditions that lead to better educational outcomes for students, and the relationship between health and education is well-established. We know that healthy children learn more in school and that health factors can inhibit school success.

For that reason, the Roaring Fork Schools have been working in partnership with local health providers to increase access to comprehensive medical, mental and dental health services for our students. We have school-based health centers in Basalt and Carbondale and are working to expand those services to Glenwood Springs. We have revised our sports physical forms to encourage a thorough well-child check rather than a simple clearance to play, knowing that sports physicals are the only contact that some students ever have with a medical provider. We would like all students, not just athletes, to have a regular well-child exam annually.

We regularly administer the Colorado Heathy Kids Survey to identify early warning signs of risky and health-threatening adolescent behaviors so that we can intervene with early education and prevention. We have worked with community agencies to provide increased access to mental health services and to combat substance use and addiction. We train all of our teachers in identifying signs of suicidality. And we have family liaisons in every school to help all families remove barriers to, and gain access to, health care and other vital services.

We are grateful to many organizations and government agencies — too many to name — for partnering to provide or underwrite health services, not only because health is an important end in itself, but because we know that healthy children miss less school and that children learn more when they are in school.

Summer is a good time to get caught up on well-child exams and vaccinations. I would love to see every child return to school in August having received an annual well-child exam and for every child who doesn’t have a legitimate, medical exemption to be vaccinated. If cost is a barrier for you or a child you know to getting access to health services, you can contact our Family Resource Center for help in finding affordable care.

Voltaire quipped, “Common sense is not so common.” Keeping our children healthy is just common sense, and providing them health services should be more common.

Rob Stein is superintendent of Roaring Fork Schools.

CMC trustees appoint ski and finance expert to board

Colorado Mountain College on Wednesday selected Bob Kuusinen to fill the Routt County seat on the college Board of Trustees vacated by Ken Brenner until the November election.

Kuusinen was particularly attractive for his strong financial background, several board members noted. He is currently the market president for Vectra Bank in Steamboat Springs, and has deep connections to the ski industry.

“Colorado Mountain College is an incredible asset to our community, and I know those of us in Steamboat Springs understand that,” Kuusinen said. I am honored to serve CMC, its students and the region through governance and setting policies that guide the college’s strategic direction.”

Kuusinen will fill the seat until Nov. 5, when it will be subject to election. In his application to the board, he said he would be interested in running.

The board voted 4-1 — East Garfield County Trustee Kathy Goudy voting nay — in favor of Kuusinen after it interviewed six candidates for the seat. Several trustees expressed appreciation for the number and quality of the candidates.

“I think this was the most outstanding group of candidates I could ever believe,” board member Pat Chlouber of Lake County said.

“I appreciated those people who had a strong association with CMC, and those that had one a little more remote via a child or a friend,” she said.

Several of the candidates previously taught for CMC, and every candidate had some personal connection to the college. Kuusinen said he gained new appreciation for CMC after his daughter attended for two years before transferring to another school.

His resume says he started as a grill cook at Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation in 1974, and worked his way up to vice president of operations by 1990. He started in the banking industry in 2003, and said he is nearing retirement from Vectra, allowing him more time to serve on the board.

Kuusinen is currently a board member of the Mountain Village Partnership, a long-time Rotarian, and has been part of numerous other districts and nonprofit boards in the Yampa Valley.

Kuusinen’s financial background best fits the needs of the board, at least until November, Eagle County board member Chris Romer said.

Romer added that he sometimes questions whether staff members at CMC campuses are best suited for the high-level work of the board.

“I certainly appreciate the institutional knowledge, but I have questions of, can you [segue] from years of staff work to changing hats completely to college-wide versus campus focus, and a governance role,” Romer said.

The board asked each candidate what they see as the role of trustee.

“I think board trustees need to keep in mind the fact that they’re not managing this entity, they are policy [and] government pieces in the organization,” Kuusinen told the board.

“You need to stay up at the policy, governance level, and leave the management to the management group,” he said.

Kuusinen said one thing he would like the CMC board to work on is more four-year degree programs at the Steamboat Springs Campus, and across the network.


Legacy of teacher walkouts could be more political activism

OKLAHOMA CITY — Betty Collins was born and raised in Tulsa, but the eighth grade history teacher hadn’t been to the state Capitol in Oklahoma City until last spring, when she educators throughout the state walked off the job to protest for better wages and public school funding.

Since that successful walkout, Collins has volunteered for pro-education political campaigns and revived her school’s Parent Legislative Action Committee chapter. She has also been back to the Statehouse twice this year to press officials from her district to support public schools and helped host a meet-and-greet with area lawmakers at her school.

The continued political engagement of Collins, many other educators like her and their supporters suggests that the teacher movement that sparked walkouts in half a dozen states last year didn’t end with the election of dozens of teachers to state legislatures or hard-won gains in teacher pay and school funding. Teacher unions in Oklahoma and other walkout states, including Arizona, Kentucky and West Virginia, all report increases in membership since the demonstrations, and many are busy recruiting political candidates for 2020.

“The main thing for me is getting other teachers to be active,” Collins said. “We’ve found that teachers have a huge voice, and if we can just get more teachers more engaged, that voice will only be louder and harder to ignore.”

In Oklahoma, the movement resulted in a slight philosophical shift in the Republican-controlled Legislature. A record number of teachers ran for and won seats in the Legislature last year, and energized supporters participated in political campaigns and helped oust a record 12 Republican incumbents from office, including eight who had voted against a tax hike to fund teacher raises.

Spurred by the threat of a work stoppage last year, the Oklahoma Legislature has now given teachers most of what they wanted for two consecutive years, including big boosts in public school funding and back-to-back pay raises.

“The thing is, you don’t have to change party control in the Legislature or even change legislators to affect change” there, said Keith Gaddie, a professor and political scientist at the University of Oklahoma. “All you have to do is scare them. And every lawmaker is going to scoff when someone like me says you have to scare them, but the fact is they are all scared to lose re-election.”

Although there was no organized walkout this year, teachers continued to be a presence at the Capitol. Delegations of teachers and administrators from throughout the state regularly met with their elected officials to lobby for education and oppose measures they viewed as anti-public education, such as a bill that would have extended tax credits for private school scholarships.

“I lovingly refer to it as ‘teacher Tuesdays’ because most of the schools that I represent have continuous delegations that come every Tuesday,” said state Sen. Carri Hicks, a Democrat and former elementary school teacher who won what had been a Republican-held seat in northwestern Oklahoma City last November. “It’s a very tangible reminder that the education community is watching.”

Parents are also becoming more politically active, with new Parent Legislative Action Committee chapters, which are nonpartisan groups of pro-education volunteers, popping up in school districts throughout the state.

Misty Bradley, a mother of three school-age children in the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, said it was during the teacher walkout that she saw photos of public schools with broken furniture, leaky roofs and textbooks that dated back to her own high school days.

“I already knew that teachers weren’t paid and respected enough, but I definitely was awakened to the reality that it was a lot worse than I’d ever understood,” Bradley said. “I was ashamed for our state.”

Bradley and a group of other parents from her district helped form a PLAC chapter, and for the first time, she became involved in a political campaign.

“I gave money. I talked to neighbors and friends about who they were voting for. I began to have conversations that I would have avoided before. It was too important not to say something.”

Although there have been clear legislative victories for public education, some Republicans are still bitter about the walkouts. Bills were introduced this year to punish teachers who participate in walkouts, and although they didn’t pass, the Oklahoma Republican Party changed its platform to call for withholding state funds for school districts that close during walkouts.

“I’ve always said it’s going to take two election cycles to make a difference,” said Alberto Morejon, an eighth grade history teacher from Stillwater whose Facebook page has become an online meeting place for teachers across the state. “After the walkout last year, I think we made a huge difference in the House. … But in 2020, we have to make a huge difference in the Senate if we want to continue to help public education.”

Sculptor Madeline Wiener speaks at CMC

Madeline Wiener’s public art stands across the globe, and June 17 the sculptor will speak at Colorado Mountain College about her craft.

The artist — who lives in Denver and carves in Marble — has been tasked with creating a sculpture for the North Landing site along Sixth Street where the former Grand Avenue Bridge once touched down.

Known widely for her series of work called “Bench People,” Wiener’s informal CMC discussion begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday in CMC’s Glenwood Center at 1402 Blake Ave. The event, which will conclude at 8 p.m., is free and open to the public.

Wiener studied at the New York School of Visual Arts, and her resume to date includes sculptures as near as “Flower Girl” in the Denver Botanic Gardens, which was carved from Colorado Yule Marble, to works found abroad in Scotland and India.

“I am a stone carver for many reasons. I love the physical and mental challenge of this medium. I am always seeking the most powerful and sensual form and creating the perfect tactile surface for each piece,” Wiener stated on her website madelinewiener.com.

“I enjoy bringing the viewer into the sculpture itself, either by relating through personal emotions or by literally providing an opportunity to climb or sit on/in the form. Carving stone and exploring its potential is what gives me energy.”

Hamilton says goodbye to school board

The Roaring Fork School board bid farewell to Matt Hamilton, who is leaving the board after more than seven years to take a job in Denver.

“It’s been a tremendous joy for me to be part of this for the past seven and a half years,” Hamilton said at his final meeting Wednesday.

Current board members and school administration staff thanked Hamilton for his work in a resolution honoring his time on the board of education.

Superintendent Rob Stein said Hamilton “has a vision and passion for a kind of learning that puts students at the center. He believes sincerely in hearing all voices.”

 “I am grateful to Matt for teaching me how to ask the fierce questions while maintaining an atmosphere of respect,” board chair Jen Rupert said.

Hamilton joked that his work on the board may have rankled some.

“I had a friend from graduate school, who shall remain nameless, who always issued a blanket apology before he went out on Friday nights. To everybody he saw he issued a blanket apology ahead of time. I probably should have done that seven and a half years ago,” Hamilton said.

“But I hope you all know, at the end of the day… everyone who serves in this role does it because we want to serve,” he added.

Hamilton announced he would be leaving the board of education in May, stating that his new role with VF Corporation, a Denver-based apparel company whose brands include The North Face, Dickies, Timberland and Vans, would preclude him from serving on the board.

Hamilton’s board seat, which covers about half of Carbondale, was already up for election in November. The district plans to appoint a replacement for the few months before the election.

The school board is asking those interested in filling the seat through the election to fill out an application by Aug. 18. The board will hold a special public meeting to consider interim candidates.

Some board members thought it would be confusing to ask people interested in the seat to fill out both an election form, and apply to be appointed for the two months leading up to the election.

At a board of education meeting in May, the board discussed the options of leaving the seat open until the election, but decided to follow the processes in their bylaws despite the odd timing.

State law says a school board must fill a vacant seat 60 days after the vacancy is declared. The board will declare a vacancy at its next regular meeting in August.

To be eligible for the board, a person must reside in the open district and be a registered elector in that area for at least 12 months.

The other two school board seats up for election in November are District C, covering south Glenwood Springs and currently held by Mary Elizabeth Geiger, and District D, covering downtown and West Glenwood, currently held by Shane Larson.