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DPS School Board candidates
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By Bertha Velasquez

School board candidates tell La Voz readers why they should be elected.

Denver Public Schools board election does not fall short of being exciting. While the election has found itself center around the current school board Vice President Arturo Jimenez, La Voz reached out to all nine candidates asking why they are the candidate of choice and how their qualifications would best serve the school board.

The candidates are listed below in the order they will appear on the Nov. 1 ballot.

School District No. 1, Director At-Large:

Allegra “Happy” Haynes

Why are you the At-Large candidate of choice?

“My reasons for running for the at-large seat on the Denver School board are quite personal. I owe the opportunities and success in my life to my great public education. Every child deserves the same opportunities that Denver’s Public Schools’ great education provided for me as a proud DPS graduate, no matter what their background or income or address or language may be. The district has made reforms that are making real progress but these successes have been uneven - too few, uncertain, and slowed by politics. I have seen a lot of positive changes and improvements but there is so much more to do. It calls on me to do something more, to become a policymaker with the experience, courage, knowledge and passion for Denver’s public school kids. My background working for DPS has given me unique insight into what is working well, what isn’t and how we can better bring success to every corner of Denver. As a board member, I want to be focused in every decision on what’s best for kids and how to work collaboratively with the adults that influence their lives to achieve that result.”

How will your qualifications best serve the school board?

“I have a lifetime of interest and involvement in public education and supporting children and families. As an aide to a councilman and two different mayors, I learned the fundamentals about providing good constituent service by listening, understanding the issues on all sides and crafting common sense solutions. As a member of Denver City Council for 13 years, I developed expertise in both analyzing and creating public policy to meet the needs of my constituents and the city as a whole. I advocated strongly for city-school district collaboration and helped to create shared services and shared facilities agreements between DPS and Parks and Recreation. During the 5 1/2 years that I was head of the Office of Community Engagement at DPS, I led the Alternative Education Task Force to address the district’s drop out problem, created the City-DPS Collaborative partnership placing resource advocates in eight schools, created the Office of Parent Engagement and the Superintendent’s Parent Forum and also helped to create a new discipline policy for the district that dramatically reduced out of school suspensions. I am independent like to work collaboratively to seek common ground and solutions that work for everyone, but most importantly, for the kids first.”

Roger Kilgore

Why are you the At-Large candidate of choice?

“Independent, thoughtful, and collaborative representation is needed for Denver Public Schools and I have demonstrated these skills throughout my career as a water resources engineer and educator. I have the needed skills and experience to reinforce my passion for public education, especially my desire for closing the achievement gap, including being: an excellent collaborator, a skilled problem-solver, an experienced and effective teacher as well as a lifelong learner, an experienced business person and manager for30 years, and an effective leader. I, along with my wife of 29 years, have experience working with urban kids to provide opportunities for growth including tutoring English language learners.”

How will your qualifications best serve the school board?

“The school board sets overall policy for the district and sets the example for the type of culture we have within the district. Recognizing that there have been some improvements within the Denver Public Schools, further progress is hindered because the district has a weak reputation for listening and responding to the concerns and ideas of parents, teachers, and the community and it often engages in confrontational policies. My professional experience and success has come from being an effective listener and collaborator. I will use this expertise to forge positive relationships with all of my board colleagues and the superintendent and work hard to transform the culture of DPS to one of trust, respect, and excellence. I will also use my business and management experience to insure that DPS is operated effectively and transparently so that resources are used efficiently.”

John Daniel

Why are you the At-Large candidate of choice?

“I am the candidate of choice because I am the only candidate who is talking about reducing the Administration Budget. School Boards are in the habit of continually asking for money from voters without looking at their budget to see where they can reduce expenses. Before asking people to give up their hard earned cash we need to look at where we can cut.”

How will your qualifications best serve the school board?

“As a Software Engineer I am used to working on contentious projects with large budgets. That is a situation very similar to the Denver School Board. I have a great record of resolving issues and solving problems, where we were able to build the systems we needed on time and on budget. DPS has to get the budget under control to be able to put air conditioning in the old schools. We have classes that don't have books. We have to get control over the money and curriculum to ensure a good education for all of Denver's Kids.”

Jacqueline Carole Shumway

Why are you the At-Large candidate of choice?

“I am the real deal! I believe that education is a movement, not an industry. Art, music and physical fitness are important parts of educating the whole kiddo! They increase academic achievement and reduce drop-out rates. With my degrees in finance and physical sciences, I am a great advocate for educating the whole person. I love people, I grew up (or at least tried to) in San Antonio, Texas, and have an interesting life experience that will help me to help all kids.”

How will your qualifications best serve the school board?

“I teach Tai Chi. It is the physical manifestation of finding balance in everything, including our school board decisions. My lack of political aspirations are why I will make the best choices based on the best outcome for our kids. My DPS volunteer experiences over the past 20 years give me a unique insight into solving any problem — DPS related or not. I love people! I am a fiscal conservative who believes in social justice. Just like so many folks I know! My extensive experience will help me to be a whole person board member and a peacemaker in these difficult times. We the people can do this! I want to change the flawed system that now exists for financing campaigns. I have been studying this and contemplating it since my 2009 run for DPS Board. I decided to run this year to help others learn about our broken system.”

Frank E. Deserino

Why are you the At-Large candidate of choice?

“I am both a historian and social studies teacher at Denver South High School where I teach civics and American History. For the last nine years I have witnessed the Denver School Board increasingly ignore the needs and concerns of teachers, students, parents and the community at large. To replace this communicative atmosphere we have received useless programs that do little for our children, incessant testing, larger class sizes, fewer resources, and the brunt of the blame in the district’s reasoning for the current state of our public schools. I believe that it is time to have a teacher on the Board so that the realities from inside the classroom can be at the forefront of the Board’s decision making. What this district needs is administrative / budgetary transparency, accountability, and a place where all of Denver’s children can obtain an equitable, first class educational opportunity. The complete lack of these things are but a part of my motivation for running, and what I will do once I am on the Board.”

How will your qualifications best serve the school board?

Not available at this time.

School District No. 1, Director District 1

Emily Sirota

Why are you the District 1 candidate of choice?

“I am running for district one because we cannot maintain the status quo. When my 11-month-old son, Isaac, enters DPS in just a few years, I want him and all of Denver's children to be in schools that prepare them for life's next step. Every parent has the right to choose where to send their children to school. However, I want to ensure all our neighborhood schools, regardless of community, are providing a high quality, well-rounded education.”

How will your qualifications best serve the school board?

“I am the only candidate in this race with experience developing public policy at every level education policy is crafted. I understand what works and what doesn't. I have wrangled bureaucracies. I am a social worker and understand that communities have different needs. When it comes to educating our children, we must take into account and work with different communities. I bring an independent, collaborative spirit to the school board. I have successfully brought diverse stakeholders to a single table to work toward better outcomes for the greater good.”

Anne Rowe

Why are you the District 1 candidate of choice?

“I am motivated to help all of our kids receive the best education possible and believe that as a Denver Public Schools board member I can use the experience I’ve gained through many accomplishments to help achieve this goal. Over the past 25 years, I have served on a number of nonprofit community boards that address the needs of Denver’s kids. On the district level, I have been an integral part of committees that provide valuable input to the DPS Superintendent. My involvement at the school level began 16 years ago when I became part of the group of neighborhood parents who worked to re-open Slavens School. I believe my involvement at the community, District and school levels gives me the experience and perspective necessary to be a productive member of the school board.

How will your qualifications best serve the school board?

“I am fully committed to investing the time and energy I know it will take to dramatically improve public education in Denver. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and our whole community coming together to be successful. I believe we can get there, which is why I’m running for School Board. Finally, I am a parent of three young women, Kate, 18, Tory, 16, and Biz, 14. All three have attended Denver Public Schools since ECE. I have lived through the educational achievements, celebrations, frustrations and challenges that come with educating children.”

School District No. 1, Director District 5

Jennifer Draper Carson

Why are you the District 5 candidate of choice?
“I have been an education activist since moving to Northwest Denver almost seven years ago. I served as Executive Director of Northwest Parents for Excellent Schools, worked at North as Pubic Relations Liaison and as Resource Advocate, as a paraprofessional at Sandoval, and serve as Chair for North's Collaborative School Committee. I have been on the front lines, working with children and families, teachers and administrators, community members and business owners, in an effort to bring academic excellence to children in the community.

“For 7 years, I have heard repeated demands for academic rigor; for high-performing schools in the neighborhood; for accountability at all levels. And while there has been some progress, we must move faster. We continue to have the highest number of failing schools in the city. We also have the highest choice out and drop out rates, and the highest remediation rate. I bring a focused urgency for the students in District 5. We need decisive leadership that represents our children. The function of the public school system is to educate every child and District 5 in particular has been letting down our students and families for far too long.”

How will your qualifications best serve the school board?

“My qualifications as a DPS parent, taxpayer, and an education activist make me a great candidate to represent the needs of our students. I have worked with students and families from every corner of our diverse District while at North and Sandoval. I understand the array of needs and circumstances. But most importantly, I understand that ALL parents and families want the best for their children. I understand the need to simplify interacting with DPS, and that we need to meet people where they are most comfortable, vs. expecting families to come to us in the schools. We need to serve our constituents - the students - and recognize that the highest drop out rate and choice out rate is a very clear message to DPS that we are NOT providing our children with what they want and need - engaging schools that provide rigor and academic excellence.”

Arturo Jimenez

Why are you the District 5 candidate of choice?

“I’m proud to be the current representative for this district; representing the neighborhoods I grew up in and am raising my own family in today. Over the past four years, I’ve worked hard to bring the community voice to the Board, and we’ve seen a lot of success, such as double digit gains at our middle schools, preparing students to enter high school. We have renovated North High School, and West High School will reopen next year as the most innovative in the district. We still have a lot of work to do though. If reelected, I will focus on early childhood education. We know that if a child begins to learn early, they are better prepared for grade school. By doing so, they will be much more likely to graduate from High School and not need remediation classes.”

How will your qualifications best serve the school board?

“As a father of three girls, and former head of the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition, I understand what it means to be involved in our schools. As a bilingual member of the school board, I’ve worked to make sure that all parents have a voice in their children’s education. The most important quality for a board member to have is the ability to bring the community together. When West High School was in trouble, I worked for a year with parents, teachers, DPS administration, and the community to craft a plan for success. Next year West will reopen as the most innovative school in the district, with a longer school day, a longer school year, and smaller class sizes in core courses. I bring the same passion to all schools and communities where I work.”





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