Five candidates to vie for 3 open Aspen Board of Education seats

Three incumbents on the Aspen School District Board of Education will be defending their open seats against two challengers in the November election.

Friday was the deadline for candidates to submit their nomination petitions with the school district.

Incumbents up for re-election are Susan Marolt, the board’s assistant secretary and treasurer; Dwayne Romero, treasurer; and Margeaux Johansson, secretary.

Neither Johansson or Romero were elected to the board by district voters. The school board appointed Johansson in January 2016; Romero was appointed in June 2016 after the midterm resignation of Bob Glah.

Challenging the trio of incumbents are two members of the School District’s District Accountability Committee: Jonathan Nickell and Susan Zimet.

Some potential campaign issues surfaced last week at a meeting among members of both the School Board and District Accountability Committee, which is a 10-member advisory organization to the board.

Among them were Zimet’s contention that Aspen High School isn’t prepping students well enough for the academic demands of college.

“Too many kids feel they are not prepared when they get to college for certain subjects,” Zimet said, adding that “I want to make sure there are no gaps in our curriculum so our kids can succeed in life to the best of their abilities.”

The chief focus of the Aug. 29 meeting, however, was on bridging the festering communications divide between the School Board and District Accountability Committee.

Members of both groups discussed ways they can better collaborate, set goals and discuss issues of the day. One concern of the District Accountability Committee, whether real or perceived, also is that the both the School Board and School District don’t value input from parents.

Not all participants were pleased that was the emphasis of the meeting, which will be continued at a later date and address school policy-making.

“The (District Accountability Committee) is a really important vehicle for the community, teachers and parents, and I hope it gets utilized more,” said Anna Zane, the committee’s president. “But I’m not excited about being in a three-hour meeting talking about emotions. I’m more of a doer with all we have on our plate.”

Likewise, candidate Nickell wondered aloud the purpose of the meeting.

“I will share some of Anna’s initial skepticism of what we’re dedicated to,” he said. “We all want to work on improving the school. It’s not about where people are right or wrong, it’s how we can make things better.”

At the meeting’s end, however, most participants felt more ground was gained than they initially believed.