Six candidates are operating for a few open faculty board seats in the 8,000-college student Westminster district’s to start with contested board election in six many years.
Just one incumbent, Christine Martinez, is jogging for reelection. Two other people, board President Ken Cianco and Vice President Max Math, are expression-limited and are not working. That indicates voters will elect at minimum two and probably a few newcomers to the 5-member board in the Nov. 7 election.
Martinez has joined with candidates Audrey Yanos and Mary Beth Murphy to run as a slate that has the backing of the district’s instructors union. Generally, they say the district is headed in the appropriate course and need to continue to be the class.
The other a few candidates — Anthony Sisneros and partner-and-wife group Charles and Brenda Gallegos — are also jogging as a slate. They are searching for modifications, together with to improve university student achievement and produce much more prospects for mother and father to be heard and get involved.
Westminster’s board members are elected on an “at large” basis, which means candidates stand for the total school district, not one particular precise region. The top rated three vote-getters will acquire seats.
The board race arrives at a time of transition for the suburban school district north of Denver, with longtime Superintendent Pamela Swanson set to leave her post at the stop of the faculty yr. It’s unclear if the present-day board will identify a successor in advance of the election or leave the selection to the new board.
Like quite a few Colorado districts, Westminster is also facing declining enrollment as beginning rates drop and pricey housing pushes extra family members outside the metro space. Concerning 2016 and 2021, the district dropped more than 1,400 pupils — a 15% drop.
The League of Girls Voters has tentatively scheduled a college board applicant forum at 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at Westminster Grange Corridor, 3935 W. 73rd Ave. The district ideas to livestream the celebration.
Here’s a nearer search at the six candidates:
ABC for WPS Slate
Brenda Gallegos describes herself as a concerned dad or mum, not a politician. She mentioned it’s time for a college board with new voices and extra debate. Currently, “I really feel like we’re variety of spinning our tires in mud,” she reported. “We have the identical individuals. We have the identical suggestions.”
Gallegos, who performs at a eyesight clinic, has a few daughters and 1 son. Two of her daughters go to faculty in the district. Growing college safety is just one of her priorities. She reported she would like to have faculty resource officers placed at the district’s K-8 schools and to guarantee a lot more oversight of faculty hallways and collecting places by officers at the district’s superior educational institutions.
Like other customers of her slate, Gallegos claimed she wishes to ensure that the district listens to and requires mothers and fathers. When 1 of her daughters struggled with looking through in elementary school, she explained Westminster educators dismissed her concerns, prompting her to transfer her daughter briefly to the neighboring Jeffco district, in which the lady was analyzed and supplied a unique education approach.
As a Spanish speaker, Gallegos reported she could serve as a liaison among the board and Spanish-speaking dad and mom in the district.
“It takes a village,” she mentioned. “Let’s use our village.”
Charles Gallegos said enhancing university student achievement and increasing guardian engagement are his primary reasons for operating for university board.
An optometrist and navy veteran, he graduated from Westminster Higher Faculty and was the first in his household to attend school. He has a few daughters and a person son. Two of his daughters show up at district faculties.
He stated he supports the district’s competency-dependent procedure, in which pupils grasp a topic before transferring to the future a person, but mentioned much too several college students are nonetheless battling.
“If you are a mum or dad and (you) Google overall performance, you are heading to see some scores that are truly, seriously undesirable, frustratingly undesirable,” he explained. “Why are there however so quite a few pupils at the bottom?”
Gallegos reported he would like to assistance construct stronger father or mother instructor corporations throughout the district. Correct now, he reported it’s “hit and pass up,” with robust PTAs at some educational facilities and scarcely operating teams at other faculties.
Anthony Sisneros is building his next run for a faculty board seat, following a decline in 2011. He said if he’s elected, he’ll find to assure that college students with disabilities get the exact same faculty options as other college students and will force for a nationwide search to choose the subsequent superintendent.
A Westminster Superior University graduate, Sisneros is the assistant controller at the MSU Denver Basis. He has 3 children, together with a son with Down syndrome who was at the center of a grievance submitted by the Sisneros family versus the district soon after the boy was denied placement at the family’s preferred college. The U.S. Office of Education’s Business office of Civil Rights ruled in favor of the district in December 2022, but Sisneros explained his family has appealed the selection. In the meantime, the son attends a non-public school.
“Through all these complications of hoping to discover a school for my son, I could have quickly set up a for sale signal and moved,” he stated. “I’m right here to battle for the little ones and families that glimpse like mine.”
Sisneros mentioned that if he’s elected, he desires to near a policy loophole that he alleges has permitted a recent board member who is an architect to receive beneficial district contracts. He described it as a conflict of curiosity.
District officers reported the district has complied with board policies in awarding contracts to DAO Architecture, which board member Dan Orecchio owns. They also mentioned Orecchio has recused himself from votes on contracts with his firm and filed a conflict of curiosity disclosure with the Colorado Secretary of State’s place of work declaring that he planned to keep on doing organization with the district after his election.
MMY for WPS Slate
Christine Martinez, the incumbent, stated she’s functioning once again to continue on the work begun throughout her initial phrase, including supporting the district get well from COVID and choosing a new superintendent. She stated she’s very pleased of the board’s choice soon soon after COVID strike to bring pupils back for in-particular person learning at the starting of the 2020-21 faculty calendar year.
The vice president of a regional assets management business, Martinez is a Westminster Significant School graduate, the daughter of two retired district teachers, and the mom of a seventh-grade son who attends college in the district.
Martinez stated she desires to promote and share the a lot of optimistic things that are heading on in district educational facilities. She cited a current vacation to South Korea by district large-schoolers collaborating in a “drone soccer” match, a NASA partnership with aerospace and film pupils, and the planned transformation of a previous middle university into a vocation and technical education hub.
Martinez sees declining enrollment as the most important problem struggling with the district. She explained it’s important to bring back again students who have remaining and to recruit new ones as perfectly.
Mary Beth Murphy is a retired teacher who explained she’s not coming in with a certain agenda other than to assure students get the most effective totally free public instruction doable.
“I’m not offended about everything,” she said. “I’m not working on a grievance marketing campaign. I genuinely think in general public education and learning. Which is what I’ve devoted my lifestyle to.”
Murphy is the director of the Central Adams UniServ Unit, an organization that supports 4 regional instructors unions. She retired last year just after more than 30 several years in the Mapleton district, most not too long ago as a math trainer. She has four adult kids, two of whom attended educational institutions in the Westminster district.
Shortfalls in university funding and instructor shortages are amid the most important worries experiencing the Westminster district, she stated.
Murphy reported has not thought substantially about the collection of a new superintendent, but claimed she hopes for an individual who is a superior chief and communicator, truthful and upfront.
Audrey Yanos claimed as a Chicana who was the initially in her family members to finish significant college and go to school, she represents the community.
“I know what path our students are going for walks in,” she explained.
Yanos, an functions supervisor at a healthcare nonprofit, attended K-12 educational institutions in the nearby Adams 12 and Adams 14 districts. She has a few young children in Westminster schools — a person each individual in elementary, center, and substantial university. She volunteered on a committee supporting a 2018 faculty district tax evaluate and has been active in the PTAs at her children’s universities.
”I like our university district,” she claimed. “We’ve experienced these kinds of favourable experiences in just our college district, and that is at each individual amount.”
If elected, she would like to carry on educating the local community about the district’s competency-based program, in which college students are grouped by what articles they’ve mastered, not automatically by grade.
Yanos said the district is headed in the appropriate path and that its most significant challenge is the transition that will come with acquiring a new superintendent.
Ann Schimke is a senior reporter at Chalkbeat, masking early childhood issues and early literacy. Contact Ann at [email protected].
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