The Sopris Sun is publishing responses to questions posed to candidates running for the Roaring Fork School District (RFSD) Board of Education. This is our final installment of candidate questionnaires. Moving forward, The Sun will be covering candidate forums.
Phillip Bogart and Lindsay DeFrates are candidates in District C, which encompasses the south and east sections of Glenwood Springs, Spring Valley and western Missouri Heights.
Background and Motivation:
I’ve called this valley home for 18 years, dedicating six of them to teaching at Carbondale Middle School. My passion for our schools, educators and invaluable support staff runs deep. As a mother to three children currently thriving at Sopris Elementary School, I’m invested in the future of our school district. As your representative, I will commit to fostering transparency between the Board of Education and the community, ensuring equity in student achievement and enacting teacher retention strategies.
As a seasoned educator and a parent navigating the challenges of this valley, I know what it will take to be in this position for the long haul. I am running because I believe it is the best way to serve the community I love.
Educational Vision and Priorities:
My top educational priority is to focus on student achievement by keeping qualified and experienced teachers in every classroom. I plan to attract and retain qualified teachers by doing the following:
– Filling support staff positions, including substitute teachers and paraprofessionals, as well as transportation, nutrition and building maintenance staff. Teachers who do not have to play 10 different roles a day can focus on rigorous and differentiated lesson plans and supporting students’ learning.
– Increasing opportunities for teacher and staff housing. Many different organizations are already seeking creative solutions for workforce housing that do not depend solely on building more units. The Roaring Fork School District needs to actively engage with these endeavors.
– Respecting teachers as professionals in their own classrooms and offering them a voice in any decisions that will directly impact their working conditions and the expectations for their position. Feeling valued and secure will help teachers see the RFSD as a positive place to work.
As a former teacher with a degree in Secondary Education, I will also evaluate any curriculum and classroom materials adoption with a critical eye. We need to work harder to improve student achievement by having curriculum resources that align with state standards, build on educational best practices and, most importantly, challenge our students to be active learners in a quickly changing world.
Budget and Fiscal Responsibility:
The operating budget of the school district must provide equitable access to high-quality education for all students, and it must do this in an open and transparent manner. The voters of the Valley have repeatedly demonstrated their support for, and belief in, the value of public education through the passage of a mill levy override for teacher salaries and bond issues for capital and building improvements. As a school board member, I take that trust very seriously, and I recognize that as a board, we must make responsible financial choices that best reflect the values of the community we serve.
Community Engagement and Communication:
One of the first things you learn as a teacher is that just because you said something doesn’t mean anyone heard you. While some strides have been made in the district, we acknowledge room for improvement. Drawing on my experience as deputy director of public relations at the Colorado River District, I’ll assess existing strategies and outreach platforms. We need to make sure that all voices are heard and that any actions taken by the board are done in full view of the community we serve.
Equity and Inclusion:
Recent assessments reveal a widening achievement gap between our white and Latino students post-pandemic. This trend is unacceptable. Equity means providing timely access to essential resources for all. While advancing accessibility to early childhood education is pivotal, I will also assess strategies for reaching students currently in middle and high school. No one should slip through the cracks; the system demands our attention. Drawing from successful models in similar districts and consulting experts, I am committed to finding solutions.
Superintendent Accountability, Evaluation and Housing:
I believe that our district needs clear and decisive leadership, which values being a part of the community they serve. Most parents and families who live here face daily struggles when it comes to the cost of living, housing availability and support for their families. As a school district, we must have leadership that understands the complexities of these realities. I appreciate the extensive work of the volunteer task force on the issue of superintendent housing. I support either the first or second option proposed by the task force: to buy or build a home rented to the superintendent in correspondence with staff housing guidelines but whose ownership remains with RFSD.