Guest commentary: BOE candidate’s platform includes stability, community and building bridges
I am running for the Aspen School District Board of Education as both an involved community member and parent of three kids who went K-12 through the Aspen schools. My wife, Robin, and I have been rooted in this community for 28 years. We were involved in our kids’ classes, Outdoor-Education experiences and Project Graduations. Since they graduated, I’ve stayed involved by serving on the District Accountability Committee and the middle school principal search committee. In 2020, I served as co-chair of the “Funding our Future” campaign, securing $94 million-plus in bonds and renewed taxes. My candidacy is endorsed by the Aspen Education Association (teacher’s union), and I have a broad base of support.
What has impressed me most about our kids’ education is not the IB diplomas, college opportunities or various accomplishments. It is the fact that my kids are products of a school system that taught them to think critically and become their own unique citizens in this world; skills that they are now applying to their professions and lives. I am running for the BOE with gratitude for the exceptional quality of education our kids received.
This campaign is about leadership and the tone the BOE sets for the district and the community. I will lead by creating stability, building bridges and restoring community.
Creating stability: Our kids and staff need stability. Administrative turnover over the past five years and COVID have brought upheaval. I’ll work at ushering in a period of stability for staff and students by giving the administration time to implement their goals; creating better systems of support for teachers, including housing; and overseeing curricula alignment between the schools through the IB framework. By creating stability, the board can foster an environment that trusts our administration and teachers to equip our students to excel.
Building bridges: I am a collaborative problem-solver. Decisions must include all stakeholders in our community. Many challenges in our schools are familiar to Aspen: emotional/mental health; huge gaps in resources; self-medication and substance use. These need to be tackled in partnership with and collaboration between the schools and our governments, nonprofits and faith communities to help our kids thrive. As BOE member, I will listen, ask questions, find a collective solution and then give direction. We have the resources to work together to build infrastructure where kids leave prepared for whatever awaits them in the future.
Restoring community: I love how our community always rallies around our schools. However, we have divisions on how best to do that. I will work at ways to restore our sense of community and shared values for our schools. As a BOE member, I will work to foster open avenues of communication between the board, teachers, administration and community. We need to compromise to restore the district’s culture to be one where people want to work and are empowered to do what they do best.
Two years ago, the campaign was a referendum on the past administration. Now, it’s a referendum on the future. As we emerge from the pandemic, our town’s demographics are changing. New parents bring good ideas and I will listen. However, we can’t lose our sense of place. Our mountain environment informs our kids’ education. ASD is doing many things very well. Let’s build on our strengths in partnership with our community. I want excellence in academics, but more than that I want our schools to give all kids the tools to develop their unique skills and passions. By creating stability, building bridges and restoring community, we can provide a place for all students to grow as thinkers, dreamers, innovators and world changers.
Editor’s note: There are six candidates running for three open seats on the Aspen Board of Education. The Aspen Times has offered each candidate a guest column of 600 words or less. The election is Nov. 2; ballots were mailed out Oct. 8.
For the last 35 years I’ve been covering what we call the “salmon wars” in the Pacific Northwest, writing so many stories about salmon heading toward extinction that I’ve lost count.
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