Compiled by Gwen Clayton
Director District 1
Who: Brad Rupert; Jefferson County School Board, District 1; I am an attorney in private practice; I have lived in Jefferson County for 33 years; my children are Jeffco graduates.
Public Office: I have served on the Jefferson County Board of Education for two years.
Volunteer: Habitat for Humanity volunteer since 1994. President, Arvada Chamber of Commerce 2002, Board six years. President, Arvada Community Food Bank four years, Board eight years. President, A-J Kiwanis.
Most Important Issues:
• The ongoing issue is K-12 funding in Colorado has failed to keep up with growth and inflation. Repeated cycles of budget cuts have reduced our ability to attract and retain the best teachers and prevented us from properly maintaining our schools and other facilities. As a District we must continue to improve and deliver on our promise of an excellent education for every child and thereby earn appropriate funding from voters. I am hopeful that voters want and are willing to pay for highly effective schools. We must reform TABOR to allow this to happen.
• We must continue to reduce achievement gaps for children living in poverty. We should provide high quality preschool and kindergarten for all children so all children start their formal education on equal footing. We must improve our family engagement so families can support the work done at school. We must expand alternative career pathways for the majority of graduates who will not be attending college. We can prepare these graduates for the many honorable and lucrative careers that don't require a college degree.
• After many years of cuts, our schools are showing the neglect. We must build capacity in the growing areas of the District while we maintain and renew the facilities we already have an investment in.
Contact: BradforJeffcoKids.com; facebook Brad Rupert for Jeffco Kids; firstname.lastname@example.org; Friends of Brad Rupert, 303-456-1100
Matt Van Gieson
Who: Matt Van Gieson; Jeffco School Board; Systems Engineer. Born in Jeffco and went through Jeffco public schools. I married another A West grad, we have four children ages 7 yrs old to 12 wks.
Public Office: I have not run for public office before.
Volunteer: I have volunteered in our schools providing food and supplies to at risk students. I coach my children’s sports teams and I was the President of our PTO, leading fundraising efforts.
Most Important Issues:
• Jeffco spends a billion dollars a year but only 50% of 3rd graders end the school year reading at grade level. That means every other 4th grader arrives unprepared for fourth grade work. We must do better. I will bring balance to the board, setting achievement goals, and asking tough questions about which programs are working. I will only support spending dollars to help more students succeed.
• I volunteered at Pleasant View and experienced the devastation the school closure caused. We also experienced the anxiety of closure threats at Fitzmorris, our neighborhood school, and Swanson which my wife attended. I do not support closing small schools and splitting communities. We also have enrollment growth in parts of Jeffco and need cost effective solutions for those overcrowded schools.
• Many middle schools don’t have room for 6th graders; adding capacity will cost about $50 million. We may lose teacher who don’t have the certification to teach in middle school. Schools like Manning won’t be able to take as many students per grade. Special needs students will lose a year of services. More elementary schools become “small” and subject to closing. I don’t support moving 6th graders.
Contact: Visit my website: Matt4JeffcoSchoolBoard.com to find links to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Email me at Matt4JeffcoSchoolBoard@gmail.com
Candidate committee: Matt4JeffcoSchoolBoard; Chairperson Brian DeLauro.
Director District 2
Who: I am Susan Harmon and I am running for re-election to the JeffCo School Board in District 2. I own a family law practice in Lakewood. I have spent my career working for families and kids.
Public Office: I am current serving on the JeffCo School Board for District 2
Volunteer: Rooney Ranch Elementary PTA- two years as President; 3 years as 2nd Vice President. I served for two years as the PTA Parent Representative for Elected Officials in my district. More on my website.
Most Important Issues: I decided to run in 2015 to address the loss of teachers in our district, and plan to continue to work to attract/retain more great teachers for our classrooms. When we are planning for the success of future JeffCo students, we must continue to work on creating greater equity in our programs and facilities for all students, while addressing the diverse needs of our student populations. This will continue to be imperative as we look to support facilities in high-growth areas. We need to ensure that all students have opportunities and access to multiple pathways for success, while they are in school, and after graduation. We have increased the supports for mental health in our schools, and need to continue to work on this, as well as focusing on the achievement gaps that continue for our student populations. The board must work to strike the right balance with testing in our schools by making sure we have well-rounded accountability systems, without excessive emphasis on standardized testing. The board must continue, despite differences in opinion, to maintain the civility that has been restored within the board room. I look forward to working on these solutions with the community.
Contact: Friends of Susan Harmon; Campaign Contact Number/Campaign Staff 303 667-9289; www.keepjeffcomovingforward.com; www.susanforjeffcokids.com; email@example.com; www.facebook.com/susan forjeffcokids/.
Who: My name is Erica Shields, and I’m running for Jefferson County School in District I have lived in Littleton a little over 10 years. I am a married mom of four children who have all gone through Jefferson County public schools.
Public Office: I have never been in or run for public office before.
Volunteer: I have volunteered in my children’s schools over the years as a parent mom as well as PTA mom. I have worked with several organizations to help provide everything from food, school supplies, socks, and other items to those in need.
Most Important Issues:
• The most important issues I am hearing from my community are student achievement, the threat of closing schools, and moving 6th graders to middle schools.
• Providing the opportunity for EVERY student in EVERY Jeffco school to succeed is one of the major issues facing Jeffco. Although recent test scores show that Jeffco is doing better than Colorado on the whole, only 50% of Jeffco students are meeting or exceeding state standards. Many students are so far behind academically it is nearly impossible for them to graduate with the skills they will need for college or career. Although test scores don’t paint the picture of a student’s learning or capabilities we need to do a better job investing the billion dollars we spend each year to ensure our students are achieving at a higher level.
• The threats of closing schools is another big issue facing Jeffco families. Far too many communities are concerned and stressed because the board has threatened to close dozens of schools. Placing a school on the potential closure list makes families nervous and often leads to declining enrollment making the school even more vulnerable to closure. Closing a neighborhood school breaks up a community and has devastating effects especially when the school primarily serves low income families.
Contact: Email:Erica@ericaforschoolboard.com; Website: www.ericaforschoolboard.com; Twitter: @EricaFor Kids; FB: @EricaForKids; No committee chairperson.
Director District 5
Ron Mitchell (uncontested)
Who: Ron Mitchell. I am running for District 5 Jeffco School Board. I am a former Jeffco High School Principal, lifelong Jeffco resident, and graduate of Arvada High School.
Public Office: Yes I am currently a Jeffco School Board member.
Volunteer: I have spent my life giving back to the community through educating our children.
Most Important Issues:
• Expanding career pathways for students. Not all students are college bound. By providing vocational, technical, and apprenticeship opportunities to our students, we better prepare our students to thrive in life after school.
• Attracting and retaining quality teachers for every classroom. Quality teachers are simply the key to our success in providing education to our children. There is no single tactic that will achieve this goal, but elevating teachers and the teaching profession to ensure they receive the respect and support of the community is an important step.
• Focusing resources on updating and remodeling our older school buildings to ensure a first-class learning environment for students. Many of our schools were built 30-50 years ago. It is important to protect the investment previous generations made in these facilities.