Educate yourself on school board choices

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Dear Editor,
To the Ridgway Community: Many of you attended the WISE School Board Candidate Forum on Oct. 7 as I did. For those of you who didn’t, I wanted to share some examples of two candidates’ responses on a few issues:
Students First
Steve Larivee, current board member, is running for another term. Mr. Larivee does not have any personal agenda other than volunteering his time, energy and nearly 40 years of K-12 education experience to benefit the students of Ridgway Schools. Steve’s responses to the questions from the audience demonstrated that he puts kids first every time. He emphasized his strong conviction when he said, “The students come first, they come second, they come third.”
It has been my experience that this is THE critical position that defines an effective school board member. A school board member or candidate who holds this tenet above all others is the individual who will be strong enough to make decisions that will not please all the adults involved but will be what is best for all students.
Bart Skalla, current board member, is running for another term. Mr. Skalla’s responses reflected his thoughts on past mistakes that the board and superintendent have made. He did not articulate that his highest purpose in serving on the board was to do what is best for all students.
Implementation of SB 191
Steve Larivee clearly demonstrated that he understands the increased responsibilities for our district administrators with the full implementation of SB 191, which revamps the evaluation process for Colorado’s educators. Steve referred to the full implementation of SB 191 several times throughout the night, conveying his understanding of the law and how it will affect our district’s students, teachers and administrators.
Bart Skalla does not seem to grasp the additional requirements necessary for full implementation of SB 191. This is evidenced by his desire to eliminate the Superintendent position. It would be irresponsible to ask our principals to shoulder the increased responsibilities required by SB 191 while at the same time performing the many responsibilities of the district superintendent. In my opinion this would deeply compromise the academic growth and achievement of our students.
Confidentiality
Bart Skalla’s answer to a question regarding confidentiality and personnel matters was troubling:  “This is a small town, people talk, stuff gets out.”
Steve Larivee responded that he was disturbed by Bart’s statement and that confidentiality in personnel matters is never an area which can be compromised — small town or not.
I had the opportunity to work with both Mr. Larivee and Mr. Skalla while I was serving on the Ridgway Board of Education. I urge you to educate yourself regarding the approaches of the various school board candidates, learn where they stand on current issues and vote for the candidates who best demonstrate the desire and ability to, above all, serve the best interest of the students of Ridgway.

Kara L. Mueller
Former Ridgway School Board Member