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I’ll help create a more responsive school board

Guest CommentaryBill LamontGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

We have many, many excellent teachers, principals and staff working very hard toward providing an outstanding education for our children. I am running because we must give those outstanding educators better support. It takes the full cooperation of parents, community and schools to meet the challenge of improving our children’s education in today’s world. The board, district and some schools have, over the past years, been slow to respond to valid concerns raised by teachers or parents. When a response is provided it often is too late to effectively address the initial concerns. This failure has led to an exodus of students from their local schools, and with it, the loss of district financing, many active, supportive parents and unfortunately, many excellent teachers. The district should not simply rely on staff to deal with responses to teacher or parent concerns. The board, in its role as the governing body, must be active not only in setting policy but assisting the staff in implementing those polices. The board is directly responsible to the voters, whereas the staff is not. As a bridge to the communities, board members can provide leadership in assuring everyone is heard and timely responses are delivered. In answer to the question of why the district does not respond more quickly to issues before it, an incumbent board member replied, “You don’t understand there is a process the board and district office follows.” This implies that process overrides timely solutions. I disagree with this thinking. Frustration grows as the board’s constituency feels it is not being heard. The board sets policy. If the process takes too much time the board should change it! After all, if your child is not receiving appropriate instruction in a given class, he or she should not lose an entire semester or year while the problem is fixed for next year’s student. Nor should it take years to replace a school’s leadership if that leadership has lost the trust of teachers and parents. Our children only go around once.Community relations and cooperation in Glenwood Springs, Basalt and Carbondale has not been what it should be. This is an area where board members must also take responsibility. For example, the dialogue between the district and Glenwood over expansion and condemnation of land for the high school left unnecessary scars. The district, as a leader in introducing standards based education, now knows that there are issues that must be resolved particularly at the high school level. Students cannot wait until next year or the year after that to fine tune the program.I have demonstrated a commitment to our schools, our children and our communities in a number of capacities: 1) in my work with the Garfield County Library board during the last five years helping to plan the conversion to a district and creating the funding for the libraries, 2) in the schools as a volunteer, 3) in the creation of Advocates for Carbondale Education (ACE), 4) in conducting annual parent and teacher surveys, 5) in organizing the annual teacher appreciation picnic, 6) on the building facility analysis committee for the school bond and 7) my work on Carbondale’s planning and finance study committees. My 42 years of professional planning experience working with and in local government has familiarized me with the types of issues facing the school district. I also learned the difference between board leadership and micro-management (the former produces results and the latter leads to dissension). During that time I have led staff, citizens, advisory boards and elected officials in the development of many strategic plans and their successful implementation.I am asking for your support and your vote to allow me to contribute to the district and help create a stronger, responsive board by assuring your voice as a parent, teacher or taxpayer is heard and respected. I will advocate for all children, work for all three communities and all our schools.Bill Lamont is running for the RFSD against incumbent Bruce Wampler.


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