The four Roaring Fork School District board candidates in their words
Note: Since the publishing of this story, Chris Becker announced he will not actively campaign for a spot on the Board of Education. His withdrawal is covered in this story.
Five candidates will vie for two seats on the Roaring Fork School District Board of Education on Nov. 2.
In District E — currently occupied by Jennifer Schurer — Chris Becker, Steven Fotion and Kathryn Kuhlenberg are the candidates. In District A, Chase McWhorter and Kenny Teitler will compete for Jen Rupert’s position.
According to Ballotpedia, county clerks are expected to mail out ballots 18-22 days before the election, or Oct. 15 at the latest for the Nov. 2 election.
In advance of their campaigns, the Post Independent reached out to each candidate for a brief introduction in their words. Here are the five candidates for the Roaring Fork School District Board of Education:
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Personal background: I don’t have a background in education, and I haven’t lived in the Roaring Fork Valley longer than the other candidates. I’m a parent with kids about to enter the school system. I work in publishing and graduated from the University of Southern California where I balanced school and being a member of Rose Bowl champion football teams.
Educational philosophy: Students should be taught how to think, not what to think. Anything outside of core subjects should be left to parents.
Stakeholder philosophy: Empowering the student/parent/teacher relationship should be prioritized. Board or administrative staff should support, not dictate, with the board overseeing administrative staff.
Organizational philosophy: Transparency and accountability should be prioritized with elected board members remembering they are elected to serve voters.
Political philosophy: “Rules for thee, not for me” bureaucratic elitism is a problem across the country and is not limited to any particular political party.
My name is Kenny Teitler. I have lived in Carbondale for 26 years, and in the Roaring Fork Valley for 29 years. I taught in the Roaring Fork School District for 26 years, both in Basalt and Carbondale, before retiring in 2019. Currently I teach GED classes at Colorado Mountain College.
My wife has also spent her career as an educator, and we have two daughters who graduated from the Carbondale schools and are this year a junior and senior in college.
My goals as a school board member are to represent the teachers’ perspective on what is needed in curriculum and development, to help retain, hire and pay teachers, to close the learning gap that exists in our schools, and to be a bridge between the community and the schools.
I believe my experiences as a teacher and a parent make me well suited for this position.
Christopher Becker has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley with his wife and three children for 10 years. He enjoys paddleboarding in the summer, skiing in the winter, and playing his vintage Les Paul all year long.
A 25-year career in luxury hospitality has given Chris the tools and connections to be a great RFSD board director. “Running a large, multi-faceted organization with several hundred employees — I’ve done this,” he says.
“Managing and hiring people in different departments while understanding their individual needs isn’t something you just hop into. It requires skill, experience and a thick skin. I believe our schools need that kind of experience to face the labor, retention and recruitment challenges defining our next few years.”
“This isn’t a job about politics, grandstanding or who yells the loudest. It’s about getting results for our kids and managing our resources intelligently. That’s what I’m here to do.”
My name is Steven Fotion. I am a father of 4 and a valley resident for over 30 years. I decided to run for the school board, Seat E, intent to make a difference by providing a conduit for communication between parents, students, teachers and the board.
I am a product of a public school, along with our three children who are graduates from Aspen High. Our youngest attended Basalt Middle and currently attends Cornerstone Christian. Being involved in a variety of local educational institutions makes me an excellent candidate for the school board. I will bring a fair, balanced and reasonable point of view and be a voice for the students and parents in this valley.
As a business owner, a nonprofit volunteer you will find my energy and enthusiasm endless. I am a fair voice of reason that takes all points of view into consideration.
For most of my adult life, I have worked in education in our valley as a teacher and an administrator. I have three children, the oldest a first grader at Basalt Elementary, and I own a preschool where I teach. My education includes an undergraduate degree with majors in Education Policy: Navigating the Public School System and Psychology, and a law degree with a focus on early childhood education. I’ve worked for the U.S. Department of Education, as a preschool special education teacher, and as an employment law attorney, which included advising schools. Throughout my life, education has been a guiding force. My husband and I returned to the valley seven years ago when I took on my current role. I have the ability and desire to do more for our district, and I see the school board as an ideal opportunity to do so.
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Students in the woods/construction classes at Basalt High School are getting hands-on experience by building a tiny home.