Parent opinions split on RFSD superintendent candidates
If it’s inspiration Carbondale resident Artie Rothman was looking for in a school superintendent candidate, he found it Tuesday night in Ken Ladouceur. Rothman, an unabashed critic of some of the Roaring Fork School District’s policies, said Ladouceur may represent change that is sorely needed in local schools. The opinions of some parents who showed up at three superintendent candidate meet-and-greet sessions the RFSD board held this week showed that no one candidate stood out above the rest. Some parents agreed that Ladouceur was the most inspirational candidate and Assistant Superintendent Judy Haptonstall was the candidate most familiar with the district. The board held meet-and-greet sessions in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs on Monday and Tuesday nights, asking each of the three candidates about their potential approach to student achievement and unifying RFSD’s three communities. Between about 30 and 50 people – many of them RFSD employees, board members and their families – showed up to each forum. The greatest turnout was in Carbondale, and the lowest was in Glenwood. Ladouceur became passionate when talking about student achievement, calling teaching only for high standardized test scores “immoral” because a good education encompasses much more than just tests – it involves learning critical thinking skills, creativity, technical training and more, he said. “We do it (teach) from a cultural sense, and it’s culture and climate that you have to establish in your schools,” the Canada native said. “You will get results, and I don’t want to lose that.”Candidate Delbert W. Jarman followed, citing his work as a superintendent training teachers how to use laptops his district bought for each of them, creating a long-range vision for the district’s children and developing in-house programs for staff training. Haptonstall cited her help in the creation of a family resource center in Basalt schools, the pre-collegiate program and use of community liaisons as her contribution to student achievement. But, she said, echoing Ladouceur, “Kids aren’t test scores. They’re human beings, and it’s all about them as a whole person.”Each candidate shared similar visions about how to unify RFSD’s communities, all saying it’s necessary for a superintendent to listen to the needs of local community members. “You gotta give people the opportunity to be heard, and you gotta give them the feeling that you’re listening,” Jarman said. “They have to feel there’s a need for coming together, and coming together is for the benefit of the children.”Ladouceur took that a step further, saying that unifying the community involves decisive, strong leadership and encouraging residents to set aside their self interests for the good of the group.Overall, parents seemed impressed with all three candidates. “The one that stood out the most was Ken,” Rothman said at the Carbondale forum. “He was the one I found most inspiring, and I think inspiration is something we sorely lack here.”Rothman said Haptonstall is unfit for the superintendent’s chair. “Credentials-wise, she seems to have the worst credentials of the three here. I think she’s proven not to have the ability to bring the community together or the parents together.”But former RFSD teacher Cindy Washburn, of Glenwood, praised Haptonstall. “My initial thinking was we need somebody from the outside just because of the public view of the district right now,” Washburn said. “But when I read the stuff (in the Post Independent) on Judy Haptonstall, she’s been there, she knows it and I think she’s done a wonderful job.”Despite her praise of Haptonstall, Washburn said it’s clear either Haptonstall or Jarman should be the next superintendent. “My only question would be about the CSAPs and how (Jarman) would handle that,” Washburn said. Carbondale resident Denise Moss said Ladouceur stood out among the three. “I thought they were all qualified,” she said. “It’s really nice to hear CSAPs as not being the end-all that we’re educating our kids and here to meet their needs and to give them a well-rounded education for life-long learners.”About Ladouceur, she said, “I was really impressed by him.”Jerry Evans, of Carbondale, said at the Basalt forum that he was impressed with Haptonstall’s knowledge of RFSD’s communities and the people the district serves, calling Haptonstall and Ladouceur “visionary” leaders. “I like Ken,” Evans said. “I thought he gave some pretty inspirational ideas of student achievement and working with the communities. Maybe we need that – someone who sees things beyond what’s been going on the last 10 or 15 years.”Evans said he thought Jarman has much to offer, “but I just didn’t feel that his sense of educational mission was very clear.”Basalt resident Tony Salguero said all the candidates were excellent, and he’s confident any of the three would do a good job as superintendent. “They all have their own ideas (about) how to help build up the district,” Salguero said. Paula Matheson, of Glenwood, said she’s unsure who stood out among the rest. “I need to digest things that I’ve just heard,” she said. “I know Judy pretty well because she’s spent so much time here at the district. They all seem very qualified and very interesting to listen to.”Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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