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October 13, 2011
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Meet the West Grand School Board candidates

The Sky-Hi News asked school board candidates to respond to questions about school finances and policies. Below are their answers in alphabetical order.Name: Dean BillingtonNumber of years in Grand County: Owned a business in Grand County for 22 years, moved to Grand County 12 years agoOccupation: Self-employed small business ownerImmediate family: Wife Susan Billington, three daughters ages 20, 18 and 17 How does your background prepare you for the school board?Combining more than 20 years of successfully operating and growing my own business with almost four years of service as a current school board member provides me with the hands-on experience that I feel has prepared me for this position. My current term as a board member has given me a solid understanding of how our school district operates and several of the challenges that are in front of us. What do you think is the biggest issue facing the school district?I believe that the biggest issue facing the school district is the multiple factors or "issues" combining to put the quality of our children's education at risk. Identifying these issues, understanding their impact on our district, and working on all of them together is the only way to ensure a strong education for our students now and in the future. At the top of the long list of factors I would place adequate funding, declining enrollment and our economic climate. What do you hope to accomplish while serving on the school board?Providing our students with a quality educational experience is a fundamental cornerstone for them to build a life all-round. I hope that my efforts will continue to offer the students of our community that opportunity. If faced with serious budget cuts, how would you prioritize the following categories?: Individual schools; educational programs and curriculum; extracurricular activities; instructional and administrative personnel; and/or other. Educational programs and curriculum, instructional and administrative personnel, extracurricular activities, individual schools. What is your philosophy for providing a better overall education for our students?The focus needs to be on ensuring that we provide our students with the skills, knowledge and experience that will allow them to pursue the many opportunities presented to them in life. In order for us to give our students this foundation, they need the help and support of our schools, their families and the community.Name: Brett DavidsonNumber of years in Grand County: 37Occupation: Director of Irrigation & Maintenance Immediate family: Wife- Kem, Daughter- Jordan, Son- Reno How does your background prepare you for the school board?Two years on the board, West Grand graduate, parent, business owner and property owner. What do you think is the biggest issue facing the school district?School District Budget. Our community is very supportive of this district, it's just too bad the state isn't as supportive. What do you hope to accomplish while serving on the school board?A district that operates like a well-oiled machine. If faced with serious budget cuts, how would you prioritize the following categories?: Individual schools; educational programs and curriculum; extracurricular activities; instructional and administrative personnel; and/or other.We need to keep in mind what is best for the education of our children when we make any kind of budget decision. You need to be very careful on how you trim the tree to make sure you don't kill it. What is your philosophy for providing a better overall education for our students?Give every student the opportunity to receive a well rounded education at West Grand. I want to keep the high expectations and student achievement while working within the West Grand School District budget.Name: Michele DeSantiNumber of years in Grand County: My husband and I have lived in Grand County for 19 years.Occupation: I am employed at the Kremmling Preschool.Immediate family: My immediate family is my husband Jack and two daughters Kayla who is in the 7th grade, and Emma who is in the 4th grade.How does your background prepare you for the school board?I have a background in both business and education. My business background has given me the opportunity to create and manage large budgets. My educational background has been as a board member for the Kremmling Preschool, District Accountability Committee (DAC) member, and employee of the West Grand School District. I served on the Kremmling Preschool Board for seven years, five as the board president. I was employed by the West Grand School District for five years as a reading paraprofessional. Currently I serve on the District Accountability Committee for West Grand School District, having done so for five years. I believe I have gained a unique perspective that will help me to serve in the best interest of the children of this community.What do you think is the biggest issue facing the school district?I believe one of the biggest issues facing our school district is how do we continue to provide the same level of services to our children with less and less resources?What do you hope to accomplish while serving on the school board?Should I be elected to the school board, it is my hope that we as a group can provide clear leadership to the administration and staff. Hard questions and decision must be asked and made, and it is my intention that at the end of my tenure, I can confidently know we made decisions that were in the best interest of our children.If faced with serious budget cuts, how would you prioritize the following categories?: Individual schools; educational programs and curriculum; extracurricular activities; instructional and administrative personnel; and/or other.I believe West Grand School District has already been faced with some fairly substantial budget cuts. Should this trend continue, I would prioritize the categories as follows (with number 1 being the most sacred and last to be cut) 1. Highly qualified instructional staff 2. Educational programs and curriculum 3. Extracurricular activities 4. Individual schools 5. OtherWhat is your philosophy for providing a better overall education for our students?I believe all children have a right to an education that will allow them to reach their academic, social, emotional and physical potential. I also believe we should continue to encourage our teachers to be facilitators in providing those hands-on learning moments. We must ensure that we meet our children wherever they are in their learning process, teaching to the whole child.Name: Jon EwertName: Jon EwertNumber of years in Grand County: 5Occupation: Fisheries Biologist, Colorado Division of WildlifeImmediate family: Wife Amy, sons Sam, 8, and Ben, 6 How does your background prepare you for the school board?My day job involves a large amount of decision-making based on detailed analysis. I feel that this gives me a strong analytical ability to bring to the table. What do you think is the biggest issue facing the school district?The double-whammy of paltry funding for education per capita on a statewide basis, and local population loss. What do you hope to accomplish while serving on the school board?To do whatever I can to increase stability and good communication at all levels in the school district. If faced with serious budget cuts, how would you prioritize the following categories?: Individual schools; educational programs and curriculum; extracurricular activities; instructional and administrative personnel; and/or other. 1. Educational programs and curriculum 2. Instructional and administrative personnel 3. Individual schools 4. extracurricular activities What is your philosophy for providing a better overall education for our students?We need to ensure that effective teachers need to be empowered, valued and appreciated, and that communication throughout the school system administration is open and strong.Name: Michael "Mitch" LockhartNumber of years in Grand County: FourOccupation: RancherImmediate family: I am blessed to be married to Christina "Bumgarner" Lockhart and to be the father of two young sons, Kyler Allen Lockhart and Landon Gary Lockhart. How does your background prepare you for the school board?As the vice president of the Kremmling Little League Board and the majors head coach, I have gained valuable experience in leadership as well as earned an opportunity to work with and mentor our youth. As a volunteer firefighter, I have had the privilege of getting to know the community in which we live, and I believe I can be a valuable asset. I am young and passionate about the future of our communities' school. Having grown up outside of the district, I can bring a fresh perspective while still understanding the ends and outs of small-town life. What do you think is the biggest issue facing the school district?I believe that the biggest issue facing our district currently is student retention. Along with that is teacher retention, which results in a lack of consistency in teaching staff. I believe that strong leadership is instrumental in creating a sense of pride in our district in which students and teachers alike can foster and run with. What do you hope to accomplish while serving on the school board?One person cannot accomplish much on their own, that is why there is a school board, a teaching staff and a community -a team. I have experience working with and leading teams; I believe that by collaboratively working towards our goals of student retention, pride building and ultimately creating students who will be successful when they graduate, our district as a whole will be successful as well. If faced with serious budget cuts, how would you prioritize the following categories?: Individual schools; educational programs and curriculum; extracurricular activities; instructional and administrative personnel; and/or other.I believe that this list is missing the crucial component to our educational system. Priority number one is the kids, period. That is not to say that in these economic times that tough decisions may need to be made. I believe that the student's needs should be put before all others. All of the above listed categories are important to a child's development, all categories have value. There is no cut and dry answer if the situation arises in which a decision has to be made. All angles will be looked at and a collaborative decision will be reached by the team. What is your philosophy for providing a better overall education for our students?If I were to conceptualize an overall philosophy it would be one of pride. I come from a small town where pride in our school and our students is a monumental motivational factor. The entire town rallies around their school district and supports their students throughout their educational career. I want my kids to be proud of where they go to school and where they graduate. I want their teachers to be proud of where they work and I want the administrators to be proud of the schools they oversee. I am a huge proponent of being proud of what you do and I am ready and willing to put in the work to see our goals met.


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The Sky-Hi News Updated Oct 13, 2011 06:36PM Published Oct 13, 2011 06:33PM Copyright 2011 The Sky-Hi News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.