Five candidates are running for three Telluride school board positions in November’s election. All three positions carry a four-year term. The candidates are Dylan Brooks, Cheryl Carstens Miller, Adam S. Chambers, Jenni Ward and Len Metheny. All have had or currently have children in the district. There will be a candidate forum Oct. 28 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Palm Theater. The following evening, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m., all five candidates will be featured guests on KOTO’s public affairs program Off the Record. Here candidates answer Daily Planet questions in their own words.
Brooks, who runs a financial planning business in town, grew up in Telluride, graduated from Telluride High School in 1989 and moved back to the area to start his own family in 2001.
Long-term issues/goals: Not all students need to be college- focused. We must broaden definitions of success. Need to staff and budget for a student population that is no longer growing at a fast 5-plus percent annual rate.
Short-term issues/goals: Address traffic flow issues and reduce epidemic usage of vape products by students. Integrate dual language learning into the secondary school in a cost-effective way.
In what ways does this district excel: Provides excellent education, placing college-interested students in top programs that match their interests. Tests well,
and most high school students take multiple Advanced Placement classes. Safe school with a positive learning environment.
What sets you apart as a candidate? Long history with the school district: As a K-12 student, parent and, for the last two years, as a school board member who understands complex budget.
CHERLY CARSTENS MILLER
Miller, a philanthropist who works in real estate investment and management, moved to Telluride in 1987.
Long-term issues/goals: Work on a transition in educational needs from 20th century (regimentation) to 21st century (problem solving).
Short-term issues/goals: Maintaining culture of excellence and keep evaluation system for teachers as a growth model instead of punitive.
In what ways does this district excel: Setting high academic standards for our students with a high graduation rate and admittance to higher education.
How can the district improve: There’s more to do to make a quality education available to all students, notably, in technological and vocational learning.
What sets you apart as a candidate: Six years experience as a school board member; four years as a Colorado Association of School Board director; four years on the Uncompaghre Board of Cooperative Educational Services (two as president); founding member of Early Childhood Council Advisory Panel. Has already participated in two district superintendent searches.
ADAM S. CHAMBERS
Prior to moving to Telluride full-time in 2016, Chambers, a climate scientist, and his family lived in Austria, Kentucky, and Portland, Oregon.
Long-term issues/goals: Wants the best for all of our community’s children, and supports open and transparent decision making.
Short-term issues/goals: Search for a superintendent is top-of-mind involving staff, parents, citizens and, yes, students in the selection process.
In what ways does this district excel: We are one community and can leverage common strengths to build an unrivaled district.
How can the district improve: A “chronic optimist,” he wants to make “a great thing a little better” for all children.
What sets you apart as a candidate: Attended public schools since kindergarten. After earning his bachelor’s degree, Chambers attended Yale for graduate school and earned a doctorate while living in Vienna, Austria.
A licensed realtor for the past 10 years, Ward moved to Telluride in 2001.
Long- and short-term issues/ goals: Continue creative programming for a variety of learners while increasing social/emotional and mental health support as needed. Offer competitive salaries and affordable housing to attract/retain teachers and staff in spite of less money from the state.
In what ways does this district excel: Diverse and creative programming (AP courses, dual immersion, AVID). Maintains low student to teacher ratios and a strong relationship with the community who has supported us with votes. Produces high achieving learners who attend impressive institutions of higher learning.
How can the district improve: Offer more vocational and alternatives to the college track for students wanting to master skills for a post-graduation career. Educate students and families about the risks and effects of vaping.
What sets you apart as a candidate: Served on the school board for the past four years. Was a teacher in 3rd-12th grades on Front Range and locally. Actively participates in TES and TIS monthly accountability meetings.
A life-long entrepreneur and EdTech specialist in the area of high school to college transitions, Metheny moved to Telluride from London in 2010 and now works as a consultant with startups and EdTechs.
Long-term issues/goals: Develop strategic plans to help district excel with Colorado’s 2020 standards.
Short-term issues/goals: Recruiting and hiring new superintendent and creating smooth transition for the new hire. In what ways does this district excel: With almost 90 percent of THS graduates attending four year colleges and another 5 percent off to community colleges or trade schools, district does an excellent job of creating value and preparing students for next steps.
What sets you apart as a candidate: Thirty years working in the education field, including on education committees for the U.S Department of Education.