Four candidates are running for two school board seats in still-growing Falcon School District 49.
Incumbents Dave Martin (board president) and Randall Brungardt (treasurer) face competition from the Rev. Promise Lee and Kent Clawson.
Martin declined to speak to the Independent, but the other three candidates explained how they want to see this district of 11,000 students work.
They agree on:
Developer contributions to new schools
Developers have helped pay to build some new schools in D-49, and Clawson, Brungardt and Lee (who answered questions via e-mail) say they should continue to do so, because the situation is mutually beneficial.
D-49 currently gives parents a chance to enroll their child in a choice school via a lottery system. Clawson, Brungardt and Lee say that's a good thing, and they want to see choice expanded.
New programs, like International Baccalaureate
All three say IB is worth the money.
They disagree (at least slightly) on:
Growth has slowed in the district, but is still expected to be a challenge in the future.
Clawson says increasing the number of charter schools could mean not needing to pass a bond issue to build new schools. (Passing bonds has proven difficult for D-49 in the past.)
Lee and Brungardt say growth is under control for now, but new schools will be needed in the future. Brungardt points out that means another bond issue.
Brungardt says charter schools may ease overcrowding, but he's generally not a fan. "I will only support them if they are actually following the guidelines that are set by the state," he says.
Lee wrote, "When done right, charter schools can be an asset to the district, not a competitor or a liability."
Clawson is pro-charter.
Lee says vouchers are appropriate when schools don't perform up to par: "Resources should be attached to the student, not to a particular school system."
Clawson cites overcrowding when he says, "Vouchers are definitely a tool I want in my toolbox."
Meanwhile, Brungardt gives vouchers two thumbs way down.
"Vouchers take away funds from the public schools," he says.
The role of C-SAP
D-49 has tests that better measure student progress than C-SAP, Clawson says. Those can help teachers increase student achievement. It's time to take the emphasis off C-SAP, he says.
Brungardt thinks C-SAP is an ineffective tool and a big stress on teachers who end up "teaching to the test." He calls the test "detrimental to the entire school systems."
Lee says C-SAP may not be perfect, but as the statewide standard, it at least promotes accountability and measures student progress.
Boosting student achievement
Clawson says it's time to "stop focusing on the bottom" and beef up gifted and talented programs. He thinks a lot of kids drop out because they aren't challenged.
Lee says teaching character-building and communication skills will help students achieve more in their lives.
Brungardt says it's about paying great teachers well, and challenging kids with curricula such as a math program the board hopes to implement next year.
Other big goals
The issues each raised on his own:
Brungardt says he'll support teachers and staff.
Lee says he'll bring diversity to the board while focusing on student achievement, communication, growth and providing needed resources.
Clawson says focusing on growth means looking at alternatives when building schools. Maybe schools should be built to last just 20 years, saving the district money and allowing it to build schools in different areas as neighborhoods grow and move.
Work: Assistant director for facilities service, environmental health and safety at Colorado College.
Children: Four children; two daughters in District 49 schools; one at Rocky Mountain Classical Academy, the other at Odyssey Elementary.
District activities: Chair of Long-Range Planning Committee; active in board issues; ran for the board in 2006.
Work: Pastoral associate and director of religious education at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Colorado Springs.
Children: Five children (four students in D-49, one too young for school).
District activities: Treasurer of the D-49 board of education since September 2006.
District activities: Current president of the D -49 board. (Did not respond to request for information.)
Work: Pastor of Relevant Word Ministries in Colorado Springs.
Children: Three of 12 children attend D-49 schools.
District activities: Part of an unofficial group of D-49 parents that addresses parent-student concerns; attendee at school board presentations.