Four seats are up for election on the seven-member, unpaid board of education for Poudre School District. The election will take place on Nov. 2 and seats in Districts C, D, E and G are open.
In District E, incumbent Carolyn Reed is running for re-election to the four-year term against Jeannette Gaiter, a resident of the district for three decades who put five kids through PSD schools.
Gaiter has fundraised $3,682.50 to Reed’s $9,423.75, according to campaign finance records as of the Oct. 5 filing.
Unlike other elections, voters select one candidate in each district rather than voting only for the seat that represents them.
What PSD district are you in?:Find out here.
Gaiter: ‘Academics are taking a back seat’
Gaiter, like a number of other candidates challenging incumbents, is running with the issues of academic excellence and parental choice as priorities, saying “there has been such a focus on social education that academics are taking a back seat.”
She said in addition to bringing successful academic strategies from school to school, she hopes to “empower the parents in the district as well, by supporting their rights, listening to their ideas, and encouraging them to be active participants in their children’s education.” Gaiter expressed that parental choice should be exercised when it comes to masks, noting she is not in support of a mandate.
Because Gaiter sees academics as the main priority of the board, she expressed concern that equity work is taking away from academics and harms the board’s relationship with parents.
“I believe that trust is broken when we spend these tax dollars on social education that has a heavy emphasis on inclusion, diversity and equity,” Gaiter said.
Budget-wise, if elected, her priorities would be on an improved curriculum for students, raising teacher pay and increasing the number of paraprofessionals in the district.
With regard to collective bargaining and working with unions in the district, Gaiter said a union may not be needed if teachers are being treated fairly, and she would want to investigate whether collective bargaining is truly best for teachers.
Gaiter sees the greatest areas for growth on the board as building trust with the community and strengthening academics across the district.
“I think the biggest area where the board could improve would be to focus more on academics and improving the children’s ability to read instead of focusing heavily on social issues such as diversity, equity and inclusion,” she said.
Gaiter has been endorsed by the Larimer County GOP.
Her top three donors, as of Oct. 5, are:
- Richard Decook, who donated $250
- Virginie Vernon, who donated $200
- Matt Tarka, who donated $200
Poudre School District election: 14 questions with Jeannette Gaiter, District E candidate
Reed: Staff schools, engage the community
Reed, who was born, raised and has lived in Wellington most of her life, is running for reelection with the hope of continuing to serve the PSD community.
To her, the largest problem facing the district right now is the labor shortage and inability to hire the necessary employees to educate kids to the best of the district’s ability. She said the district needs to think “creatively about how to staff our schools and support facilities,” along with preventing turnover in staff.
In addition to retaining staff and finding more funding to support them, Reed is also a big proponent of the district’s career and technical education.
She sees the biggest role of the board as listening, and said she’s worked to do that as a member over the stressful past two years.
“Our families and students have been asked to make so many adjustments, and it hasn’t always been easy,” Reed said. “We’ve heard from the community a lot … and while we may not have been able to answer every email, they were all read and considered.”
Reed supports the board’s diversity and equity work and hopes to continue it; she also supports the district’s SRO program, along with continual assessments of it. And she supports the district’s mask mandate, which she said has kept students and staff safe and out of quarantine.
She thinks the board can improve its transparency by making information more accessible across platforms so people who are unable to come to meetings or work sessions still feel involved. She said Superintendent Brian Kingsley has helped with this, but she said board members can do better at getting out to meet constituents.
“We have a better chance of engaging the community when we can attend regularly scheduled PSD or community events,” Reed said.
Among Reed’s endorsements are Mayor Jeni Arndt; four current board members, including outgoing president Christophe Febvre, state Rep. Cathy Kipp and Fort Collins City Council member Susan Gutowsky; and the Poudre Education Association.
Her top three donors, as of Oct. 5 are:
- Poudre Education Association for Children and Public Education, which donated $6,368.76
- Patricia Kuyper, who donated $1,500
- Fellow board member Robert Petterson, who donated $500
Reed also received a $5,500 donation from the Public Education Committee that was reported on Oct. 13 per campaign finance rules.
Poudre School District election: 14 questions with Carolyn Reed, District E candidate
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect significant donations given after the Oct. 5 filing date that candidates are required to report.
Molly Bohannon covers education for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @molboha or contact her at email@example.com. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.