District 38 school board election questionnaires


Editor's note: The article has been updated to include candidate Adam Cupp's responses to the questionnaire.

Three seats on the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 school board are up for general election Nov. 5.

Five school board candidates Matthew Clawson (candidate for Director District 5), Adam Cupp (candidate for Director District 5), Ryan Graham (candidate for Director District 4), Theresa Phillips (candidate for Director District 2), Ron Schwarz (candidate for Director District 4) are vying for three open seats on the district’s board of education.

Ron Schwarz and Adam Cupp were the only candidates to respond to a questionnaire sent by the Indy.
Ron Schwarz
  • Ron Schwarz

Ron Schwarz

Age: 58   

Occupation: Technology Executive (retired), Veterans Non Profit VP (VSAV),  Business Consultant

1. What relevant experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on the board of education?

I have a bachelor’s degree from the University of CA at Davis and have done post -graduate coursework at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, in finance.

My wife, Tamara, and I have lived in Monument for 27 years. Both of our children went through D38 from K-12. We logged 100’s of volunteer hours assisting teachers, students and administrators. One highlight was the 5 foreign exchange students we hosted from 2009 - 2014.  

I have 35 years of business experience and have led large teams with sizable budgets. Power listening and managing large budgets is an area where I can bring skills and lessons learned to the district.

Building teams and strategies that deliver lasting results is a core competency that I intend to bring to the team. 

My capacity to dive into the details and keep an "eye on the goals" is a unique skill I believe the board would welcome, especially given the complexities the board often encounters. 

Passion for student success is a key characteristic that I will bring to the board. Having no children or relatives in the district enables me to be 100% objective in reviewing projects, programs and policies.

2. What is your top priority or vision for the school district?

My vision is to unify the community to achieve three results:

  • That our students and graduates become positive contributors to their peers, communities and to our country. 
  • That they will be qualified to compete on the stage of their choice, act with integrity, a strong work ethic and respect for others.
  • That our District serves as “the” example of how to do it right, and how to make it last.

3. How would you achieve that?

I would strive to keep and evolve what is working, fix what is not.

I intend to engage the community in early education, vocational and life skills programs and to drive the faculty to work on un-locking our students passions/talents.

I intent to have the community pre-approve major spending measures based on the merits of the spend vs. the vehicle. Once this is agreed to, I intend to ask the community which spending method is the best fit for them/us, and to deliver it to them. 

Finally, I intend to work with the faculty to understand where its morale challenges lie, and what the origins are.  Once this is validated, I intend to deliver lasting resolutions so that we don’t fall back into the current scenario.

4. The district is endeavoring to get voter approval for a Bond (4A). If approved, how would you steward that funding to ensure budgets balance and the district won’t face layoffs or school closures?

The proposed District 38 measure is a single purpose lending vehicle. It is solely intended for the constructing and outfitting of an elementary school. This capital expenditure is independent of the District’s operating budget, which is currently balanced. 

5. School safety is a concern across the country, today. How do you propose ensuring students are safe and buildings are secure?

Student and faculty safety is NON-NEGOTIABLE nor is it open to compromise!

Physical security can be broken down into three (3) areas of focus:

Prevention: Human presence, Deterrence, Technology, Table top and full scale exercises

Response/Triage: Law Enf., Fire, ATF, FBI. Actions by those in the building and those outside

Remediation & Lessons Learned: Follow up to harden what may have been vulnerable, to generate new drills

My vision for safety is

  • to understand what the district has already done in these areas,
  • drill the prevention and response skills,
  • ensure the district is fully invested in the technologies, deterrence and best practices to avoid an event versus learn from one.

My philosophy is that a semester can always be made up but a long-term injury, or worse, cannot.

Adam Cupp
  • Adam Cupp

Adam Cupp

Age: 40

Occupation: Engineer & Project Manager

1. What relevant experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on the board of education?

My bachelor’s degree in Engineering provided me the technical skill set to understand complex issues, processes, and systems. Earning my Master of Business Administration amplified my aptitude in program management and has enabled me to be extremely successful working for a Defense Contractor supporting our armed forces cybersecurity protection.

I’ve been a resident of this district for the last 10 years. I have followed school board activities for years, as I wanted to have a positive impact in the community. I believe my unique skill-set as an engineer in long-term planning, project management, and cybersecurity can steer the district toward effective solutions, particularly in the area of balancing management of existing resources with growth in the community.

2. What is your top priority or vision for the school district?

District 38 is Accredited with Distinction as a top tier school system in the state.

Teachers I’ve spoken with tell me that parents who are engaged in their student’s education is the primary element of student success. We should continue to empower parents to engage with their children and teachers to ensure the continued success of our district. School Districts are similar to households in that they have to balance their checkbook. Every dollar we can get into the classroom is another opportunity to engage and enhance a students education.

3. How would you achieve that?

Partnering with parents and promoting open communication is the most effective way to ensure that schools meet the unique needs of students. Educating parents on available resources encourages families to express concerns or needs and to gain support. Ensuring the District hires and retains the best teachers is pivotal to our continued excellence. Several factors draw teachers to a district: positive School culture, student and parent engagement, Feeling of impact, and of course compensation. Culture in any organization starts at the top; the School Board and the Superintendent. I will engage with teachers and administrators to ensure that our teachers feel they have the support they need to be successful. We are fortunate to have very high student and teacher engagement in our school district, and I seek to ensure that we encourage parents to participate in all aspects of their child’s education. District 38 is in the top 20% of teachers pay in the state. We have other local school districts that are competitive, and even with this, we have comparatively very low teacher turnover. Teachers I’ve spoken with share that they are rewarded by a strong desire to learn from their students and appreciate working in a community with engaged parents.

4. The district is endeavoring to get voter approval for a mill levy override. If approved, how would you steward that funding to ensure budgets balance and the district won’t face layoffs or school closures?

I have publicly voiced my opposition to the 4A bond this year because of the financing structure that overspends taxpayer’s dollars by a minimum of $3.8M. Any waste of taxpayer dollars ending in M for Millions is too much. I want taxpayer to know that when the district asks for a new tax, every dollar possible will go toward supporting education directly, not into the pockets of a bond holder in interest.

I’m concerned that the 4A proposition does not properly plan for operational funding, which will have a detrimental impact on teacher hiring, retention, and pay. I want teachers compensated fairly for the value they provide. Opening an additional middle school without adequate enrollment to provide critical funding puts teachers and support staff at risk. I favor a well-rounded plan that considers every aspect of a successful expansion and growth. Current district enrollment numbers and immediate year over year predictions support my concern that we have inadequate enrollment to fully and appropriately support an additional middle school. This approach improves the likelihood that when a school district requests local funding, they’ll receive what they need.

5. School safety is a concern across the country, today. How do you propose ensuring students are safe and buildings are secure?

The schools primary purpose is to educate students, which should prepare them for real world successes in life. Students should enjoy an education safe from any distraction at their school including bullying and any other form of violence. Numerous forms of deterrents and response mechanisms exist to minimize impact to students. However, this is a complex problem which cannot be simply addressed through security measures, but should also strive to support parents who are often in the best position to assist struggling children.

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