A dozen residents showed up Wednesday night for a forum for three candidates running for two open seats on the Bayfield School Board.
Peggy Whiteman has three grown sons. She has worked as a teacher, then was a school counselor for 15 years, including a stint at Bayfield High School.
"I want what's best for kids," she said on Tuesday evening.
Daniele Hillyer was elected to the board four years ago and has been a teacher for 17 years. She currently works at Bayfield Early Education Program. She leads the school board's efforts in monitoring state legislation and has two children attending Bayfield Elementary and Bayfield Middle School.
Mark Haeussler is the vice chairman of the Bayfield Middle School Accountability and Advisory Committee and chairman of the district committee. His son attends Bayfield High School. He is the CEO of Alpine Leadership, which provides employee training and executive recruitment services.
Audience members submitted questions to members of the League of Women Voters, which organized the forum, and each candidate answered.
The Bayfield School Board will be hiring a superintendent, who will be hiring two new principals for the elementary schools. What qualities should you seek in the superintendent candidate?
Hillyer said she was on the search committee that hired Superintendent Troy Zabel, who stepped down this spring for health reasons. She said she looks for a candidate who wants to stay in Bayfield and doesn't want to move on in a few years to a larger district. A new superintendent also needs to be familiar with education curriculum and interpreting test data, she added.
Whiteman said she wants to find a superintendent who can move the district forward and can focus on teacher retention.
Haeussler said a superintendent needs to be a strategic thinker who can engage others and move forward with the district's strategic plan.
What would you try to improve or change in the district, or on the board?
Whiteman said retaining high-quality teachers and aligning curricula between the four schools would be her priorities.
Hillyer said continuing to lobby the Colorado Legislature for full funding of schools is key.
"It's being faced all around Colorado," she said. She also would like to see more public participation in school board meetings.
Haeussler said he would like to see improved communication in the district, as well as with parents and other community members.
Why are you running for school board?
Hillyer said she wants to continue advocating for students, as well as teachers, who are "overworked and underpaid." She thinks Bayfield does a good job preparing high school students for college, "but I'd love more vo-tech oriented programs, too."
Haeussler said he as an advocate for open discourse in our society, and a good way to make that happen on the local level is to serve on the school board.
Whiteman re-affirmed her commitment to students in the district and said she will work for their best interests.
What should the district do regarding suicide prevention?
Whiteman said she supports fostering greater rapport with students and staff members. She thinks the district might be able to hire a grant writer to get more funding for counseling positions in all of the schools.
Haeussler said he thinks Bayfield teachers work to have their students balance homework with family time, which is something he appreciates as a father. He hopes to expand the training that principals and staff members get with trained professionals who work in mental health and suicide prevention.
What is the biggest contribution you will make to the school board?
Hillyer said she wants to continue her lobbying efforts and to obtain full state funding for kindergarten. Colorado currently covers only a half-day of kindergarten, the rest is made up by the individual school districts.
Haeussler said he is a great team leader, but also a team member who will listen to other board members and community members. He hopes to find a superintendent with a vision to lead the district.
Whiteman said her training as a counselor has taught her to listen to the concerns of others, and she will work as a board member, not an individual. She also wants to increase parent involvement in the district.