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Bennett School District 29J Director At Large {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

School Director at Large. Four year term. Vote for three.

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  • Nancy Barden

  • Debra Brunner

  • Amy Kirkwood

  • Dennis E. Smialek

  • Melissa Walkup

Biographical Information

1. How would you prioritize spending in light of increased or decreased revenues in your school district?

2. What are two of your greatest concerns in your school district over the next four years and how would you address them?

3. Describe your style of conflict resolution.

The decrease in funds has definitely devastated our district. Spending is prioritized in the following order: safety, classroom educational programs, teacher/staff retention, facility needs.
Number one concern is the impending residential growth in our district and the impact it will have on our district. Number two concern is teacher retention. If we do not find and retain quality staff, then education is affected.
Communication and discussion are always the way to resolve conflict. People can disagree but must maintain a level of civility in their conflict resolution process.
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Background I am a small business owner, who previously served on the Bennett School Board from 2008 to 2017. I currently serve on the Bennett/Watkins Fire District Board. I am also a former teacher. My husband and I moved to the district in 2005. I have lived in Colorado since 1976. I have 3 children and 10 grandchildren. None of my grandchildren live in the district, I have proven myself to be fair and honest. I am experienced in conflict resolution and consider it a strong point. I am running for the board again because I believe my past experience will help the district navigate the issues we face.
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One of the top priorities of our school district is managing growth. We must work tirelessly to plan for facilities and staff to educate the increasing number of students who will be attending here. We also need to manage our transportation so students are not left to walk to school across busy highways. Our incoming revenues are at a good level right now but must be managed to maximize each dollar. Current staff received a 10.75% raise this year. Retaining and recruiting can be difficult in a semi rural district like ours. Offering fair wages and excellent benefits is a major way to do this. Every district is at the mercy of the state and possible funding cuts loom over head annually. It makes budget planning difficult at times.
1) Growth 2) Staff Retention

Growth is not easy to handle when faced with building new facilities. The district must work with the town and the developers to ensure potential building sites and funding. Approving the mill levy override on the ballot this election will certainly help with that. We will need and want constituent involvement in the planning and design phases. Staff retention has been an issue for all rural districts. Thankfully we are close to the metro area that the drive is palatable. However, with the new housing developments being built here it may help with easing that burden. Keeping wages competitive with other districts of similar size should help too. Maintaining an atmosphere where they not only can enjoy working but feel supported and valued is key.
Simply put, working towards consensus. It can be difficult to get people to agree on issues if they feel their opinion is not valued. Giving people the opportunity to be heard and agreeing on where we need to be will help bring people to a a point where they can start to agree. In the end, we each will probably need to concede from time to time in order to achieve the best result possible for the district.
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