Kate Hudnut: An opportunity to lean in and to innovate | SummitDaily.com

Kate Hudnut: An opportunity to lean in and to innovate

Kate Hudnut
Summit School District board candidate
Kate Hudnut

I am a long-time Summit County resident, business owner and parent. I am committed to working for all the families who call this mountain community home.

I’ve served on the school board since 2017. I started by studying the budget, reviewing board policies, asking questions and — most importantly — listening and building relationships. In February 2020, our board chose me to serve as president.

As a proud public school graduate, I am passionate about public education. I love to learn about complex systems and build strong teams. I have learned more in this role than in any other leadership position. I’ve built relationships from classrooms to the community to state organizations.

I would like to continue to put this knowledge to work for our kids by being reelected for a two-year term. We have an extraordinary challenge to reengage our students and to support our staff as we transition back to five days in person in the midst of the disruption of COVID-19. With Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, we have the opportunity to lean in and to innovate.

As a board member, it’s important to understand our roles and responsibilities and how we support the work of our one employee: the superintendent. Understanding these roles is vital to a strong board-superintendent partnership and a high-functioning district.

Priority No. 1: Strengthen relationships

To use a phrase from Snowy Peaks Principal Jim Smith, “relationships first.” We need to listen to stories and find common ground. We need to build trust from the board table to the students, educators, parents and the community. We need to continue to make data-informed decisions with guidance from our public health experts regarding COVID-19 precautions. We must continue to support mental health as well as build a learning community that treats people with dignity, respect and creates a culture of belonging. We must prioritize these strong relationships so we can collectively support the whole child — every child, every day.

Occupation: Nonprofit, marketing and events management consultant for GatherHouse

Years in Summit County: 27

Family: Husband, John Hudnut; sophomore daughter at Summit High School

Civic involvement: Current: Summit School District Board of Education president and PreCollegiate Mentor at Summit High School. Previous: Family & Intercultural Resource Center board, Dillon Valley Elementary School Accountability Committee, Little Red Schoolhouse board, town of Breckenridge public art commissioner, The Summit Foundation Mountain Art Gathering student mentor, Father Dyer Methodist Church staff parish relations committee, Summit County Arts Council, and various fundraising, ballot initiative and candidate committees.

Priority No. 2: Strategic Plan rollout

Through our newly approved Strategic Plan, we have the framework to focus on:

  • Academic and personal success for every student
  • Equity-seeking systems
  • Family and community partnerships

I look forward to the opportunity to dig deeper into that community-driven, student-focused work.

Our new graduate profile challenges our students (and all of us) to be courageous, curious, globally aware, prepared and growth-oriented.

I will continue to be dedicated to equity and the strong foundations and objectives that were set forth in our newly adopted Just and Equitable Education policy. This includes reviewing our curriculum; providing multiple pathways with targeted supports; improving communication; and striving for workforce equity by improving our hiring, retention and professional learning. It’s important to remember that Colorado law focuses on inclusion in our schools, including House Bill 19-1192, called Inclusion of Minorities in Teaching Civil Government. Academic freedom and free speech are the foundation of protecting our democracy and enabling a world-class education that prepares students with a fact-based curriculum — free from censorship — to compete and participate in the global economy.

I am eager to continue working with my fellow board members and district leaders to partner with families, our community, fellow elected officials and nonprofit partners to engage in conversations about collaborative workforce housing solutions, wraparound care (child care before and after school to help our working families) and a Climate Action Plan.

We will continue to use state and federal funds to provide supports for individualized instruction and mental health needs. We’ll continue to examine the successes of programs like pre-collegiate and Snowy Peaks and how those models could transform all of our classrooms.

Priority No. 3: Attract and retain highly qualified educators and staff

I am proud of the significant investment that we made for our teachers, support staff and leadership pay increases through the negotiations and budgeting process in spring 2021. Our board knows that acknowledging the incredibly hard work of our educators and retaining our current staff is the No. 1 priority for our budget, especially after an incredibly challenging pandemic year. I will continue to have courageous conversations (aka hard but necessary conversations) about how we are compensating our talented staff. Let’s continue to find better solutions and supports for health care, mental health, child care and housing.

We will continue to prioritize attracting and retaining educators. I will continue to pursue better solutions for K-12 funding from a state, local and federal level. We must fix the broken funding stream so we can pay livable wages.

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