By Chairman Dave Bradford
This November 2, 2021 is the next election in Delta County. This is the regular Biennial (Held every two years) School Board election. Delta County has a single School District for the entire County - Delta County Joint School District 50J. There is also one School Board for the entire County. The Delta County School Board consists of five members, representing five distinct Districts. To ensure equal representation, each District is composed of four of the county voting precincts. For example, District 1 – the Delta area, is composed of Precincts 1-4. Note – while candidates must reside in the District they represent, all voters in the County vote for one candidate on each District. This is a countywide election, just like the Commissioner election. This year the seats for District 1 (the Delta area) and District 5 (Paonia and Crawford area) are open as the current Board members, Ron Germann of Delta and Jan Tuin of the Paonia area, are term-limited.
The qualifications to run for the School Board are the following:
1) Candidates must be registered voters. Any candidate for the School Board must be a registered voter of the overall school district for at least twelve consecutive months prior to the election.
2) A candidate for the School Board must be a resident of the district that he or she seeks to represent (as described in the above paragraph).
3) Any person who has been convicted of a sexual offense against a child is not eligible to be a member of the School Board.
For the two open seats on the School Board, there are six candidates that have applied to run. They are:
1) Shannon Crespin, 13144 F Road, Delta CO.
2) Kristina Hines, 1519 1200 Road, Delta CO.
3) Luke McCrain, 39230 Stewart Mesa Road, Paonia, CO.
4) Nicole Milner, 42549 R25 Road, Paonia, CO.
5) Brian Kopko, 42621 Lamborn Mesa Rd., Paonia, CO.
6) Jennifer McGavin, 42822 Hidden Valley Rd. Paonia, CO.
On Tuesday, September 28, 2021 the Delta County Republican Central Committee held a Forum for School Board Candidates for the Delta County School Board election. Four of the six candidates appeared in person, while two had conflicts and were not able to attend. Candidates Kristina Hines for District 1; Luke McCrain, Nicole Milner and Brian Kopko for District 5 showed up to respond to questions provided by the DCRCC. Candidates Shannon Crespin and Jennifer McGavin responded by providing written answers to the ten questions the DCRCC gave to the candidates.
I served as moderator for the Forum. There were 89 people who registered to attend the event and 64 showed up. We began the Forum by giving the candidates three minutes to introduce themselves and explain why they were running for the School Board. I read candidate Shannon Crespin’s introduction; Sue Whittlesey read candidate Jennifer McGavin’s. Then we moved on to the question and answer portion. The questions DCRCC asked the candidates to respond to were:
1) What is the Role and Responsibility of a School Board Member?
2) What are your areas of concern regarding student achievement in the Delta County School District?
3) What are your thoughts on the current and proposed Delta County School District Budget?
4) What is the role of Delta County Schools in teaching children about topics such as Comprehensive Sex Education, Critical Race Theory, and the 1619 Project as well as other controversial subjects?
5) Have you received any donations or endorsements from any group(s)? If so, what group(s)?
6) What issues do you believe the Delta County School District needs to address in its academic programs and offerings? What changes would you recommend?
7) How can the Board be accessible to the community? To specific community groups?
8) What is the best way to address differences of opinion on the Board or between the Board and the Administration?
9) Is there a particular issue that motivates you to serve on the Delta County School Board? What is it?
10) How much time and effort will you be able to put in to being a School Board member?
The candidates finished responding to the DCRCC questions much earlier than I expected, so we opened the Forum up to questions from the audience. The questions provided by the audience were:
1) What do you think about mandatory masking and vaccine requirements for students and teachers? (Three questions about this – I asked as one question).
2) How would you handle the Covid quarantine policy?
3) If State funding of Delta County education becomes tied to teaching Critical Race Theory are you prepared to find alternative funding?
4) What are you planning to do to help children with minor learning disabilities that do not qualify as special needs or handicapped?
5) Is your role to only support School Administration or be responsible to students and those who put you on the Board?
6) Do you know ”How to teach children, How to Learn”?
7) One of the most contentious votes of the School Board has made in recent times is the reconfiguration of the North Fork High Schools. How would you have voted and why?
8) Can you speak to the importance of class size and the quality of learning?
9) What will you do about Common Core?
10) With the recent increase of teenagers getting into political issues, how will you make sure the morals and ideas our country was created on getting taught correctly and based on the ideas of our founding fathers?
The four candidates who appeared at the Forum responded to questions 1-8. I closed the question and answer period at 8:00 pm, as that was our pre-set time to conclude the Q & A and it was obvious that everyone was getting tired. I have not provided answers to the questions as it would be overly lengthy and as I noted earlier, we video recorded the event. The recording is available for viewing on our website – https://youtu.be/4p1h4v19TUw . If you did not attend the Forum, I encourage you all to take the time to view the recording.
My own assessment of the Forum is that there are some good candidates running for the Delta County School Board. The sincere interest and heart-felt concern of the candidates who appeared at the Forum was palpable. They all appeared to be able to function as part of a group. There were no wild-eyed radicals. I think it will be somewhat of a challenge to determine who to vote for. I am holding off giving my recommendation as we plan to discuss this issue at our next monthly meeting of the DCRCC on October 5th. So if you want to participate in that discussion, attend that meeting at the Surface Creek Community Church at 6:00pm on Tuesday, October 5, 2021. Meeting notice will be emailed to you.
And just to give a summary of how the election will be conducted. The following information is from the Delta County School District website:
October 11-15, 2021 Ballots will be mailed to all active voters.
October 25, 2021 In-person voting begins at the Delta County Courthouse.
November 2, 2021 In-person voting available at the North Fork Annex, in Hotchkiss.
November 2, 2021 Election Day.
Finally, the School District lists another School Board Candidate Forum on Wednesday, October 6, at 6:30-7:30, at Delta Middle School.
Delta County Republican Central Committee Chairman