Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

Colorado Springs School District 11 {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Colorado Springs School District 11 has four open 4-year term School Board Director positions.

Click a candidate icon to find more information about the candidate. To compare two candidates, click the "compare" button. To start over, click a candidate icon.

  • Candidate picture

    MARY COLEMAN

  • Candidate picture

    DARLEEN DANIELS

  • Candidate picture

    JASON JORGENSON

  • Candidate picture

    PARTH MELPAKAM

  • Candidate picture

    VINCENT PUZICK

  • CONNER SARGENT

  • Candidate picture

    JOSEPH SHELTON

  • Candidate picture

    CHRIS WALLIS

Biographical Information

In what ways have you been involved in public schools, and how will you address the most pressing challenges for your district? (100 word limit)

What will you do to ensure equity among schools in your district, accounting for varying needs of students and families? How do you ensure that the district's budget reflects these values? (100 word limit)

How do you balance school choice when encountering the challenges of changing enrollment? (100 word limit)

What role should the arts, STEM, athletics and workforce training play in public education, and how do you balance their funding?

How will you balance meeting the academic needs of students, and also meet their emotional/social/safety needs?

Background In 2016 I was appointed to the Colorado Springs School District 11 Board of Education. In 2017, I was formally elected by the community to complete the remainder of my term. What began as an effort to volunteer close to my children grew into a clear passion and direction for enhancing our community and the students whose lives are touched every day by public education. It became evident to me fairly quickly that, while complex and flawed, public education is filled to the brim with potential and people who love their work. I have never seen so many individuals driven to serve a mission that, quite literally, can change the world. So much hangs in the balance for District 11. We have the momentum to leverage a movement focused on seeing and hearing ALL kids, energizing our educators, teaching students how to actively pursue learning that challenges them to grow, and to build a society of motivated individuals who will profoundly impact our world in ways we can’t begin to forecast today. I am running for the school board to see through a momentum that I helped start. During my term on the board I have helped a team of leaders move the district ahead on a bold path that will make the system better at doing what it’s meant to do - care for and educate the next generation. I am intent on seeing through what I started. We must build a system of high achievement, college/career/life readiness, encouraging support that is accountable.
Contact phone 719-502-5485
I am a parent of incredible children who attend D11 and I have served as a board member for three years.

We have the momentum to leverage a movement focused on seeing and hearing ALL kids, energizing our educators, teaching students how to actively pursue learning that challenges them to grow, and to build a society of motivated individuals who will profoundly impact our world in ways we can’t begin to forecast today.

I am intent on leading down a bold path that will make the system better at doing what it’s meant to do - educate the next generation.
Equity means providing all children the resources, support, and high-quality education experience that challenges them to be their personal best.

The board must ensure our resources are being equitably distributed across the district to meet our goal of providing all children with the very best opportunities. For instance, in the space of Gifted and Talented. D11 offers the best programs, but they are contained at specific schools. If parents don’t have transportation, kids often go underserved. In order to offer an equitable system, we must explore offering transportation services to all students who qualify for Gifted and Talented services.

Parents will always know what’s best for their children. The only way to counter the challenge of parent choice, which can impact declining enrollment in the district, we must ensure that D11 is always the best and most viable choice for parents making one of the most important decisions in the lives of their children.
The arts, STEM, workforce training, and athletics all play a pivotal role in public education. We must teach our students to be well-rounded, so they approach the world through the angle of creativity and curiosity. No matter the field they become employed in eventually, exposure to a variety of subjects and extracurriculars enrich the learning experience. Additionally, offering these programs at a very high quality contributes to D11 being the best choice in Colorado Springs.
We must provide an environment where students are encouraged to do their personal best. Our academic offerings must be rigorous, comprehensive, and should be relevant to real lives of our students whenever possible. We must show them they can achieve anything, because overwhelmingly they will. Along with rigor must come a nurturing environment. We are most successful when our students understand their role in academic achievement and understand that focus on academics comes with supporting the whole child. Academic success is an important piece of success, but is not the sole metric of achievement.
Background I am a New Orleans Public School graduate. I have lived in Colorado since 1998. My family began in Denver, Colorado. We moved to Colorado Springs in September 2011. My primary responsibility upon arriving was motherhood, raising my four young men. I have one graduate of D11, a junior and a 6th and 7th grader in D11. In 2017 I chose substitute teaching for flexibility and continued involvement in the schools. I have listed below various trainings, volunteering and committees in Colorado Springs I have participated in. Each opportunity has developed and sharpened my skills for community engagement, networking and leadership. Board Member: Women to Women Mentoring Board Member: Colorado Springs Black Chamber of Commerce CO Founder: Thrive Colorado Springs El Pomar Emerging Leaders Development Program El Pomar Black Advisory Council Graduate Class 2012: Leadership Pikes Peak Women Community Leadership Initiative (WCLI) District 11 Accountability Committee Sub Committee District Accountability Committee Accreditation Sub Committee of DAC: School Accountability Committee Training Co-Chair Martinez Elementary School Accountability Committee District 11 Special Education Advisory Council Daylily Society Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Icehouse Entrepreneurial Graduate Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Next Level Graduate El Pomar Board Governance Training El Pomar Leadership Plenty Training El Pomar College Readiness and Success Program, Ambassador UCCS Pre-Collegiate Development Program, Ambassador Leadership Pikes Peak Women Community Leadership Initiative (WCLI) Steering Committee Step Up to Success Networking Group Pueblo Business Women Networking Group Diversity University Training Business Network International (BNI) Member and Ambassador Rodan + Fields Consultant
Contact e-mail darleendaniels@gmail.com
Contact phone 719-264-1393
I have a heart for service to the Colorado Springs community especially after participating in the D11 Leadership Classes, D11 District Accountability Committee (DAC), D11 School Accountability Committee (SAC), and substitute teaching for two years and a as parent with four children educated in D11. I will address the most pressing challenges in my district through building rapport with the Superintendent, incumbent board members, teachers, staff, students, janitors, etc. and doing what’s best for public education in Colorado Springs School District 11.
Colorado Springs School District 11 held World Cafés, conducted student and staff surveys, composed committees, for community members, parents, students, educators, staff, and Colorado Springs at large asking, “How can we work together for excellence in education?” As a participant in several World Cafés, surveys and committees, I will continue my partnership with the district and Colorado Springs community. We all constructed the strategic plan, mission statement and plan for equity developed in 2018-2019 school year for the future of District 11.
Balance is attained as we honor parent and student choices and demonstrate support. The District's responsibility is ensuring a comprehensive education where students are safe; there are open lines of communication between student, parent and educator; and our families are supported. We must honor families' choices when they seek specific programs. When families choose to enroll outside D11 we should strive to provide offerings that will meet their needs and keep them enrolled in D11.
I believe it’s currently redefined as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math). STEAM, workforce training and athletics have a significant place in public education. District 11 has and will continue to make great strides in all these areas for student growth, development and achievement. District 11 is the only area district offering a music program in all its schools. Funding is top priority for the district, for all aspects of public education. Ballot issue Proposition CC, once passed, should assist in better funding of education, transportation and roads.
The social/emotional/safety needs of students and educators, staff, etc. are at the forefront of D11. Our Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) services are consistently evaluating and assessing student’s emotional/social/safety needs for optimal response to whole student learning and well being. Community resources are also offered for our students, educators, staff, etc., district wide when crisis arises.
Background Jason was born and raised in Colorado Springs, attending Carver Elementary School, Sabin Middle School, and graduating from Doherty High School in 2003. He obtained a Bachelors degree in Biology and Chemistry from UCCS in 2007, and a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction in December of 2010. He was a middle school science teacher in Harrison School District Two for 10 years and served in many leadership capacities at the school and district levels, including the District Advisory Committee (DAC). Jason recently left teaching to spend more time with his two children and to pursue his passion in financial services and retirement planning. He has been married to his amazing wife Tiffany for over nine years and they currently have two children: a 2.5 year old son and a 6 month old daughter. Jason spends his free time mountain biking, camping and spending as much time with his family as possible!
Contact phone 719-360-1295
I’ve taught in public education for 10 years, leaving the classroom in May of 2019. I taught in Harrison school District 2 for those 10 years and saw many changes as a Colorado Springs resident and as a teacher. One of the most pressing challenges for D11 is our declining enrollment. To address this, we have begun and will continue rebuilding a culture among our district and schools that promotes a safe, empowering environment, where children, staff and parents are all supported.
There can be stark differences between D11 schools when comparing their geographic and demographic location in the city. Every school supports a different local community and neighborhood, and the resources and budgets spent at each school should reflect that. A community member, parent or resident should be able to walk into any of our schools and see the same value of resources used with specific attention to the needs of that school and be proud. Equity among our schools has already begun with the work of the current board and new superintendent and I will continue this great work once I’m elected.
School choice awakens numerous discussion points for families as they are seeking the best learning environment for their students. Once elected as a board member, we must ask and address the tough questions of why we are losing students to neighboring districts and charters. When we focus on solutions, like effective teacher support, empowering school building cultures, and better instruction for all students, I believe we will see enrollment coming back to our district.
STEM careers are an ever-growing demand for future workforce employment. However, I feel in our push for STEM and college education, we’ve diminished the need and importance of trade jobs and vocational skills. We are already aware of significant workforce shortfalls in many trade jobs as baby boomers retire from these essential jobs like electricians, carpenters, welders, and mechanics, to name a few. Moreover, we’ve removed classes like Home Economics and Economics classes by trying to balance funding. While schools are demanded to do more with less resources, we must pay attention to giving these important components of a child’s education the resources they need to effectively teach our young people. We should be promoting arts, STEM, athletics, and trade jobs in public education, even if it requires some creative funding to accomplish it.
Being in education for 10 years showed me how truly stretched thin our counselors and support staff were. Buildings are often having to use the talents of our counselors and social workers in other capacities to accomplish the mission and objectives of their school. This comes as a detriment to the emotional/social/safety needs of our students. We must allow time and resources for our counselors and social workers to support our students and the diverse needs they have as they arise. When students feel safe and supported, research shows that they are in a better posture for learning and meeting the academic goals that teachers have set for them.
Background My wife and I have been proud to call Colorado Springs our home for the past 20 years. I am originally from India and a passion for higher education brought me to the United States in early 1990s. I have a doctorate degree in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. As an engineer, I fully appreciate the pivotal benefits of a balanced education and its inherent value to create unparalleled opportunities, provide choices, and unleash potential. Teachers and educators have profoundly influenced, nurtured, and guided my professional and personal life. My daughter has attended D11 schools since pre-K and is currently attending a D11 middle school. As a parent, my daughter's and every student’s safety, well-being, and quality of education was the compelling and driving reason I got involved in various school and district committees. As the Chair of the District Accountability Committee for the past two years, I acquired broad insight into the various educational programs offered to our students, the current operations of D11, and the financial realities of our district. My involvement both at the school and district level has helped me better comprehend all aspects of District 11, from budget to curriculum to staffing, which will enable me to hit the ground running if I am elected to the school board. I am passionate about public education, committed to educating the whole student, and have a proven track record of building relationships. My educational background and extensive experience in District 11 makes me uniquely qualified to do the right thing for the entire D11 community.
Contact e-mail melpakam@yahoo.com
Contact phone 719-301-9119
As Chair of the District Accountability Committee (DAC), I have a proven track record of engaging the entire D11 community and building relationships - listening respectfully, communicating effectively, collaborating intentionally, and volunteering consistently. I actively served in PTA events and procured a $5,000 grant to start a student Outdoor Learning Center at Scott Elementary. To address declining school improvement, I am committed to putting students first in all critical decisions, providing a quality education for the whole child, promoting a collaborative, welcoming culture in our buildings, and empowering every student to succeed in college, career, and community.
Educational equity and honoring our rich community’s diversity are at the heart of the new D11 strategic plan – Policy AD – which I helped develop as part of the Core Planning Team. We must eliminate disparities based on socioeconomic status, race, and ZIP-code so that our entire learning community, including all students and staff, can participate, excel, and reach their full potential. Each student is an individual with different strengths and needs. I am committed to developing policies and allocating resources to meet each student where they are academically, emotionally and socially to help them succeed.
I support parents’ right to choose the best education to meet their children’s needs. Our challenge is to make D11 the best choice for parents by providing safe and welcoming learning environments, unique and innovative educational programs, and neighborhood schools that are focused on meeting the needs of the whole student. In addition, we must improve graduation rates, lower dropout rates, and close achievement gaps by providing a balanced curriculum with necessary supports and interventions for all students. For me, that means putting students first in all critical decisions.
Arts, STEM, and athletics are vital cogs in a student’s overall growth and development. Collectively they promote skills of creativity, teamwork, discipline, reasoning, resiliency, and responsibility, all of which are essential for success in a rapidly changing world. Through its concurrent and dual enrollment programs, D11 is providing unparalleled opportunities for our high school students to earn career, technical education and early college credits, thereby preparing them to enter the workforce with lucrative jobs or thrive in post-secondary institutions. I will resolutely support expanding these programs while still prioritizing and practicing responsible stewardship of available resources.
My priority is to ensure every child has access to high-quality academic education that inspires the child's curiosity, creativity, and imagination. Academic outcomes are impacted by attendance and behavior issues, critical factors that can be addressed through Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). By integrating SEL and academic data, we can guide conversations, set clear expectations, design data-driven classroom instructions, and fit interventions to meet the needs of every student.

The 2017 Mill Levy Override provided much needed funds to hire additional school counselors, psychologists, nurses, and safety officers. I will advocate to continue the implementation of programs such as the Comprehensive Student Support Model. Building positive relationships in school with trusted adults will promote school connectedness and encourage students to share potential struggles. Student safety is of paramount importance and staff should be trained to recognize and respond to all emergencies.
Background I am a 1975 graduate of Colorado Springs School District 11 having traveled the path from Lincoln Elementary, to North Junior High, and through Palmer High. I graduated from Colorado State in 1981 with a BA in English. I received my MA in Teaching from Stanford University in 1987. In my 32-year career in public education, I had the privilege of being a classroom teacher for 16 years. I have taught college composition at UCCS, high school English and journalism (at Palmer High School), as well as courses in school-to-work programs and developmental English at Pikes Peak Community College. My career path outside of the classroom included serving as Palmer High's first-ever Literacy Resource Teacher and instructional coach. From there, I served for five years as the District 11 Literacy and Language Arts Facilitator. Finally, from 2013-2018, I served as the Colorado Department of Education's Literacy and Language Arts Content Specialist. I am running for the Board of Education because it is important to have the voice of an experienced educator and proven leader on the Board. As one member of a collective body, I hope to influence the conversation, to shape the future discussions, as we move forward with an equitable educational system, staffed with committed professionals, to serve the needs of ALL students in our District 11 schools.
Contact e-mail puzick4d11@gmail.com
I have worked in public education for over 32 years: high school English teacher, literacy coach, district literacy content specialist, and the Literacy/Language Arts Content Specialist for the Colorado Department of Education. I was the announcer for Palmer High's girls basketball team. I have volunteered on Read Across America day and been a judge for District 11's "Slam Poetry" event for high school students. As one individual on the Board, I hope to impact the community conversation by addressing the challenges in an inclusive manner: listening to the concerns of the public, considering the best research on complex issues, and tapping into the expertise of fellow Board members, district staff and administrators, and community stakeholders. It will be important to include multiple voices to increase equitable educational opportunities for ALL students.
The District’s current strategic plan and the Board’s work on developing a policy are important steps to address equity issues in our district. Budget and funding have to be aligned to the values stated in those documents as we make decisions on curriculum and materials, infrastructure, and teacher/staff hiring. We need to ensure that accountability measures are in place to make District policies actionable in the day-to-day work within our schools. Essentially, from a Board member’s perspective, we want to ensure that we remove systemic barriers to equity and move toward policies and practices that give all students access to quality resources, instruction, and educational opportunities. Our mission, vision, and plan should drive the budgetary decisions.
This will be one of the most important questions we resolve in the future. Because of D11’s landlocked environment, this challenge will be one of the most pressing over the next 4-8 years. Part of the answer will be found in how we address the equity issues raised above. We need to look at systemic barriers to equity so that programs and unique opportunities drive school choice rather than perceived disparity in the quality of the schools. Each school should have quality academic programs and extra-curricular opportunities, in essence a unique identity, to keep neighborhood students enrolled as well as provide attractive options for students to attend that school. We need to be responsive to community needs while also ensuring that each school reflects District 11's commitment to delivering quality education.
We need to continue to value the arts, STEM, athletics, and workforce training for a variety of reasons. In considering the “whole child,” an important phrase despite its overuse, we need to understand that a well-rounded, civic-minded graduate is engaged in more than the academic pursuits in the classroom. We need students who are prepared for life beyond high school – whether pursuing a post-graduate degree, a career in the trades, a military path, or entrepreneurial endeavors. We need graduates who can appreciate the arts as an expression of culture, heritage, and history. Secondly, involvement in arts, STEM, athletics, and workforce course work increases student engagement in school and increases their chances of graduating. Finally, we fund what we value. These pursuits cannot be seen as an “add on” or (despite the name) as an “extra"-curricular activity. Because of their importance in our students’ lives, they should not be considered “extra” but, instead, as essential.
Academic needs are met in a broader context of a school’s culture and climate, in a school that is safe physically, emotionally, and socially. Because our students’ academic needs are achieved by the work done in schools on a daily basis, we need to attend to their present realities while preparing them for future success. We need to be proactive in meeting students’ emotional, social, and safety needs by making our schools free of bullying, shaming, and discriminatory language and actions. We need to build partnerships with mental health experts to provide professional development for our staff and resources for our students. Students need to feel connected to the school building and that connection comes from relationships with the classroom teacher, the school counselor, admin, the front office, and building staff. We never know which “caring adult” will be the significant one in a student's life – so every building needs to create a culture that welcomes students into it.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Background Joseph Shelton is a long time friend and supporter of Colorado Springs School District 11, having grown up in the D11 Education System. Joseph was born on September 10, 1996 in Colorado Springs, CO. Joseph's Father was in the U.S. Army causing Joseph to travel the world, until he came to settle in Colorado Springs in September 2001. Joseph has lived his education life in School District 11, attending James Madison Elementary School from grades 1-5, Irving Middle School for 6th Grade, North Middle School for 7-8, and William J. Palmer High School for 9-12, graduating in May 2015. Joseph attended Irving Middle School during the school shut down and was apart of the many progressive students wanting to keep the school open for future generations to attend. Although unsuccessful, Joseph attended Board meetings, protests after school hours, silent protests, meetings with the Superintendent and many other events. Joseph has volunteered numerous of times for School District 11, attending Board Meetings, assisting North Middle School with Holiday Baskets, as well during his Junior year, he was apart of Superintendent Dr. Nick Gledich's Student Sounding Board. Joseph has a lifetime of Community Activities in locations such as Colorado Springs Police Department, Memorial Hospital, Colorado Springs Utilities, and many other locations adding to over 3500 hours of Community Service. Joseph is the founder and current Vice President of Colorado Springs Breaking Boundaries, an LGBTQ+ organization in Colorado Springs. Joseph is currently a Planning Committee Member for the annual Educating Children of Color Conference presented by the Educating Children of Color Inc. (ECOCI). Joseph was the first ever Student Representative volunteer for School District 11 for the ECOCI. Joseph was also the first ever Student Representative on the Board of Directors for the ECOCI. Joseph is the first openly gay person to run for office in El Paso County, CO. Joseph declared his candidacy in February 2019 at Pikes Peak Library District - Penrose Library.
Contact e-mail SheltonforD11@gmail.com
Contact phone 719-290-0440
Twitter @Shelton4D11
I was raised in District 11, attending Madison Elementary and graduating from Palmer High in 2015. During my junior year of high school, I was a representative from Palmer on Superintendent Dr. Nick Gledich’s Student Sounding Board. Since 2009, I have volunteered at North MS helping with their holiday baskets and giving food to families in need during the holiday season. To address the most pressing issues that our district holds, I plan to work and meet with the students, staff and community to find the concerns that they have and work together as a community to support change.
To ensure equity in District 11, I believe we must look at the underlying needs of those in our community. Currently in District 11, we have students who face problems with free and reduced lunch, educational assistance and much more. I believe that in order to help our students succeed, we must take these problems head on. In order to fund programs that support our students, I believe we must allocate funding to make sure our students are being endlessly supported.
A parent should always have full right to choose a school to which their child should attend whether that be private or public. I believe that when a parent pulls a student from the school, we should look at the pressing issues that continue to arise and work with the community at large to make sure that we address the issues and fix the issue so that no other student feels that they must leave school over the issue.
As a former student who went through the musical arts program, I believe that the arts, STEM, athletics and workforce training are very important for the success of students. I believe that we must look at a full budget and allocate funding in order to make sure that these programs are funded for the year.
I believe that in order for students to succeed, we must meet with them and find what their educational and personal needs are to them. By meeting with the students one on one, we give the open chance for them to speak for themselves and show where they stand with open ends of conversation. Having a conversation about their needs, helps students establish where they can go during times of need and support.
Background Perhaps my greatest qualifying experience is that I am a father of a student in the District. I am a Colorado native who is a product of public education. I possess a Bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Denver and a passion for life-long learning. Professionally, I have had the opportunity to be part of a variety of teams, both big and small. I have had the privilege of managing teams as small as 10 and am currently managing a team of over 100. My management style and philosophy is grounded in the idea of service. To me, an effective leader is one that is proficient in removing obstacles from front-line staff so that front-line staff can operate to the height of their potential.
Contact e-mail Chris@chrisford11.com
Contact phone 720-244-6636
Twitter @walltree1
I am a member of the PTA and the School Accountability Committee at my child’s school. I view the most pressing challenges of D11 as ensuring students are 1. offered a world class education across all schools, 2. provided with support to help develop their emotional competency, 3. prepared for the careers of tomorrow. I intend to address these challenges by encouraging educators to implement curriculum that emphasizes Curiosity, Creativity, and Kindness and aligning resources to meet children where they are.
A student’s individuality and the obstacles they face in their day-to-day life should be incorporated into how their education is structured to set them up for the best opportunity to learn. Resource needs vary from school to school and do not remain static. With that in mind, regular assessments and evaluation of effectiveness is necessary when determining resource allocation from school to school.
It is essential that parents have a wide range of options available to them to best suit the needs of their child. A challenge for district 11 is ensuring we provide a world class education that nurtures the whole child and prepares them for the challenges of tomorrow in a manner that shows we are competitively attracting all students in the area to thrive in our public school system. Parents need options but we need to work to ensure public school is a consistently excellent option.
The emphasis of hands-on learning is more important than ever. Activities such as STEM, Art, CTE, and athletics provide a side to learning that is complementary and beneficial to classroom instruction. I would like to see the District get creative in ensuring there is funding available to integrate these areas in schools district-wide. I believe the investment will result in students that are better prepared to thrive in all aspects of their life.
I would like to see Social and Emotional Learning taught in some capacity at each grade level beginning with educational units in Kindergarten. Ensuring that there is a progressive safety net available to high risk students involving teachers, administration, counselors and outside mental health professionals will help protect and promote our most vulnerable youth.