Get an A for effort: Run for a seat on the school board | SummitDaily.com
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Get an A for effort: Run for a seat on the school board

Pat Keehley

I share Summit School District board member Dr. Garrett Sullivan’s hope the Summit County voters have at least eight candidates from which to elect four members of the Board of Education this Nov. 4.

Unfortunately, I will not be one of those eight candidates. Family illnesses require that I be out of the county for extended periods over the next year. I cannot in good conscience run, knowing I will likely miss many board meetings.

However, I strongly encourage interested residents to think about the following:

Please consider running even if you do not have children in the school district. Because my daughter is almost 3 and not attending any district program, I had the freedom to consider district policies without worrying about how those decisions would impact her.

She was not affected by my votes related to travel policies or the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, yet I developed strong opinions on both.

Although you may not have school-age children, you must be prepared to blend reliable information with your own values, presumably with the students’ best interest in mind.

If you decide to run, please be sure you understand the difference between policy and management.

The board establishes broad values and guidelines (i.e. policies) while the superintendent and her administration manage in a way that implements those policies.

For example, the board indicated a strong desire to support early childhood education programs and a request for a sabbatical. The superintendent revised the budget to accommodate those priorities.

Please, don’t bother running if you think you’re going to fix a problem in the district. We already have a terrific district as demonstrated by our active and high-performing students, dedicated teachers and skillful administrators.

The district needs neither someone to fix it nor someone who will polarize students, teachers, administrators or the community.

Yes, the district could improve in several areas. But moving from good to excellent requires a team approach.

Groups of people need to be clearly and concurrently focused on achieving goals.

One person trying to fix things can create unnecessary obstacles. If you work well with other people, especially in the decision-making process, please run for a seat.

If you are good at finding creative ways to meet the diverse needs of various constituent groups, this job is definitely for you.

If you like to examine complex problems from different perspectives, the district needs you. If you’re willing to encourage innovation despite some risks, please submit your petition today.

Also, please consider running if you would like to contribute to the overall Summit County community.

District operations and policies constantly spill over to other governments and the private sector. The town of Silverthorne and hundreds of residents were involved in the decision of where to locate the new elementary school.

The district’s contracting processes reach out to dozens of local businesses ranging from Domino’s Pizza to architects. And, everyone in the community experiences the dangers of driving in our surprise snowstorms whether you’re in an SUV or school bus. If you are elected to the board, you definitely will be asked to make decisions that impact the broader community.

Don’t consider running unless you are somewhat open-minded and enjoy reading (more specifically, speed reading) volumes of reports and articles frequently filled with pages of data.

It is easy to skip the reading and analysis and assume what you already have in your mind is true and accurate. Although somewhat tedious to sift through, the reports and data will pry open the most stubborn mind and hopefully shed light on the complexities of the decision at hand.

Do you have enough time to serve on the board? Of course not. No one ever does. Don’t let that stop you from running.

We all must strike a balance between our professional and personal lives and still find time to serve our community. Recognize that you will spend at least two nights a month attending the meetings and several hours a week reading reports or participating in other activities.

Is it worth the time and effort? Absolutely.

I was reluctant to leave even the toughest meeting (no doubt related to the new Silverthorne Elementary School) because I sincerely wanted to make the best decision on behalf of the students.

Sometimes those decisions are unpopular. I cannot recall a single moment I regretted the emotional and physical energy spent on board activities. If you want a chance to make a difference, sign up today.

To me, the most rewarding decision was the selection of a new superintendent. Dr. Lynn Spampinato brings amazing ideas and talents to the district, and I’m honored to have contributed to her selection.

It feels good to know the district is in capable hands and that I contributed in a small way to the energy and professionalism she brings.

Dr. Pat Keehley was appointed to the board in 2002 to fill a vacancy. She is not seeking

election Nov. 4 when four seats, including hers, are up for grabs.


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