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2015 PSD Board Election Questionnaire

As PSD has grown, we have seen school of choice has become limited at many sites. How do
you preserve that choice in a climate thats made it difficult to support it?
- Weve heard from some parents the district doesnt advertise the limited availability well
enough; theres not actually choice.
School of choice is a Colorado law and PSDs current procedures comply with that law. I believe
that the district should support the schools and hold them accountable for complying with those
procedures within the context of a clear, publicly known building capacity. I understand that
there are subtleties in this process, such as being at capacity at one grade but not at another,
etc. However, given the popularity of some of our schools, transparency is critical to maintaining
public trust. Also, passing a bond to build new schools is integral to continuing to provide choice
to our parents and students since it will provide additional capacity and reduce overcrowding in
schools which cannot currently admit students through school of choice. Choice can present
challenges for any neighborhood school that, for whatever reason, is a net donor of students.
The district should work proactively with all schools to ensure that they do offer and are seen to
offer excellent educational opportunities and therefore do not suffer a downward spiral of low
enrollment. In understanding the choice dynamics and net donor schools, it would be very
helpful to survey parents who choice students out of a school (or into a school) and learn why
they are doing so.
The district has a long-term plan to deal with growth in the district. However, new schools are
years away. How do you deal with that growth today? Modular units? Later start times?
The district is currently using additional modular buildings, minor changes in boundaries,
increasing capacity in schools through minor construction, and shifting of district programs to
less crowded schools. I believe these are reasonable and adequate steps and I do not support
more radical steps like bussing and split shifts as long as a bond for school construction passes
in 2016. Introduction of more paraprofessionals to help address high capacity, crowded
classrooms and perhaps other creative solutions such as co-teaching larger classes may need
to be explored.
However, if a 2016 bond does not pass then PSD will need to look at many more critical
changes to the school system. These changes could involve bussing, significant and more
frequent boundary changes as housing development occurs and the student population needs
to be balanced out, and potentially, in the longer term, split shifts at schools. I have advocated
for and PSD is pursuing a strategic Plan B in case the bond does not pass. This plan needs to
be made clear to the public as soon as possible.
The school district will soon put a bond to the general public to pay for construction of several
new schools and needs at others existing. Does it go far enough? How will you sell the
hundreds of millions of dollars to those who dont have kids in the system?
The question of whether it goes far enough is a balancing act between what the public is willing
to support and the ideal educational environment we would like to provide our students. I am
actively involved in the Community Facilities Advisory Committee and have attended many
public meetings on this topic to hear the parent and community input. PSD must continue to

make clear the need for additional seats based on demographic projections and the growth that
we all see and feel. The need for an additional athletic complex follows from the addition of two
high schools assuming that the public understands and supports the value of athletics to our
students. Repairs and maintenance at existing schools are not as glamorous or transparently
clear to the public but are necessary for safety and to maintain the investment in our
There are items which might help create an ideal education environment for which the public is
likely unwilling to pay. The most obvious is air-conditioning for some of the older schools. Why
might the public be unwilling to pay for this? Air conditioning is used on average about 18-21
days in those schools that have it. It will cost $84 million to air-condition all the schools that
dont have it and even more to operate it out of general funds. In addition, some schools would
need to be closed for 9 months to install it generating displaced students with no place to put
them. The district is looking at and installing other creative solutions for hot schools and, based
on my conversations with staff and parents in the buildings, some are finding success.
The bottom line is that the current bond (and possible accompanying mill levy) proposal from
the district is a reasonable plan based on the most currently available information. Having said
that, the district continues to refine its information and collect input from the community (which is
a critical part of the process). As that data comes in, my thinking on this may evolve.
Since over 70% of voters do not have children in the schools, it is critical to engage the whole
community in discussions about the need for the bond and the value it will provide to the
community. The key points to be made are:
1) A strong school district with successful schools is one of the leading factors in a communitys
economic health and vitality.
2) Well-educated students make better employees.
3) The students in the school district will be the adult citizens and leaders of tomorrow, here and
in the nation at large. We need them to be well educated to be successful.
4) This community is historically a strong supporter of K-12 education. We need to continue to
invest to maintain the value of the infrastructure we have created.
5) PSD is an excellent steward of taxpayer monies and needs to continue to advertise this fact
and be financially transparent. Moreover, demonstrating solid inter-governmental relationships
regarding growth and development in the cities of Fort Collins, Wellington, Timnath, and
Windsor and with Larimer County is essential in maintaining the publics support for bonds and
tax revenue for schools.
6) For older adults with grandchildren, schools are needed so the grandchildren can have an
excellent educational experience as well.
As a member of the Community Facilities Advisory Committee for the upcoming bond and as a
continuing member of the 2010 Mill Levy/Bond committee, I have been a strong advocate for
and active participant in community engagement sessions. For example, I have educated
community members about and advocated for the mill and bond with realtors, rotary club
members, chamber members, and elected officials as well as other citizens. As a parent whose
children attended all three levels in PSD and experienced many of the issues addressed by
mill/bond levies (large class sizes, not enough money for art, music, PE, etc.), I have seen
firsthand the impact of an underfunded education system and consequently have been a tireless
advocate for securing local support for schools.

Whats the top priority/goal for you as you consider taking a seat on PSDs school board in the
4-year term to come?
Accommodating growth through the passage of a bond and construction of schools is the most
obvious priority. I believe I have discussed that adequately above. Beyond that:
My vision is that each student is able to reach his/her full potential and graduate to a successful
life and career.
At the board level, the highest priority in accomplishing that vision is to work with the
administration to ensure the successful implementation of the district ends
( The district ends
encompass a broad view of what it means to be a successful student and graduate. PSD is in
the process of defining metrics to measure progress on these ends. Given the subjective nature
of some of the ends and the need not to overwhelm the system with measures, it will be critical
to work closely with the administration in defining, monitoring, and evolving those metrics. In my
13+ years of volunteer experience working with the PSD administration, I have asked
challenging and insightful questions on a wide variety of topics and will continue to do so on the
ends (and other matters) as a member of the Board of Education.

What does student success look like to you at the conclusion of a students senior year in high
One summary of success is encompassed in the ends statements adopted by the Board of
Education. I believe they are well stated and comprehensive.
If I were to sum it up in my own words however, each graduate should have:
1) a sense of direction, grounded in the academic, extracurricular, and other life experiences
that he/she has had to date. Hopefully, this will have been reinforced through hands-on learning
and/or internships as well as a meaningful connection to at least one adult in each school.
Ideally, each graduate will have identified a passion by the end of high school that he/she wants
to pursue going forward.
2) the ability and desire to continue learning and growing throughout life. This is critical
because most graduates will go through multiple careers and the world is changing quickly.
Adults need to grow and adapt continually to be successful and stay that way.
3) the background knowledge, desire, and ability to be active participants in our democracy and
civic life.
4) demonstrated growth and success in PK-12 education so he/she has the skills and abilities to
support him/herself in whatever he/she chooses to do next.
5) the work habits to be successful.
6) the ability to work and interact successfully with people of all cultures, beliefs, races, etc.
7) the knowledge and behaviors to support a healthy lifestyle.
8) self-confidence (but not arrogance).
9) an appreciation for the diversity of the world and our place in it.
10) a place to go next (college, workforce, armed forces, a goal oriented gap year, etc.).
What can you do as a board member to evaluate and improve on the number and time
spent on mandatory testing?

1) Listen to educators, parents, and students to understand their perceptions of what is

happening around testing.
2) Request regular updates from PSD administration on the amount of testing actually going on,
why tests are being given, how much time is being spent on testing, what the results are being
used for, and what the unintended consequences are.
3) Direct the administration to eliminate low value testing and reduce the amount of other testing
that is in PSDs control.
4) Keep abreast through reading journals, blogs, etc., following state and federal legislation, and
communicating with other districts around the state and nation on what is happening with testing
and test related matters.
5) Establish and maintain strong relationships with legislators and other educational officials at
the state and federal level so we are in a good position to lobby with and advise them on testing,
negative, unintended consequences, and other educational matters.
6) Be strong participants in CASB and other educational advocacy organizations so we have a
strong position to advocate on testing and other educational matters.
7) Taking into account all the above, work with the administration to develop a PSD view on
testing to be used in advocacy with the legislators, educational officials, and educational
advocacy organizations.
8) Advocate with those state and federal officials to bring down the amount of testing and the
amount of calendar time it takes and to ensure that the results are useful and timely to students,
parents, teachers, schools, districts, and taxpayers.
Bottom line: listen, learn, think, and proactively advocate.

What will you do to engage the significant block of the public that doesnt have kids in school in
this election?
Engaging the public without children in school means 2 things:
1) Helping all residents understand the importance of the schools and district to the
communities in which we live. This encompasses very much the same items that I covered
above under helping the community understand the importance of passing the bond. Strong
schools make strong communities.
2) Connecting with people throughout the community and talking about educational issues. I
have done a lot of this:
a) walking neighborhoods,
b) using Facebook and twitter and email,
c) attending meetings of Rotary, Realtors, seniors, etc.,
d) reaching out to elected community leaders including the city council members and
mayor of Fort Collins, the town trustees in Wellington, and the town council in Timnath as well
as the state elected officials for our area,
e) attending community events and talking with people there.
Its also interesting to note that while assumptions are made about older voters being disinterested in school board elections, quite the contrary seems evident as we look at who attends
candidate forums, town halls, etc. One of the challenges is helping all voters, even those with
children in schools, understand the role of a board of education and its relationship to schools,
parents, teachers, and ultimately students.

Should PSD work toward free all-day kindergarten for all?

Yes, this should be an option for all students. Early education has been shown to greatly
improve later academic and social success.
Our ability to do this has at least two key components: space and funding. Additional space is
needed to accommodate serving more kindergarten students all day. PSD should have the
information on how many more classrooms this would require and take this into consideration
as it calculates capacities in the context of bond measures and school of choice. Using all the
tools of advocacy described under the testing answer above, we should be working to get the
funding needed to support full-day kindergarten. It is also reasonable to consider a mill levy to
support the needed funding, but that is dependent on the willingness of our PSD communities to
accept higher taxes. I would not propose pushing such a mill levy at this time given the urgent
need to build new schools for the students we already need to serve.
Ultimately, the funding and capacity issues need to be considered in parallel, as one is
dependent on the other. Consequently, careful evaluation of progress on both fronts is required.
Should PSD consider a year-round school calendar?
A year-round calendar has several benefits, the most important of which is the reduction in the
summer slide wherein many students regress in their learning and skills over the long summer.
Additionally, eliminating 12 week-long summers has proven to be most advantageous to low
income students and is a strategy for closing the achievement gap which is a priority. Such a
calendar would also allow more efficient use of some of our buildings (at least those which are
On the downside, not all schools are air-conditioned so we would need to air-condition more
schools or only provide this option in some schools. There is also a perception that the
community generally wants to follow the CSU calendar. Coordination with child care providers
might be more difficult. Interscholastic athletic and other competitions would need to be
accommodated. The contracts with the staff would need to be amended to accommodate an
extended school calendar. However, other successful districts in the state have overcome
these problems and successfully implemented year round schooling.
Bottom line, I do think it would be desirable to further investigate the benefits and limitations of
year-round schooling and, based on this information, dialog with educators, parents, students,
and the community to determine whether they would be supportive. In addition, I believe we
could potentially use the concept of school choice and site based management to pilot this
concept at one or two schools and complete an extensive evaluation of its effectiveness to
determine whether expanding year-round schooling to a district practice is warranted. Having
said that, I would only advocate for this investigation and dialog after the 2016 bond election
(assuming it is successful). There are only so many issues that the district and the community
can assimilate at one time. The bond needs to pass first so PSD can accommodate the
projected growth in numbers of students in Fort Collins and surrounding areas. By staying
focused on key priorities, I am confident PSD will be able to address myriad opportunities for

improving educational opportunities for students. I believe my skills and knowledge as a parent
and community member will be a valuable addition to the PSD Board of Education in facilitating
these conversations and decisions.