Aspen School Board candidates see room for improvement | AspenTimes.com

Aspen School Board candidates see room for improvement

Aspen Journalism

Editor's note: Aspen Journalism and The Aspen Times have asked the five candidates for the Aspen School District Board of Education to answer five questions leading up to the election. We are publishing their answers to each question over five days. The five candidates are vying for two four-year seats. The newly elected board will then appoint a third two-year seat after the election.

Q: Aspen School District is known as a high-performing district, but are there areas — academic or otherwise — where you'd like to pursue improvements or changes?

LEE MULCAHY

1) I strongly believe we must find more innovative ways for the administration to listen to both parents and teachers in the educational process. Despite recent pleas from both rabbis, the superintendent honored Jewish families (nearly 25 percent of our community) by scheduling experiential education over the holiest of holidays, Yom Kippur. 2) Less standardized testing. 3) We need more advanced honors classes for the middle school, more vocational training and a greater focus on the Bill of Rights. 4) No more secret grade changes. 5) Transparency.

SANDRA PEIRCE

Two years ago, the board determined the world-languages program was not serving our students adequately. The board invested considerable time and effort to develop policy that clearly communicated our desired results. These policy changes led to the development of a stronger and better aligned foreign-language program. Our next priority should be to take a focused look at our mathematics program. Interviewing our high school alumni, we consistently hear that math is the area in which they feel the least prepared. It is time for the board to expend time and effort to develop policy around mathematics, which will again communicate the results we wish for our students.

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MARY HOUCHIN

As a Coherent Governance Board member, reviewing recent data and results of the students' achievement would determine academic needs going forth. Results will address the specific areas of change and improvements, with continued forward momentum in math, literacy, science, advanced technology and the importance of the arts.

I am a strong supporter of the threefold nature, nurturing the union of the whole person mind, body and spirit.

Academics are very important but need to be extended to settings beyond the classroom. Relationships with others, empathy, compassion, positive attitude, service to others, self-esteem and self-growth all develop individual successes.

SHEILA WILLS

Even high-performing school districts have room to improve. I am most interested in successfully implementing the long-term financial plan, continuing the quest for improved student achievement in mathematics, fine tuning the direction of the world-language program and further defining the organizational culture of the district. I would also like to investigate how the district might use technology to better meet the needs of our students through broadened program offerings and added schedule flexibility.

MARGEAUX JOHANSSON

Aspen high school graduates are increasingly struggling to compete in their college-level math and science classes. Math and science are fundamental building blocks for students achieving academic success at the college level and to build careers for the future. We can, and must, do better. For instance, we need to further develop our curriculum to allow for a broader range of rigorous online course options and academic support, which is essential to more efficiently utilize the academic and facility resources of the school district.

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