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School board to interview replacements

FRISCO – Eight candidates have applied to fill a vacancy on the Summit School Board. Current board members will spend a large portion of tonight’s regular board meeting interviewing the applicants.Fifteen-minute interviews with each of the candidates will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the school district administration offices on School Road in Frisco. The interviews will break at 7 p.m. for the beginning of the regular board meeting, board secretary Karen Mack said, and resume once the board’s business is completed. The interviews are open to the public.”We’re really happy,” Mack said. “There’s been a lot of interest from good candidates.”The candidates are past school board election contenders Corley Friesen, Marina Larson and Ruth Hertzberg, as well as Stuart Adams, Pat Keehley, Terry Morgan, Paul Olson and James Shaw.Former school board president Jennifer Brauns resigned last month shortly after announcing her son would leave Summit schools to attend the private Vail Mountain School.—Bilingual education debateAdministrators had hoped to present a balanced forum on Amendment 31. The petition-led initiative will ask voters in November to change English-language instruction in Colorado schools with a constitutional amendment. Bambi Forbes, an Eagle County parent representing English Plus, a group opposed to the amendment because it limits English learners to one year of sheltered instruction and places punitive restrictions on school officials, is scheduled to explain her group’s stance. Rita Montero, chair of English for the Children, the group sponsoring the amendment, was scheduled to attend the board meeting but cancelled Friday.”A friend was going to take me up but had a job responsibility come up,” Montero said Tuesday. “I did suggest we do a conference call – I did that with Eagle schools – but they didn’t want to do that.”Mack said that’s not true. She said Montero suggested the phone conference in her e-mail canceling her appearance and never replied to the school district’s subsequent request for a substitute speaker.”We explained we wanted to do something for an audience,” Mack said. “I provided our Denver line, so it would have been toll free for her to call.”Montero said the current spate of advertising opposing Amendment 31 is spreading fallacies. She said the TV ads make viewers believe teachers will lose their jobs over not following the letter of the law; in fact, she said, parents sue to have the amendment enforced, not to get teachers fired and seek financial damages.In addition, any legal ramifications are borne by the principal and superintendent, Montero said. The language of the amendment stipulates that parents have 10 years to sue after a school grants the child a waiver; a waiver is required to enroll a student in more than one year of sheltered English instruction.”The principal and the superintendent sign off on that, and teachers need to stay away from that process,” Montero said. “And if they put a child in a failing program, they better know there can be legal ramifications.”School officials – and state elected representatives who have spoken out against the measure – object to the amendment taking away the control and choice of local school boards. Montero said she’s received feedback from Summit County parents dissatisfied with the district’s English-acquisition program. Montero said she wasn’t familiar with Summit Schools’ test scores but referred to state averages.”Across the board, the students are doing poorly,” she said. “And you want to talk about choice? School boards, principals and teachers have been making the choices because they think they know better. This process starts with the parents seeking the waiver and them making the choice to put their child in the program.”The school board will meet in a special meeting at 7:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 11, to possibly draft a resolution on Amendment 31. Board members also could select a candidate to fill the board vacancy at that meeting.Board members tonight also will be asked to approve the final revision of the school district’s budget. Final adjustments were made last week after the annual Oct. 1 count of students. The district made a net gain of only three students, less growth than expected, which will translate into between $100,000 and $150,000 less in state funding. The proposed budget totals more than $40 million, including more than $23 million in general operating funds, $5.7 million in bond redemption funds and $8.9 million in the district’s special building, maintenance and technology fund.The school board also is scheduled to take a private, executive session on real estate matters at the close of the meeting.Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or rwilliams@summitdaily.com.—When & Where- Who: Summit School Board- What: Regular meeting- When: 5:30 p.m. today- Where: Central administration offices, Frisco


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