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Colorado Springs 11 Board Candidate Survey
Q1 - Do you support a parent’s right to choose the public school they feel is the best fit for their child? Why or why not?

Dan Ajamian:  Absolutely. Parents know their children best and should therefore have the option of sending their children to the quality school of their choice. Parents have ultimate authority over how and what their children learn.

 

Nora Brown:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

   

Darleen Daniels:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

    
Timothy Gore:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Karla Heard-Price:  Yes, choice provides families with an opportunity for great student success.

  
Martin Herrera:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Wayne Hutchison:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  

Jeff Kemp:  Yes. We are a charter school family, James Irwin Charter Academy, and I serve on it's board (VP). Why? Because as parents one of our "jobs" is to be responsible to the task of educating our children. To that end it's our responsibility to vet and select the best options that would see our children succeed in their k-12 education. Like vehicles, skis and beer, education has evolved. The one shoe for every person reality of "yesterday" is no longer the only option, why would I require you to educate your child the way I see fit? They are your children, you know them best, you are responsible to engage in the education process. Why wouldn't I encourage that? Why wouldn't we take advantage of all that we have learned and is available to ensure the highest quality of education opportunities for our children; both mine and yours? Bottom line: it's not just a parents right to choose, it's a parents responsibility to choose wisely.

 

Elaine Naleski:  Yes, I chose my children's schools and now I help choose my grandchildren's. Colorado parents and guardians are fortunate to have this choice.

  
Theresa Null:  Yes, I support a parent's right to choose the best school for their child. Each school has a culture, number of students, and focus etc. just like each child is different than another child.

  


Q2 - Which of the following describes your familiarity with charter schools? (Select all that apply).
Dan Ajamian:  I can name one or more charter schools in Colorado. I know someone who works at a charter school in Colorado. I know a student who attends a charter school in Colorado. I have heard the term “charter school.” I attended one of the first four K-8 charter schools in Colorado (CMCA), I am an academic dean at a charter school (CECDC), and I am a board member at yet another charter school (CSCA).

 

Nora Brown:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

   

Darleen Daniels:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

    
Timothy Gore:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Karla Heard-Price:  I can name one or more charter schools in Colorado. I know someone who works at a charter school in Colorado. I know a student who attends a charter school in Colorado. I have heard the term “charter school.”

  
Martin Herrera:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Wayne Hutchison:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

 

Jeff Kemp:  I can name one or more charter schools in Colorado. I know someone who works at a charter school in Colorado. I know a student who attends a charter school in Colorado. I have heard the term “charter school.” Our children (2) attend JICA and I serve on the board as Vice President.


Elaine Naleski:  I can name one or more charter schools in Colorado. I know someone who works at a charter school in Colorado. I know a student who attends a charter school in Colorado. I have heard the term “charter school.”

  
Theresa Null:  I can name one or more charter schools in Colorado. I know someone who works at a charter school in Colorado. I know a student who attends a charter school in Colorado. I have heard the term “charter school.”

 


Q3 - Which of the following best describes your level of support or opposition toward charter schools in Colorado?

Dan Ajamian:  Strongly support. I support charter schools under two conditions: (1) they are held accountable to high standards, and (2) they are introduced into a community in a way that is mindful of their impact on surrounding schools.

 

Nora Brown:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

   

Darleen Daniels:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

    
Timothy Gore:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Karla Heard-Price:  Strongly support.

  
Martin Herrera:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Wayne Hutchison:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

 

Jeff Kemp:  Strongly support. Again, our family is a charter school family. However, "charter school" doesn't get a rubber stamp of approval. There are many charter schools that have done a disservice to children either through failing to offer high standards of academic excellence or by failing to remain effectively managed or both. It's imperative that all institutions that seek to educate our children are vetted to a high standard to help ensure both the best opportunities of academic success as well as remaining effectively managed in order to prevent avoidable disruption of their academic careers.  


Elaine Naleski:  Somewhat support. I support choice and the creation of charter schools to offer something new and different, but I do not like the funding mechanism.

  
Theresa Null:  Somewhat support.

 


Q4 - In your view, what role should charter schools play in providing parents and students choice in their public school options?

Dan Ajamian:  Parents and students should have quality school options to choose from. Strong charter schools increase the range of educational options available to families.

 

Nora Brown:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

   

Darleen Daniels:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

    
Timothy Gore:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Karla Heard-Price:  Charter schools can provide students with strong learning opportunities based on their passions and interests.

  
Martin Herrera:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Wayne Hutchison:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

 

Jeff Kemp:  Why not turn to the original Charter School Act? The Charter Act directed and empowered us "to take responsible risks and create new, innovative, more flexible ways of educating all children within the public school system." Further The act seeks the creation of schools with "high, rigorous standards for pupil performance, " with special emphasis on expanded opportunities for low-achieving students (http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdechart/chintro). I believe that sums it up pretty well.


Elaine Naleski:  Awareness. Charter schools should make parents and students aware of their strengths, weaknesses, and what makes them unique.

  
Theresa Null:  Here, in D11, charter schools have filled the gap when public schools have closed. Charter schools have challenged public schools to improve their curriculum, delivery and diversity. I think charter schools will continue to improvise, compete and work with the traditional public school system.

 


Q5 - In your view, do charter schools help improve educational opportunities for all public school students or do they negatively impact the educational opportunities for students in traditional public schools?

Dan Ajamian:  Good charter schools provide more quality options for students and families, so yes, they help improve educational *opportunities* for all public school students. Of course, this isn't a black and white answer, and there are many factors involved. The introduction of new quality school options should be done meaningfully, and any potential loss of students in surrounding schools must be handled well.

 

Nora Brown:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

   

Darleen Daniels:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

    
Timothy Gore:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Karla Heard-Price:  Charter schools improve opportunities for all students.

  
Martin Herrera:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Wayne Hutchison:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

 

Jeff Kemp:  The spirit of innovation and the results of the charter reality has clearly positively impacted the educational landscape across Colorado. So much so that traditional public schools have developed similar programs Wasson Academic Campus as well as D49 becoming a District of Innovation are prime examples.

 

Elaine Naleski:  It depends on the charter school.

  
Theresa Null:  I've read about some charter schools in our local district that performed well and some performed poorly. It appeared to me that they were left unchecked and unassisted until after complete failure. I think if school boards and administrators vetted charter schools, assisted, and monitored, then we would not have had the poor performing charter schools.

 


Q6 - Do you support the creation of more charter schools?

Dan Ajamian:  Yes. The new schools have to be quality schools with high standards and accountability. Schools should be rolled out in a way that is mindful of other existing schools.

 

Nora Brown:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

   

Darleen Daniels:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

    
Timothy Gore:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Karla Heard-Price:  Maybe – if there is a strategic growth plan in place.

  
Martin Herrera:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Wayne Hutchison:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

 

Jeff Kemp:  Yes. While I support more school choice options it's imperative that every institution that seeks to educate our communities children are vetted to ensure they are able to do just that. Failing charter schools are no more acceptable than failing "traditional schools". However due to the "hype" surrounding charters, in my opinion, charter advocates bear a greater responsibility (along with district board members) to ensure that another Mosaica debacle doesn't occur. 

 

Elaine Naleski:  Maybe – if there is a strategic growth plan in place.

  
Theresa Null:  Maybe – if there is a strategic growth plan in place. It is my understanding that groups, many times parents, choose to create a charter school. If there is a need that the public school is not addressing or a new method to be "tested," then I would be interested in a new charter school.

 


Q7 - What do you believe is the proper role for a school district and a district board of education to play in relation to the charter schools in their district?

Dan Ajamian:  The district and board of education should look to attract quality charter schools, support quality charter schools, and ensure that quality charter schools currently within the district remain in good standing.

 

Nora Brown:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

   

Darleen Daniels:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

    
Timothy Gore:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Karla Heard-Price:  Depending on how the school is chartered and whether the school receives any distribution of funds from the district, the District Board of Education may play a role, but charter schools generally should have their own governance.

  
Martin Herrera:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Wayne Hutchison:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

 

Jeff Kemp:  One of the primary responsibilities of the district board is to ensure that education opportunities provide students with rigorous, robust, flexible and adaptive education opportunities that meet a student and family "where they are at" in a manner that encourages and requires them to engage. Being responsible to that ethic requires the board to vet any institution that seeks to educate our students to ensure the highest quality of education as well as to ensure  sustainability/viability of the model. Our job is to ensure that all institutions of education enhance the learning opportunities available rather than degrade the districts choices of excellence and cause uncertainty.


Elaine Naleski:  If the district authorizes the charter, then the district and the BOE have an obligation to ensure that the charter is providing the best possible educational experiences for the students. This is no different from any district school.

  
Theresa Null:  The local district Board of Education is responsible for the education of ALL the children within their geographical boundaries. BOE's proper role is to monitor current statuses, step in to help when issues arise, and to vet new charter applicants. To not vet, monitor nor assist would be an abdication of our responsibility to ALL of our children.

 


Q8 - Do you believe districts have a responsibility to equitably include their charter schools in the distribution of local funds related to facilities (bonds) and operational expenses (mill levy overrides)? Why or why not?

Dan Ajamian:  Yes, I do. Districts should not withhold equal funding from quality, high-performing charter schools within their geographical bounds. If quality charter schools educate students in a way that is on par with (or better than) district schools, it would be unfair not to fund those charter schools equally.

 

Nora Brown:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

   

Darleen Daniels:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

    
Timothy Gore:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Karla Heard-Price:  Yes. Families, schools, and communities should not be penalized for a choice they have made in education. The opportunity should exist for success or failure.

  
Martin Herrera:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Wayne Hutchison:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

 

Jeff Kemp:  No. Unless the language of the initiative made it clear charters are to be included. Charter schools are not set up to depend upon "district facility funds" to operate. Nor do most facility initiatives (bonds, mill levies) seek to address the facilities of charter schools. It's a tough reality, but that's reality. We, that is the entirety of the Colorado Springs community, have agreed to construct or have taken on the responsibility (passed down to us) of now maintaining the infrastructure that is the regular district schools. D11 being the largest and not the "newest" district has a compounding problem of an outdated neighborhood school model along with facilities that are extremely expensive to maintain (aging infrastructure). Further, charter schools are also free from other financial realities our regular districts aren't; union teachers and busing for example. There are no easy or cheap solutions to this problem. At the core of our conversations, people that apply themselves to understanding the problem recognize this reality and recognize that first and foremost money raised to improve regular district facilities be used to do just that (integrity, fiduciary responsibility and accountability). If the charter school community deems it necessary or a matter of equability then we need to campaign our community to support us the way they intrinsically support our traditional district facilities. If we are successful, then a mill levy or bond won't get passed unless it includes all public schools, not just the regular district public schools. The reality is this issue is about money (taxes), perception, a tight-fisted tax opposed community and our responsibility to our community. We don't get a "free" ride. We too need to put in the work to get such initiatives passed and we need to build working relationships with our regular district administrators and boards to ensure the charter community gets an equitable seat at that table before we assert the districts have responsibilities they didn't agree to. A likely effect of asserting such "responsibility" on the regular district is fewer charters being authorized through the regular district as that would require the pool of funds to be spread even thinner. As a result a charter would have to rely on CSI for their authorization to which you again wouldn't be entitled to any of the facility funds. Build solid working relationships first, prove the charters value to the district (community), mitigate the fears of being a threat and then seek ways to improve our funding realities. I do believe that since these initiatives are in effect for many years that it's reasonable for charters to be added to the "recipients list" should the environment allow. Personally I would rather the "taxes" I agree to pay be spent on the school that our children attend, in our case a charter. The reality is charter schools have not fully assimilated into the common understanding of the public school system.


Elaine Naleski:  I do, if they are chartered by the district. The charter is a public school and funds raised from bonds and mill levy overrides need to be distributed to them, also. The students who attend district authorized charter schools are our students.

  
Theresa Null:  If such language is in the contract between the charter school and school district, yes. If not and a bond or MLO is put forth, then the two entities should negotiate terms.

 


Q9 - Please feel free to provide any additional comments or viewpoints regarding school choice and charter schools in the state of Colorado that you were not able to cover in your responses above.

Dan Ajamian:  The introduction of charter schools to Colorado over the last 20 years has changed the face of education in this state for the better. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all charter schools are equal. Districts should be intentional in approving quality charter schools.

 

Nora Brown:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

   

Darleen Daniels:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

    
Timothy Gore:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Karla Heard-Price:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Martin Herrera:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Wayne Hutchison:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

 

Jeff Kemp:  The charter school movement in Colorado has matured greatly in 20 years. Colorado is one of the best charter school states, our innovation has demonstrated real time results of high academic achievement and student success. Personally I believe its time to take the next step in maturity. Set, enforce and maintain high expectations  and standards for charters. Build strong collaborative relationships with the regular districts marked by an ethic of whats best for students and community. I believe D11 is uniquely poised to foster the evolution of effective choice for all students, whether they wish to attend a charter or a regular district school that embraces innovation. Public education efforts as a whole have struggled to get students and parents to engage in the education process which affects the level of engagement of our teachers. Schools of choice, regardless of flavor, have provided valuable lessons in that engagement endeavor. Further schools of choice have vetted a variety of educational delivery methods and provide examples of systems that can be replicated and/or tweaked to fit varying student bodies. Actions speak louder than words. Results speak louder than actions. It's time to employ the wealth of knowledge we've learned over the last 20 years from the experiment that is Schools of Choice.  


Elaine Naleski:  I would like to see the funding mechanism be corrected for districts like D11, so that we could authorize a school without the funding be more than non-charters receive. This would allow the BOE to authorize more schools with the public feeling they are taking funds from the other schools.

  
Theresa Null:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question. 

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