Youth host school board forum

Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council Chairman Issac Suina welcomes the crowd to the Ignacio School Board Meet the Candidates night, Wednesday, Oct. 21 at the Ignacio High School Auditorium.
Long time employee of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Germaine Ewing, speaks on why she is running for a seat on the Ignacio School Board.
Sacha Smith | The Southern Ute Drum
Sacha Smith | The Southern Ute Drum


The Ignacio School Board Senate and the Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council held a Meet the Candidates Night for the eight candidates vying for a three seats on the Ignacio School District School Board. The forum was held in the Ignacio High School Auditorium on Wednesday, Oct. 21 roughly two weeks out from the Tuesday, Nov. 3 election.

“We want to build a better relationship with the adults and students,” Issac Suina, SCSYAC Chairman said.

The three-hour forum managed to gather a modest crowd, with most of the audience seeming to be affiliated with the event. The youth asked the first round of questions followed by the public.

All eight candidates showed up for the event – Jay Dee Brunson, Yvonne Conley-Chapman, Cynthia Dale, Germaine Ewing, Doug Little, Kelly McCaw, Michael Montoya, and Incumbent Agnes Sanchez.

Candidates fielded questions about the school district’s challenges, the achievement gap, current policies and procedures and budgetary issues.

The question about the school districts biggest issue varied between candidates.

The biggest challenges facing the district is parent involvement, incumbent Sanchez said.

Montoya went a different route, as he said he thinks the biggest issue facing the school district is teacher salaries.

“Teacher pay is lower than the state and national average,” he said.

McCaw agreed with Sanchez, that parent involvement is a major concern.

“I’m advocating for parents and students to get involved in school,” she said. “Education is a privilege.”

Little said he believes truancy is a major issue within the district.

The next question focused on the achievement gap in the school district and how the candidate would fix it.

“The achievement gap applies to all communities, families and school districts,” she said. “Achievements start at home.”

“Everybody has the same opportunity to learn the same,” McCaw said.

Another question asked was how to lower the thousands of dollars of debt coming from unpaid meal charges.

Dale suggested sending the bills to the collection agency to ensure repayment. Additionally, Dale said it is not the staffs’ responsibility to collect unpaid bills.

Conley-Chapman said it’s a family concern and should be something the parent and student handle.

Ewing said she thinks educating parents on services provided would help the cause.

“I’m no advocate of not feeding a student … need to educate parents on what aid is available,” she said.

Students also asked why the candidates wanted to be on the board and what qualifies the candidate.

“I have children with in the district … I feel I can help with the better education of our children, Brunson said.

Conley-Chapman said she wants to be involved with her children’s education and said she would bring her expertise of customer service to the board.

Ewing, employee for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe for the last 18 years is seeking a seat on the board.

“I have a strong belief in education and community unity,” she said.

Dale has recently retired from teaching and has worked for the district the past 15 years, she said.

Little also has a history of teaching and coaching in the community, he said.

“I want to help the [school board] take further steps and concentrate on the kids, he said.

McCaw said she has been on the District Accountability Committee and is a longtime volunteer of the Ignacio Schools and hopes to keep the district moving forward.

“The public school system is the most important entity in the community,” she said.

Montoya is an accountant and feels his accounting expertise would be beneficial to the board during the budgeting process.

“I’m a concerned parent and seek improvement in the school district,” he said. “I want people to get proud of the community.”

Incumbent, Sanchez wants to continue to help the community through working on the school board, she said.

“I like to give back to the community and volunteer,” she said. “I care about the students, and I work very well with other committees.”



























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