RE-2 School Board Candidates Meet in Issues Forum

Alan Medina, RE-2 Lamar School Board director, is being challenged for his District B seat in the November general election by Monty Thompson.  Both candidates responded to a list of questions presented to them in a public forum, Wednesday, October 19, hosted by Susanna Mitchell, President of the Lamar Education Association.   

Regarding his priorities as a school board member, Medina replied that one was to make sure we were spending our money in the wisest way.  He added that with tightening budgets, it becomes harder to make sure that students are provided a quality education.  Thompson said he believed that budget cuts are the biggest priority facing education, the ones that are hitting us and the ones that are coming.  He said we need to find a way to advance our education without suffering those hits. 

Responding to the question on what he felt were the most pressing problems in the district, Medina replied that other than the budget, it was a matter of having lost trust.  He said that during his career, from administration all the way through the legislature, we hired professional teachers and trusted them to do the job, but that trust has been damaged during the pursuit of accountability through various administrations.  He said, “We need to reestablish that trust in teachers to do the job they were hired to do.”  Medina added that we have good teachers that do great jobs teaching our children, but, “We put more burdens on them in the name of accountability.”  Thompson said he felt the problem was a “serious lack of discipline,” adding that he’s seen truant kids in the middle of the day, and although that kind of discipline was a parent’s responsibility, the schools needed to show that discipline should be in all walks of life.  He added that the lack of respect for all parties, teachers, students, parents and the community needs to be addressed. 

On the matter of evaluating student achievement, Medina said he is not in favor of the way it’s being done now.  “Tests that cover the whole state of Colorado are biased to the Front Range,” he told the gathering.  He felt the tests are only revealing a ‘snapshot’ of student performance because they show student performance on only one test at one time of the year.  He cited a personal example in which a past student’s performance dropped from a previous score, because a test was given to him during a personal family crisis.  Medina said our teachers can give a better assessment of a student’s progress because they are there with them every day of the school year.  He added that this is a measure of the trust he spoke about earlier in the forum.  Thompson stated he was against the CSAP’s for a measure of a student’s academic achievement.  He felt that just the principal’s report to board members was not an accurate reflection of what is going on in the classrooms.  He felt that teachers should be able to express classroom performance to the board without any repercussions, and added that the districts need to become more involved in the schools. 

Monty Thompson stated in response to a question,”Without open communication, nothing would ever be resolved or improved on with regard to communication with the Lamar Education Association.  He added that both parties need that openness with either a teacher asking him for information or vice versa.  He said both sides have to be willing to listen.  Alan Medina said he wants to be a good listener and operate with an open and honest dialogue.  He said his past involvement as a member of a teacher association for 25 years has showed him what they’re about, what they can do and what their limitations are.  Medina said that as a board member, he would hope that an Association president or member would feel comfortable talking to him in issues of concern. 

District B is the only contested District on the Lamar school board.  Mike Harvey turned in his petition to replace Elizabeth Whitham and he is not being contested in the election.  Ronnie Peterson will remain a board member from District D, and Danny Tinnes, the newest board member is running unopposed in District F.  He is currently filling the vacated position held by Connie Brase.

By Russ Baldwin




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