School board candidates face off
Forum lets voters take measure of competitors
Jim Mimiaga/Dolores Star
Five candidates are running for two open seats on the Dolores school board. They are Rick Carpenter, Dan Jones, Stan Mannis, Joye McHenry, and Linnea Vass.
Matt Mecham is also on the ballot, but he has moved from the area, and he is no longer a candidate.
During a forum last week candidates answered questions submitted by audience members, teachers, and reporters. Here is a sample of some of the responses from the three-hour event held at the Dolores Community Center and hosted by the Dolores Education Association.
Carpenter is a retired Lt. Colonel in the Air Force.
"I feel our children are our most important asset for our future. As a board and community, we must learn how to get along because student education is the priority," he said.
McHenry, who works for the Cortez Recreation Center, said she will focus on improving communication between the board and the community. She says making sure the school construction project goes well is a priority for her as well as school academics.
"I want the Dolores schools to regain their accreditation with distinction level; I want us to be what we used to be," McHenry said.
Linnea Vass, owner/operator of the Dolores Food Market, is a current board member and feels her experience learning the different aspects of school management makes here a good candidate.
"It takes time to get up to speed. I've learned a lot and understand how it works, where we need improvement, and what it takes to solve problems," she said. "Improving technology training for our kids will help them get into college and the military."
Jones, a employee of the Cortez Recreation Center, wants to help students who don't necessary excel well and don't test well.
"I think it is important to help students who are struggling in reading, math. Those who are slower are depending on us for extra help," he said.
Mannis, a supervisor for Kinder Morgan, said he saw a lack of cooperation between the board and the community at meetings he regularly attended.
"Last year, we had some issues, and I feel I can help work through communication problems and help to guide us through the construction project," he said. "We need to address small issues early so they don't boil over and become distractions."
Open communication between the board and the community was a theme.
"The school board should represent community wishes," Mannis said.
"It should be open and honest. Listen and act, and know it's not always the solution people want," said Jones.
Added Vass, "Dialogue needs to be respectful. I'm just one board member out of five, so as a board we need to work issues out together."
ON THE ARTS
Carpenter: It's important for a well-rounded student, and well-rounded adult.
Vass: The district should not cut the arts, PE, or music. The district must continue to find money where it can.
McHenry: The school board should look toward the superintendent for guidance on the needs for the schools. Art is important. The school board is not 100 percent in control of the curriculum.
Mannis: He noted his children are all in band, and he will fight to keep the music program.
Carpenter: The district should focus on finding teachers who want to live in a rural area.
Vass: The district should keep salaries and benefits in line with other districts.
All but one candidate felt every student should be on a college track.
"I hate to disagree with my peers, but society needs good mechanics, carpenters, and plumbers as well," said Carpenter.
McHenry: The tests do not measure a student's overall abilities and such things as good attendance, and participation in school events and programs.
Mannis: Agreed with McHenry, and he added some students test well and some don't, but it doesn't mean the teacher is doing a bad job.
Jones: Too much emphasis is put on the state tests. He said low scores may just be a bad day for student.
"It is unfair that they reflect badly on teachers who are otherwise effectively teaching a student to succeed and learn," he said.
Vass: More tutoring opportunities are needed for students who are struggling. "Identifying those who need help early, and then giving extra help after school is key," she said.
Regarding emotionally disabled kids, the candidates all support assistance programs.
"Handicap want to participate with the group. They should not be put aside to be by themselves," Jones said.
Carpenter raised a handicap child, and he said it is important for the parents of disabled kids closely work with the teachers on their progress and situations.
"They need to interact with the class, but they should not be too much of a distraction either and disrupt the other children's education," he said.
Regarding Amendment 66, a state ballot question to increase taxes for education. Jones and McHenry said they did not support it. The other three candidates support the measure.