SUMMIT COUNTY " County voters elected to stick with experience in Tuesday's school board election, choosing Christine Scanlan and Erin Major to retain their seats while picking Sheila Groneman to join the board.
Major and Scanlan, both of Dillon, were each appointed to fill vacancies (Scanlan in April 2004 and Major earlier this year). Current board president Kristy Johnson chose not to seek another term, opening the group's seventh slot for Groneman, the current director of Summit County Head Start, an organization focused on early childhood learning.
"Kristy Johnson is hard to replace, absolutely, but Sheila Groneman is such a positive force with early childhood (education) and such a steady and usual face in Summit County politics, I think she's going to be a huge asset," Major said.
In choosing from among the six candidates (Boyd Mitchell, Hilary Carlson and Tony Flitcraft rounded out the field), voters didn't have an easy choice, as the votes showed.
The candidates were all generally in agreement on the issues facing the district, including: construction delays, the challenge of teaching non-English-speaking students and federal testing standards.
In the end, the vote clearly favored those with a familiarity to the issues. A former Silverthorne Town Council member, Groneman's expertise in both education and local government was enough to garner her the necessary votes, while Scanlan and Major's time on the board itself secured them the two highest vote totals.
The addition of only one new face to the panel would seem to ensure a continued trend of cooperation among its members; laughter has not been uncommon at meetings, a surprising fact to some familiar with the district's recent history.
"People are feeling good about the direction of the district," Scanlan said. "I came onto the board at a fairly difficult time in the history of the Summit schools, and I think (the public) is feeling very positive about the direction we're going, which is gratifying."
Scanlan expects the "new" board to focus primarily on the high school, following the national trend in education putting a greater emphasis on secondary schooling. Groneman, for her part, acknowledged the many issues facing the district but expects the construction delays to warrant special attention. Major anticipated a Nov. 10 meeting at which the board plans to identify its biggest challenges.
Much of the excitement in the education community Tuesday night wasn't focused on the school board, however, but on the passage of 1A. Scanlan and Groneman both were elated when informed of the measure's success.
"The school district has participated in the past in most of the quality improvement initiatives we've had here locally," Groneman said, "and 1A was crafted around a lot of those initiatives, so I would expect that the (Summit) schools would benefit from some of those dollars."
"We are so excited about 1A," Groneman continued. "This is groundbreaking not only in Colorado but nationally. For this kind of local support for early childhood (education) " it's just outstanding."
Mike Morris can be reached at (970)-668-3998, ext. 13628, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scanlan: 2,451 votes (23.1 percent)
Major: 2,191 votes (20.6 percent)
Groneman: 2,096 votes (19.7 percent)
Mitchell: 1,724 votes (16.2 percent)
Carlson: 1,301 votes (12.2 percent)
Flitcraft: 850 votes (8.0 percent)