Vail Unified Governing Board Candidates 2022

Each election year, The Vail Voice supports Governing Board candidates speaking in their own voice directly to voters in the district. This Q&A is a continuation from August’s issue. Total word count for each response (excluding the question itself) is to be no more than 400 words. We are grateful for each candidate’s participation!

The answers designated “A1”, “A2” and “A3” to the following questions:

Question 1)
What specific issues do you believe the Vail School District needs to address in their academic programs? What changes do you recommend?

Question 2)
Could you support a Board decision you did not vote for? Why or why not?

Question 3)
How will you determine the district’s budget priorities?

Jennifer Anderson

A1) “Our students’ successes both academically and personally are always going to be our priority to ensure their bright futures. We have all been impacted by the pandemic and the loss of interaction and instruction that takes place in the classroom. My most pressing concerns for students are the loss of learning, meeting academic standards, and their mental health. The dedicated teachers of our district worked very hard to meet the individual needs of each of their students while teaching remotely. However, remote learning took a toll on so many of our kids. I know the Vail School District has been working diligently on programs to help students get caught up through their Reteach and Enrich Program, as well as tutoring. I recommend that the Vail School District continues to develop programs to help students get caught up. I also recommend providing students with extra-curricular resources that they can use at home, if they desire or choose, to help them master concepts with which they may be having difficulty.”

A2) “We all have different views and life experiences, and those differences bring value to a Board. Good relationships with others have enabled me to have meaningful discussions to work through differences as I have served on various Boards and Committees. That does not mean we always all agree. One of the Vail School District Governing Board goals is to “model the standard in the district,” and then “make governance decisions based on what each board member believes is in the best interest of the District and the students in the District”. I believe it is important that we share with, and listen to, each other. Once we vote, it is our responsibility to respect the process, support that decision, and move forward united.”

A3) “I feel that our goals as a District should be represented in our budget. As a Board, we are representing our tax paying community and are charged with ensuring our District meets the best interests of the students. Items of priority are salaries to hire and retain employees, expanding academic support, improving site safety and security, continuing to upgrade buildings, adding additional mental health supports, working on student retention, supporting students with disabilities, supporting students as they prepare for college, and providing outstanding fine arts programs. I want to represent what is important to our schools and our community.”

Ed Buster

A1) ” We live in a rapidly changing world that demands current, evolving, and applicable skills. Academia recognizes but struggles with keeping up with advancements and exponential costs of resources. We must consider every strategic partnership and global solution to provide our educators with tools to prepare students to pursue successful futures.
I would recommend greater coordination between our schools and the business and technical industries to help bridge technological gaps. This added capacity will increase differentiated instruction leading to better learning and outcomes within whole-learner frameworks. Through expanding partnerships with private technology companies, our administrators, educators, and most importantly our students gain insight, experience, and preparation for the world to come.”

A2) “Each member of the board is both an individual with unique experiences as well as a representative of the people. This provides diversified perspectives making the group powerful in understanding the ideologies and opinions of our people. Each board member has an obligation to gain information and request opinions on issues, discuss the concerns and benefits, and voice similar and differing opinions on behalf of each constituent.

To maintain the dignity of each individual, the position, and the Board, we must discharge our duties with the utmost professionalism, decorum, and grace. We must be the example through polite, respectful, and mindful debate, to quorum, and thereafter. This shows cohesion and solidarity for the sake of each student, parent, educator, and community member. I will support Board decisions I do not vote for because as a Board member, it will be my duty and in the best interest of each stakeholder.”

A3) “I will review spending, determine what is important to our community, compare short and long-term goals, and review our financial buffer. I will support an efficient budget because student success relies on the effective use of every dollar.

Our district priorities come from each tax paying citizen. The people expect a district to meet educational needs with effective use of finite resources. The Board has a responsibility to ensure expenditures do not exceed revenues.
I will collaboratively work with stakeholders to ensure resources are utilized to safeguard each student’s opportunity to gain the best education. Educators and staff are our neighbors and friends. I will champion the development and promulgation of a budget to take into consideration the district’s affirmed obligation for employee retention, sustainability, and welfare. I will accept the formulation of a sound annual budget within those parameters.”

Geraldine Kleber

A1) “I believe that the major issue that we are facing right now in the district, due to all of what we have gone through due to Covid, is a lack of disciplinary action. A school governing board can authorize the suspension, expulsion, or mandatory reassignment for conduct prohibited by the district standards. I do believe that right now our students have been able to get away with more than ever, and the lack of stricter guidelines for consequences could be affecting our student’s behavior.”

A2) “As a member of the board, you are one of five. There will be times that not all of us will agree on an issue, be it in favor of a change or not. I believe that disagreements will happen, as we should all have diverse backgrounds and ideas of what is best, and that may affect outcomes. I will support what the majority will have a consensus on, even if my vote is not in the majority.”

A3) “I have attended the past two years of budget discussions during the study session and governing board meetings. I have learned that as a district, we should prioritize students and teachers, and I do believe that we may be lacking in that. I do believe that with the state’s funding formulas changing in the future, we will be able to give more to teachers, and in turn, that will be a big advantage to the students. Retention bonuses might be a way to keep our amazing teachers from leaving and going to other school districts around us. I, as a board member, would rather bring my own lunch or dinner to any event, that way those funds can go towards our students and teachers. With my bachelor of accounting degree, and having worked with budgets in my prior positions, I believe I will have a great advantage as a board member.”

Jayme Morris

A1) “Vail School District has already established a clear vision with high expectations for quality education that supports strong student outcomes. I would recommend following labor market demand trends and economic forecasting to continue offering opportunities for our children to flourish and grow as strong community members. Critical elements of new academic program viability include student demand, labor market demand, and market saturation. Our district will continue to attract students and families by offering optimized academic programs to help prepare them for the future.”

A2) “I would support the majority vote as long as I am given the respect to be heard. This includes a discussion and an appropriate level of attention and independent thinking being involved in the process. The board speaks with one voice. It is important they reach consensus to move forward while representing the diverse values and needs of our children and community. With every decision the board votes on, it is my responsibility to advocate adherence to achieve the best positive outcome and to ensure accurate results. The decisions a school board makes will impact your children and community for years to come.”

A3) “The success of every single student relies on each and every dollar spent toward reaching academic goals and raising student achievement by grasping innovative ideas, creative initiatives, and ever changing technology integration.

Managing a budget of millions of dollars to respond to the needs of children includes, but is not limited to, transportation, facilities that are clean and well maintained, heat and cooling, health and safety (security measures), qualified teachers with supplies, and support staff. All important factors when creating a budget.

I have a strong focus toward curriculum and staff development, offering sufficient training and continuing education to our teachers. It is important we invest in our teachers and staff so they are able to provide students with necessary knowledge and skills outside of school. Investing in our teachers is investing in our children’s future.”

Leroy Smith

A1) “Hello Vail community! As a school district we are exceptional in many ways, our standards must uphold academic excellence, special honors, and acknowledgment of merit for all students and teachers.

As for any school district, there’s always room for improvement, meaningful communication with students, parents, guardians, community, provide the public the opportunity to provide input and take such input into account, protect academic freedoms, respecting our cultural heritage, focus on the spirit of unity, bullying and physical assault, and curriculum, textbook, and lesson plan transparency with parent review and approval. Teach students how to think, not what to think, convey that parents are a partner with the school, not an adversary! I find these concerns a reminder of reducing mitigation.”

A2) “I understand we are individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Board members cannot be expected to agree with everything other board members and constituents say or support, but we must listen respectfully to opinions and concerns. I would take a thoughtful, sincere, and deliberate approach to research a better understanding of the issues, knowing our decisions have a tremendous impact on our children, grandchildren, parents, teachers, and community. I will take a constructive approach towards effective communication, research, guidance, and teamwork because decisions should be made around the table and not behind closed doors. If the board makes a decision that is not in the best interest of the students, parents, teachers and community, I will not vote for it, but four out of five will always prevail.”

A3) “School budget resources come from a combination of federal, state, and local funding, which allows our school district the opportunity to justify expenditure of public funds and resources. Strategic alignment of district dollars is paramount for ensuring advancement of the interest of our student’s education, salaries and benefits for teachers and staff, and professionals that interact with our students daily.

Should I have the honor earning your vote on November 8, 2022, my priority would be reviewing administrative costs reducing unnecessary expenditures, to increase teacher pay, provide funding for low income and other underserved students or students with disabilities in our community. Provide funding for emergency preparedness, response efforts, FEMA and Homeland Security training, including structural security, building and transportation maintenance. I will be vigilant and diligent during my tenure in working with our community, students and staff!”

Anastasia Tsatsakis

A1) “As with any board, there is always room for improvement and the Vail School District is not any different. There are many great things that come from the district…wins, recognition, rewards and praise. There have been a few chinks in the armor that need updating. More notification/communication is needed regarding items the board is considering and how the community should get involved in that process to better understand it. The board also needs to notify the community of the committees this district has to offer and how they can be part of it. In addition, communication on the whole is failing and should be addressed and utilized to better notify the district family and community at large. I find these issues, among others, vastly lacking and need further redress.”

A2) ” A governing board is comprised of people with varying thought processes and belief systems. The purpose of voting for or against something requires investigation, asking lots of questions, research and guidance. If a decision the board makes is truly not in the best interest of this district I cannot vote for it, but if the majority rules, that is where it stands.”

A3) “Every business has a budget, which, by definition, is “an estimate and expenditure for a set period of time”. School budgets are massive, funded by state and federal monies and are very fluid and complex. They are broken down into building funds, teacher/administrative pay, maintenance, marketing and many other parts. My priority would be teacher pay/staffing, continuing proper funding for the under-serviced population in our community, reducing administrative overhead, eliminating unnecessary expenditures and making sure transportation is up to date. These are just a few of the items that need to take priority!

In closing, I want to thank the Vail Voice for giving us a way to have our voices heard in the community regarding our candidacy. I look forward to earning your vote November. Get out and vote!

Thank you to all the 2022 Vail Unified Governing Board Candidates for their participation.

About author View all posts

Lucretia Free