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Thompson R2-J 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?

Bruce Finger:  Yes, I believe parents best understand the needs of their children and should be able to choose the right school for their child.

  
Tomi Grundvig:  Absolutely. Every child is unique and parents are the experts on their own children, therefore they must have the right to choose which public school fits their child's needs best. 

  
Vance Hansen:  As a parent myself, I believe the parent is the closest to knowing the needs of their child's education. I believe it is critical for parents to have a choice in that education. I myself have experienced this both personally and with my daughter. I struggled in a traditional high school setting. It was not until I found Ferguson High in Loveland that I was able to succeed and graduate. My daughter's first neighborhood school was also not serving her needs. It was our family's ability to choose that allowed us to place her in a school more suited for her individual needs. Offering choice also offers healthy competition. Schools, like any other institution, should always be striving for improvement and excellence. I believe giving families the choice of where to send their children encourages schools to excel.

  
Pam Howard:  Yes I do. Choice makes our schools and communities stronger. 

  
David Levy:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.  

  
Denise Montagu:  Yes, I do. As a parent of three kids, I can tell you they are all very different from one another, and no one knows them as well as my husband and I know them. Therefore, we are best equipped to determine what educational options would work best.

  
Aimie Randall:  Yes, school choice provides opportunity to families. It also helps to find schools that can nurture a child's individual gifting. All children are different; our schools should reflect this truth.

  
Jeffrey Swanty:  Yes. I was on the Thompson School Board in 2003-06 and approved the first Charter School in the District.
    


Q2 - Which of the following describes your familiarity with charter schools? (Select all that apply).

Bruce Finger:  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.

  
Tomi Grundvig:  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.” My children have attended 4 different charter schools in our district and the neighboring district.

  
Vance Hansen:  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.

  
Pam Howard:  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.”

  
David Levy:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.  

  
Denise Montagu:  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 currently serve as the board liaison to one of our charter schools in Thompson.

  
Aimie Randall:  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.”

  
Jeffrey Swanty:  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?

Bruce Finger:  Strongly support.

  
Tomi Grundvig:  Strongly support. We have had amazing experiences with the charter schools our children have attended. Some have met our children's individual needs better than others, but we're grateful for the opportunity to make that choice, and want all parents to have that choice.

  
Vance Hansen:  Strongly support. Charter schools open opportunities for learning that traditional schools can't. Each student has an individual learning style that must be nurtured in order for to provide the best opportunity for academic excellence. Charter schools often provide an expanded set of curriculum as well as non-traditional teaching environments. Not all children are suited for charter schools but having them does provide a choice that I believe parents deserve for the child's education.

  
Pam Howard:  Strongly oppose.

  
David Levy:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.  

  
Denise Montagu:  Somewhat support. I have strong support for parent-driven, charter schools. It's the ones run by private corporations and "chain" schools that I am not sure about. I question whether a corporation can really support what's best for my child over their bottom line, which is profit.

  
Aimie Randall:  Strongly support. I support charter schools, but I feel that transparency is important so that parents understand administrative priorities. Parents should know how the school is funded, the founding entity, and the mission of the school.

  
Jeffrey Swanty:  Strongly support.

 


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

Bruce Finger:  I believe charter schools are very innovative and continue to find new ways to meet the demands of the marketplace. This is very positive in that it provides choices that have not always been available. For example there are charter schools that focus on learning trades and a charter that uses sign language for communication.

  
Tomi Grundvig:  Charter schools work well when they are parent driven and so are able to meet unique local needs. It becomes a real choice for parents when each charter school is unique, focusing on different needs and different principles, in that way, parents can make a choice as to which school fits their child the best.

  
Vance Hansen:  Charter schools allow for additional curriculum options which I believe some students require in order to exceed academically. They also provide non-traditional and innovative teaching options which can help with a student's comprehension of materials. Charter schools have a responsibility to think outside the box to provide expanded educational options to our students.

  
Pam Howard:  It's important for families to have many choices. Charters can play a critical role in offering new programs in school districts.  

  
David Levy:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.  

  
Denise Montagu:  Colorado offers choice throughout the state, in that a parent can select any public school they want their child to attend; and if there's space and the parent can get them there, then they can choose it. The charter schools' role is to offer a high-quality education to their students, just like every other public school.

  
Aimie Randall:  Charter schools should be innovative and responsive to parent input. I would like to see charter schools improve family engagement in neighborhoods that would truly benefit from expanded choices.

  
Jeffrey Swanty:  It another option for parents seeking a choice.

 


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?

Bruce Finger:  I think charter schools raise the level of innovation and thus is a positive for all students.

  
Tomi Grundvig:  I think competition drives service up in every area, schools included. I have seen  in our community that when charter schools enter, the neighborhood schools increase opportunities and innovation.

  
Vance Hansen:  As I have stated in my previous answers, I believe that charter schools are a great way to expand the opportunities available to students. Their ability to innovate with not only curriculum but also in many other was is what makes them an asset to our district.

  
Pam Howard:  When Charter schools offer programs that are not currently offered in traditional public schools all students win!

  
David Levy:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.  

  
Denise Montagu:  I don't think this should be an either/or question. There are many examples of charter schools innovating and offering programming that might not otherwise be available in that particular community. There are also examples where a traditional school loses the majority of their most involved families in search of greener pastures at a charter school, thereby removing that per-pupil funding from the traditional schools, which is not necessarily easily replaced. It's not like all kids from one building move to the charter school, which would make it very simple to just close the one affected building. What happens instead, however, is that you get a few students each from multiple buildings, so they lose that funding, but the schools still cost the same amount to run because you don't lose enough kids to reduce the number of teachers or get rid of the principal, secretary, etc. What I don't know is whether the traditional schools will, in time, recover from that loss. I suppose that those schools located in areas of growth will recover, but those that are not will struggle. Then again, if the charter school is performing and meeting the needs of the students, then perhaps the free market prevails. 

  
Aimie Randall:  Charter schools help to improve opportunity district-wide. They can provide an environment in which a student who would not thrive at a large public school may thrive. Also, their employment policies are more agile, so they can recruit more specialized employees. The Thompson School District reflects a spirit of charter schools throughout, offering diverse options built into the public school system. I appreciate this innovation throughout the city.

  
Jeffrey Swanty:  When planned properly they improve educational opportunities.

 


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

Bruce Finger:  Yes. As a supporter of free markets I would support the creation of more schools as the marketplace sees the need.

  
Tomi Grundvig:  Yes. Again, I think the increase should be parent driven, as parents see the needs that are not being met in their local districts.  

  
Vance Hansen:  Yes. Provided we have the need and demand for additional facilities, I would support another charter school in Thompson R2J in a similar manner as I would support another neighborhood school.

  
Pam Howard:  Maybe – if there is a strategic growth plan in place. I support grassroots, parent driven, nonprofit Charters! I do not support for-profit, corporate Charters.  

  
David Levy:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.  

  
Denise Montagu:  Maybe – if there is a strategic growth plan in place. I do believe that strategic growth would resolve some of the issues I referenced above.

  
Aimie Randall:  Maybe – if there is a strategic growth plan in place. It is always important to perform thorough due diligence before making decisions that will impact the future of a school district. This question is about more than support for charter schools. It is also about making choices that are culturally and fiscally responsible to the futures of our students.

  
Jeffrey Swanty:  Yes.

 


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?

Bruce Finger:  The relationship seems to be working now in Thompson -- I'm not hearing any complaints, but will always be open minded and listen to all stakeholders.

  
Tomi Grundvig:  It is common for school districts and board members to resist or obstruct charter schools in their district, but when proponents of charters are able to show a well thought out, viable plan that would meet needs that are unmet, the board and district should welcome and support the new public charters that come in their district. The role of the school district and board should be to make sure the children of that district have the best educational choices possible, charter schools can benefit that goal.

  
Vance Hansen:  I believe that all schools in a district should have equal representation at the district and board level. Not everyone believes charter schools are the best option for their children but they are district schools. There are too many instances of individual schools (both charter and neighborhood) that are singled out in many ways to prove one point or another. We should be one district providing innovative options for our children's education.

  
Pam Howard:  Charter Schools operate under their own board, and the relationship is collaborative with the district's Board of Education. 

  
David Levy:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.  

  
Denise Montagu:  That depends on the parameters set forth in the charter. As the chartering agency, the district is liable for special education violations, so this is an area where I do believe the district needs to have a significant role.

  
Aimie Randall:  School districts should be supportive of every school in a district. While charter schools have their own boards, the local school district is responsible for re-chartering decisions, so there is an effective accountability factor built into the relationship.

  
Jeffrey Swanty:  Charter Schools should be independent of the District BOE.

 


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?

Bruce Finger:  This is a tough question and I'm not sure there is a yes or no answer. It depends what the bond or mill levy override is for. If it's just to increase the general fund, then yes, all schools should share in the increase.  

  
Tomi Grundvig:  Yes, both are public schools open to all children in the district. The ways of supporting only the neighborhood public schools are outmoded and allow each individual child access to the best schools for their needs.

  
Vance Hansen:  As I stated in a previous answer, I believe all district schools should be given the same voice and be treated equally.

  
Pam Howard:  I continually advocate for our charters to be a part of any upcoming mill or bond issues. 

  
David Levy:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.  

  
Denise Montagu:  I support including the district's charter schools in any future bond issues and mill levy overrides. We are responsible for spending the taxpayers' money in precisely the manner stated in the ballot language for the mill or bond request, so they would just need to state their case to the voters.

  
Aimie Randall:  This depends on the specificity of funds.

  
Jeffrey Swanty:  Yes, when planned properly in advance so other existing schools don't suffer as a result.

 


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.

Bruce Finger:  There is a level of excitement about charter schools and the innovation and choice that they offer. I believe we need to further educate the public and parents about charter schools and the role they play in public education. We also need to recognize that change may bring new challenges and we'll need to work together as a district to ensure we are all successful.  

  
Tomi Grundvig:  I think one of the advantages of charter schools is that they follow a free market approach, they sink or swim according to how well they meet the educational needs of the children they serve.  

  
Vance Hansen:  Each child had individual learning styles. Their parents, being the closest to them, are the most aware of specific needs. I believe every child can succeed with the right education and every child deserves a great education. I am a personal example of how choice in education helps with academic achievement. Educational choice is a critical component of that.  

  
Pam Howard:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
David Levy:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.  

  
Denise Montagu:  Candidate elected not to respond to this question.

  
Aimie Randall:  School choice is an important component in Colorado's success in education. School choice offers families opportunities to find options that align with their individual values. Strong options deflate disagreements about education issues because when the climate is supportive of choice, more than one voice is heard.  

  
Jeffrey Swanty:  As stated earlier, I was on the BOE when New Vision the first Charter School in the Thompson School District was approved.

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