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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Boulder Valley School RE-2 Director District E

Four year term
CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
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    Donna Miers Retired (May 2017) teacher

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    Raj Rawat Inspirational Speaker and Author

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    Dean Vlachos Environmental Engineer

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Biographical Information

Would you change BVSD’s K-12 curriculum to assure it adequately prepares students to succeed upon graduation, if they do no plan to attend college? Please elaborate.

How would you change standardized testing for the BVSD, if you think it needs changing?

How will you work to close the achievement gap between white and non-white(Latino) students, and consistently raise the level of achievement for all students?

Background I have worked in both the private and public sector of education. I currently hold a Colorado Department of Education Administrator license as well as a professional teachers license with endorsements in Elementary Education (k-6), Special Education Affective needs (5-12), English Language Arts (7-12), Special Education Generalist (5-21), Special Education Specialist (5-21), Linguistically Diverse Education (k-12). I received my Master of Education from the University of Illinois where my focus was as a reading specialist. Before working in the Boulder Valley Schools District, I was the Director of Special Education for Dakota Ridge Academy an out of district placement school used by BVSD and was part of Boulder Community Hospital. In my most recent position with BVSD I worked as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). As a (TOSA) transition specialist a big part of my job was communicating with school administrators and with special education teachers serving grades k-12 regarding writing quality individualized education plans (IEPs) that would help students move toward successful outcomes after completing high school. I had to assist teachers developing well-planned IEPs that met both state and federal compliance regulations. I have raised 3 sons who were all educated in BVSD neighborhood schools. BVSD has excellent schools. We have done many things right. With that said, though, there is always room to grow and room for improvement. We as a school district need to prepare our students for jobs that currently don’t exist. How do we do that? We do that by providing all students with the best education possible. We do that by looking at data and research and applying that information to our education process. We do that by hiring educators that are knowledgeable in their fields and are passionate about their profession. We reward hard work with an appropriate pay scale. We allow all of our students to have equal access to a quality education. Our district is great but we can always improve. We must always seek to grow and learn. When I retired I began to think about using my years of knowledge and experience in the education field as both a teacher and administrator in a way that would continue to make a positive impact on students. I decided I could make a positive impact as a school board member. I am willing to not only listen to my community but to use measures and metrics to drive me to make informed and wise decisions for our schools. I will work hard to grow and learn in this capacity just as I did as an educator for the last 30 years of my life.
Contact e-mail miers.donna@gmail.com
Contact phone 3038808567
Twitter @bvsdsped
As the district's transition specialist, I worked with many students ages 18-21 that were not college bound. I connected with local businesses to place students in job experiences so that they could gain work skills that would lead to paid competitive employment. Some of the students I helped place were able to obtain jobs, yet others were not kept on in their work assignments because they lacked the basic reading and math skills needed for the job. Additionally, I tried to get many students placed in BVSD’s vocational-technical programs to no avail because they needed more academic skill sets. Students cannot attend our district's Vo-Tech programs unless they can pass LA 9 and Algebra 1. Sometimes students need to take these classes several times in order to pass. Also, to acquire and maintain employment students must have basic math and reading skills. Our k-12 curriculum allows students to gain the knowledge and skills they will need to choose a college or other workforce path
I think our standardized testing does need to change. Currently, our testing has become extremely grueling for students and staff. Testing chews up valuable instruction time each year. For the past several years we have gone from one test to another (CSAP, TCAP, PARCC and CMAS) so that we cannot obtain reliable comparisons and growth information from year to year due to ever-changing norms on the tests. I believe we can find a way to shorten the testing and still get reliable data. We must work together to find a better way for students to demonstrate proficiency in math, reading, and science. Additionally, it is not fair to have our English Language Learners take these tests when they do not have the language skills nor the background knowledge necessary for the tests. Currently, the tests are too long and grueling and cause stress and resentment from students, parents, and staff. I know there is a better way to assess our students and or progress as a district.
We must narrow the achievement gap that is so prevalent in our English Language Learners and our students of low income. We cannot wait until a student is below the 12th percentile and failing before we intervene. There are assessments such as AIMsweb and STAR. These are quick, painless assessments that students actually enjoy. We can get regular (weekly or monthly) data that allows us to know if a student is improving academically. If we assess student several times a month then we can determine whether or not we need to change the instructional intervention. When a student begins to see his/her own growth on data charts then the student begins to have a feeling of success and desires to continue on that trajectory of success. I have used these assessments and have had great results with my students. If we had such core assessments district-wide and obtained and used the results regularly to drive instruction then we would begin to see a narrowing of the achievement gap.
Background 20 Years of impossible billion dollar problems in Xerox and IBM and similar companies. Leading conferences, companies, and leaders on building a culture of excellence.
Contact e-mail raj@rajrawat.com
Contact phone 7205856350
Twitter @rajeevrawat
A bigger problem than curriculum is engagement. If students are engaged many curriculum issues will be easier to resolve. Another issue to solve is the care for teachers. Pay alone is not enough. Teachers need time, respect, and opportunity to test and experiment to develop their own passions in their subjects. These are the two main root causes for the unconnectedness of performance. The curriculum will be largely helped when we have ready learners and teachers.
Testing is another bigger issue. It has become detached from the core value of assessing the priorities, of what we need to teach. Instead, it has become a dreaded tool to direct funding and it has become a political football of issues that detract from the core issue of learning and teaching. We need a two-prong approach: - Secure funding that we can maximize, and also - Reevaluate how can reconstruct our teaching priorities that match the testing plans. The focus needs to be on a sustained foundation of learning lessons.
This is a two-step approach. First, give them hope. Create the culture of trust and positivity. I see poor children in India, Singapore, and Malaysia first hand when I am delivering my talks. Poverty there is like dormant potential waiting to be ignited into ambition. Those students who study under street lights land here to lead innovation. Poverty and race are barriers only if we fail to inspire and plant hope. When we do, the results are impressive. Students start out to reach their potential. The far exceed achievements that anyone thought possible.

Role model success. Show them examples of rising from nothing to towering over hurdles. Allow all voices from all people to manifest. Role model respect for teachers, administrators, coaches, and indeed parents. Shift the culture. Enrich the soil where our students live in their minds. We are spending money on buildings and facilities. That's good investing in students sense of goodness and potential will give better results.
Background As part of the BVSD community, I wish to serve the district to promote and further educational progress. As a parent of recent BVSD graduates and a spouse of a BVSD teacher, I have received the benefits of the district’s efforts and commitments. It is now time to give back for future students, teachers, and community supporters. Running for the school board allows me to use my professional abilities as an engineer to carefully evaluate complex issues in order to ensure that every child in BVSD receives an outstanding education, that teachers and staff are well supported, and that taxpayer funds are used appropriately. My overall priority as a school board member is to reflect the community’s diverse values towards providing students with a quality education and teachers and staff with a fulfilling work environment. I am not focused on a single ideological issue or interest, but will promote a balanced approach for priorities such as: • A safe, stable leaning environment • Teacher, parent, and community engagement in the search for a new superintendent • District-wide comprehensive curriculum providing multiple opportunities in academics and arts • Consensus among board members in reaching board decisions. I grew up in Fort Collins, CO and attended K-12 public schools in the Poudre School District. For BVSD, I have been a parent volunteer at Mesa Elementary and Southern Hills Middle School (field trip chaperone, science fair, fundraisers, athletics, etc.). As a musician, I currently support BVSD performing arts programs as a percussion accompanist and have assisted with student choirs and theater productions at Mesa Elem, Southern Hills MS, Platt MS, Monarch HS, and Fairview HS. Overall, I am a lifelong supporter of public education and neighborhood schools. I have been exposed to the importance of education all my life. My father was a sociology professor for 42 years at Colorado State University, my sister is currently a senior lecturer at Indiana University, and my wife is currently in her 25th year of teaching as a high school choir director (12 of those years in BVSD at Fairview High School). We have two children who attended BVSD in elementary, middle, and high school. Our son graduated from FHS in 2017 and is currently majoring in music education at the University of Northern Colorado (Greeley, CO), and our daughter graduated from FHS in 2016 and is currently majoring in psychology and criminal justice at Gannon University (Erie, PA). Professionally, I am an environmental engineering consultant with Ramboll Environ (Denver, CO) and have over 28 years of experience in water resource management and water quality control. I am a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Colorado and serve as a project manager for industrial/municipal wastewater permitting and regulatory compliance. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University and Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Vanderbilt University. Other professional experience includes leading the Drinking Water Excellence Program for the CO Department of Public Health and Environment. My involvement in local community groups has centered on music performance with Generations Community Choir (Boulder), the Center for Musical Arts (Lafayette), and rockin’ out with the Aristocats (Lafayette). I am a member of Sts. Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church in Boulder. I believe my professional experience and background in engineering project management can translate into the traits necessary for a successful school board member. Specifically, my strengths and talents include: • thinking and solving problems analytically using complex data and information • working in a collaborative project team environment with people of various backgrounds and experience levels • understanding personnel issues and logistics by serving as an employee supervisor • understanding project scope and budget estimation and tracking • clearly communicating project needs and results both orally and in writing • experience with regulatory and legal aspects of project objectives, including policy creation and revision • making supported decisions in a timely manner. As a school board member, I will be committed to investing the time and effort to learn and understand the issues that are important to the BVSD community. This includes listening to and asking questions of students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community members to compile multiple perspectives on concerns/ideas. Further, I believe it is important for school board members not to micro-manage district and school issues and activities, but instead to use and rely on education resources and experts in the field. I desire to work closely as a team with fellow board members to build consensus or defend and communicate opposing viewpoints, all toward serving the community.
Contact e-mail vlachos5@msn.com
Contact phone 303.642.5959
I would like to see BVSD integrate more STEM opportunities for students who are considering other options after graduation besides college. My background as an engineer has reinforced my belief that a strong school curriculum in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is critical to maintain a liveable society for coming generations. In BVSD, the traditional science and math curricula are well developed for many levels of student capabilities and needs. In addition, the Career and Technical Education (CTE) center offers classes and applied programs in such areas as skilled trades, technical sciences, and information technology. The CTE program is another opportunity for students to obtain direct professional development and career readiness outside of college in STEM related areas. I support the continuation and expansion of the CTE program as an additional means to augment the STEM curriculum towards developing scientifically and technically engaged students.
I do not think the testing itself needs changing, however I would promote an emphasis on improving student participation rates in testing assessments to more accurately determine school performance as a whole and as sub groups. Limited testing for all grade levels serves a purpose to gauge student educational development, yet a low student participation rate can affect results in terms of meaningful metrics and information. This is a challenging balance between allowing resources (time) for all students to be tested, yet not inhibiting teachers from conveying their curriculum. Higher participation rates would improve statistical confidence in documenting changes/growth as students progress through their academic careers. It is important to accurately represent student progress in order to set attainable goals for future improvement.
I think the major reason for BVSD achievement gaps is the differences in early education opportunities for students. Children ages 3-5 should have access to preschool and kindergarten to best prepare for their continued education in elementary school and beyond. Due to disparities in family socio-economic situations between white and non-white students, this unfortunately does not always happen and students can often be behind academically and socially when attending school with their peers. Therefore, I believe the issue is not only “closing” the achievement gaps, but trying to prevent them from occurring in the first place. All students should be served “where they are at” in order to improve individual achievement as well as district wide success. If a student is behind during their early schooling, then additional resources such as after school and summer programs can be utilized and should be supported.

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