Roaring Fork School District board candidates speak at second forum
The Roaring Fork School District Board of Education candidates spoke to the public again on Wednesday in advance of November’s election.
The district hosted three of the four candidates at its district office in Carbondale ahead of the meeting of its current members. Questions submitted were from specific stakeholders of the district — teachers, employees, parents, etc. — and moderated by Cristal Logan of the Aspen Institute.
District A candidates Chase McWhorter and Kenny Teitler appeared. District E candidate Kathryn Kuhlenberg was present. Kuhlenberg’s opponent Steven Fotion was unable to attend but submitted a statement in his absence.
The forum’s five questions centered around teacher retention, supporting students of diverse backgrounds, supporting the mill levy override increase, COVID-19 management and collaborative problem solving.
On the topic of pandemic management, the three present school board candidates agreed that keeping kids in classrooms was a priority of the district, as is student safety. Kuhlenberg and Teitler focused on trusting guiding bodies like the state and the Centers for Disease Control.
“If keeping kids in school means that we need to mask to avoid quarantines, then we need to do that,” Kuhlenberg said. “I don’t go to a butcher to get my taxes done. I’m not a public health official.”
McWhorter focused on the mental health aspect of masking, saying emergency room visits for those kinds of issues skyrocketed. He would like more communication with parents on policy changes.
He also took a different stance on the mill levy override — a ballot measure that would source up to $7.7 million in property taxes to increase employee salary — than the other two present candidates, echoing a sentiment he made in Monday’s Issues & Answers forum — that he is generally against taxes and would want “a microscope” on the money to ensure it is being spent as it is being pitched to voters.
McWhorter also wanted to emphasize his belief that it wouldn’t permanently solve the district’s issues with wages.
“I don’t think in the next few years that it’ll be enough,” McWhorter said. “Even if you get this, you still need to take a hard look at a lot of things, because I don’t think cost of living will go down, and I would want to have plans in place when it’s not enough.”
Both Teitler and Kuhlenberg reiterated their support for the mill levy override increase, ballot issue 5B.
Teitler focused on his background as a bilingual teacher in the district for more than a decade and his ability to serve the Latino populations in his responses.
As he did in Monday’s forum, he once again cited the attendance at the forum not being representative of the district’s more than 50% Latino student body. The vast majority of attendees at both forums were Anglo.
“We have very different needs on how we meet the needs of our Latino population and our Anglo population,” Teitler said. “One of the ways is making sure that we are taking steps that will bring the Latino families into our schools, into our environments and into our meetings.”
Ballots were mailed out on Oct. 8 and are due back by election day on Nov. 2.
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