Kathryn Kuhlenberg elected Roaring Fork School District board president | AspenTimes.com

Kathryn Kuhlenberg elected Roaring Fork School District board president

Jasmin Ramirez elected Board of Education vice president, former president Natalie Torres named secretary/treasurer

Roaring Fork School District Board of Education candidate Kathryn Kuhlenberg speaks at a forum in the Carbondale district office Oct. 16.
Rich Allen/Post Independent

No more than 20 minutes after Kathryn Kuhlenberg was sworn in Monday as an official member of the Roaring Fork School District Board of Education she was unanimously named its president.

In a 5-0 vote and as the only nominee, Kuhlenberg took the leadership position of the board in a special meeting held via Zoom. She replaces District B representative Natalie Torres, who nominated Kuhlenberg for the role.

“I was happy to say, ‘You know that might be a really good fit,’” Torres said. “It wasn’t so much that I was not wanting to throw my hat into the ring but rather I thought she would do a really good job.”

Kuhlenberg assumed presidential responsibilities following the vote, organizing the elections for vice president and secretary/treasurer.

She became the board’s third president in as many years after Torres took the position in December 2020 after a three-year tenure by Jen Rupert.

Kuhlenberg garnered around 80% of the vote in the Nov. 2 election over Steven Fotion to win the District E seat vacated by Jennifer Scherer. Kuhlenberg is the owner and director of Playgroup Aspen and holds degrees in education policy and child psychology, along with a law degree.

“I’m encouraged by the support of the board and I’m ready to go for it,” Kuhlenberg said. “A big part of it is just the general dedication that’s part of the position and the willingness to put in a lot of work in a volunteer role.”

Torres sought the board vice presidency along with District D representative Jasmin Ramirez, but lost after Ramirez garnered enough votes for a majority before votes for Torres were called.

Ramirez received votes from herself, Kuhlenberg and the other newly elected board member, District A representative Kenny Teitler.

“I wear so many hats in the community already and so I just wanted to find the best way to not only support the president as we move forward, but also to make sure I was still in a role that was able to help in any way possible,” Ramirez said.

Roaring Fork School District board member Jasmin Ramirez speaks at a meeting in the Carbondale district office Oct. 16.
Rich Allen/Post Independent

Torres fell into the secretary/treasurer role — Ramirez’s previous position — virtually by default. When no nominees were presented for the position, District C representative Maureen Stepp declined the role, citing other issues on her plate. After a brief conversation about the role’s duties, Teitler offered to take the position if Torres didn’t want it.

“I am still a part of the team and a board member,” Torres said. “The role may change but I told Kathryn that I’d be there to support or lend advice or whatever she may need to be successful.”

With the new board alignment completed, Kuhlenberg has sights set on improving policies and community communication.

“Some of the things I want to continue right away are increasing our parent presence in terms of establishing and developing a more robust District Accountability Committee and really working to build those up and secure some more commitment from parents in the community so we can open those lines of communication between the schools and the board,” Kuhlenberg said.

Being a rookie board member, Kuhlenberg said that there will be some more work up front but isn’t concerned that her inexperience will be an issue.

“It’s going to take a bit more than if I had been on the board for a couple years, but I have no doubt that I will be able to do that research and figure out exactly what our role is, what my role is, and jump in,” Kuhlenberg said.

Reporter Rich Allen can be reached at 970-384-9131 or rallen@postindependent.com.

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