Volunteers with "We Are RFSD" canvas for Ballot Initiative 5B to increase teacher and staff pay at local schools. Courtesy photo.

At an in-person meeting held at Carbondale District Office on Oct.13, the Roaring Fork School District (RFSD) Board of Education voted unanimously to support RFSD Ballot Issue 5B, a mill levy override, on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The mill levy override would increase pay for RFSD teachers and staff, with a portion allocated to the district’s retention and recruitment efforts. The RFSD board decision grants permission for the “We Are RFSD” campaign to use the district’s endorsement publicly.

In the public comment portion of the meeting, a handful of people addressed the board voicing their opposition to face mask and quarantine mandates, including one parent objecting to face mask requirements while playing sports.

Regular RFSD board meetings, which take place the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, have been rotating between in-person and online Zoom meetings.

RFSD Superintendent Rob Stein addressed the challenges of finding “a technological solution — to have interest in meetings, while we’re broadcasting and while we’re interpreting [into Spanish].”

Stein said, “We’re continuing to strive for a solution, but I am very concerned that it has to be a stable platform that’s reliable, and it doesn’t seem like we’ve yet found that. So, to be continued.” They will revisit ongoing meeting formats at their Oct. 27 board meeting.

District D representative Jasmin Ramirez presented a language access resolution.

She pointed out the disparities that Spanish-speaking parents encounter in actively participating in their children’s education due to a lack of a definitive language access plan. Developing a language access plan would ensure that the school district communicates effectively with families with limited English proficiency.

Ramirez said, “This is the reality that so many families in our district face, or have faced. Parents who so desperately want to advocate for their children and be engaged in their child’s education are not given the proper access or support they need. We fail our district families and students when we fail to recognize that language access is imperative to their success. It’s time to do the right thing for students and families.”

Ramirez reiterated that board members have had continued dialogue about equity challenges within the district. “Again, this is a conversation we’ve had. Even on equity, we have not come to an agreement; we have not created a resolution or a policy that says we support it. So, this is like moving the ball forward because, in my opinion, we drag our feet. And this is not something that we can be dragging our feet on. In fact, Latino families, and COVID[-impacted] families and all families that are diverse in our community are not living the same experience as everybody else’s privilege, including myself, in our district. And that’s where this urgency comes from.”

The language access resolution was added to the Oct. 27 meeting agenda for further input and discussion.

Before the board meeting, a school board candidate forum, co-hosted by the Roaring Fork Schools and Roaring Fork Community Education Association, was live-streamed on the GrassRoots Community Network’s YouTube channel. Cristal Logan from the Aspen Institute moderated the forum, which included school board candidates Chase McWhorter and Kenneth “Kenny” Teitler, who are vying for the District A seat, and Kathryn Kuhlenberg, who is running for the District E seat. Kuhlenberg’s opponent, Steven Fotion, was unable to attend.

The audio recording of the board meeting is available at: https://bit.ly/RFSDOct13

A video recording of the school board candidate forum is available at: https://bit.ly/RFSDOct13forum