This year, voters will be deciding which school board candidate they like least.
Five Summit County residents are running for four open seats on the Summit School District Board of Education.
The four-year terms now held by Alison Casias, Dave Miller, Sue Wilcox and Erin Young will expire in November. Casias and Young can’t run again because they’ve reached term limits. Wilcox will run again, while Miller — Keystone Science School’s director of education and program sustainability — will not.
The terms for the remaining three members of the seven-person board — Margaret Carlson, J Kent McHose and Marilyn Taylor — will expire in 2017.
The five candidates — Cindy Bargell, Terry Craig, Mark Franke, Lisa Webster and Wilcox — have a variety of experience in and out of education.
Candidates run at-large in a non-partisan election. They do not represent a geographic area other than the entire district, and they are not selected through a political party nominating process.
The Colorado Association of School Boards lists desirable attributes for effective board service, including: vision and ability to see the big picture, a strong belief in the value of public schools, ability to work as a team member, willingness to spend the time necessary to become informed on school district matters, respect for the needs and feelings of others and the ability to listen and communicate well.
The election will be Nov. 3. Their terms begin that month.
Cindy Bargell grew up in Boulder in a family of educators. Both her parents were teachers, and her sister and brother also went on to teaching careers.
She spent 10 years working in mineral rights for the oil and gas industry before earning a law degree from the University of Denver. She has worked as an assistant attorney general and mostly in private practice.
Now the Mesa Cortina resident focuses on real estate and natural resource law, and she said education is “an inner calling that I didn’t realize I had.”
She is a parent of an ninth grader and tenth grader, and she has been involved with local schools’ parent associations for the last 13 years since her older daughter started preschool at Dillon Valley Elementary.
She chose to run now because after a four-year term, her children will have graduated.
“It’s not just about my kids,” she added. “I still care a lot about the trajectory of our system.”
She wants to become involved with the district’s challenges with testing, capital improvements and integrating the successes of Dillon Valley Elementary, a dual language school, and Frisco Elementary, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Terry Craig moved to Summit County in 1978 and lives on Montezuma Road near Keystone.
Her husband, Bob, who founded the Keystone Policy Center and the Aspen Center for Physics, died in January at the age of 90.
In 1982, she opened an art gallery with Martha Hibberd in Keystone. The pair soon moved the Hibberd McGrath Gallery to Breckenridge, and Craig closed it after Hibberd died in 2012
Craig has a degree in geography and history and taught at environmental education schools — including the local Keystone Science School as well as the Colorado Outdoor Education Center, in Florrisant, Colorado, and the Keewaydin Environmental Education Center in Keewaydin, Vermont.
She has spent 12 years on the Snake River Basin Planning Commission and currently serves on the Summit County Open Space Advisory Council and the Keystone Policy Center board.
She hasn’t had family members in the school district but is interested in a school board position to help foster a strong, educated community. She said she’d like to encourage elements that have led to district successes, including parent involvement and student understanding of the world.
Mark Franke has lived in Colorado for 20 years, owned property in Summit since 2002 and lived full-time in Frisco for the last six years.
He owns a small software company called Relatrix and said he was motivated to run for school board by a desire to understand Common Core, student and teacher assessments and other factors affecting his stepdaughter, who has attended Frisco Elementary, Summit Middle School and now Summit High School.
After working in technology for more than 20 years, he is passionate about technology in schools and especially the district’s one-to-one initiative to allow every child access to his or her own tablet or other computing device.
He said he would like to probe the district’s implementation of technology and make improvements if necessary, and he would do the same with the district’s communication with the broader community.
He has an MBA from the Colorado State University and said his business experience and training would help him make sense of numbers facing the school board.
When he lived in Bailey in northeastern Park County, he volunteered with Park County’s historian, and he now sits on his HOA’s board. He said he is also a strong supporter of early childhood education.
Lisa Webster has lived in Summit for five years and now works at Daylight Donuts in Breckenridge. The Peak 7 resident previously worked with the school district on its inaugural summer enrichment program and held an administrative position with the town of Breckenridge.
She said she would bring organizational and leadership skills from a 20-year career in the U.S. Air Force as well as her experiences volunteering with Upper Blue Elementary, participating with the Summit Lake Dillon Optimist Club and helping to start SAGE, or Summit Advocates for Gifted Education.
The parent-advocacy group raises awareness about issues affecting gifted and talented students, and she has been executive chair of the organization since it became a nonprofit in 2012.
She recently organized a simulcast of the TEDxMileHigh talks for parents and students in the Silverthorne Town Hall, and, last fall, she facilitated a three-part speaker series that brought experts to Summit to discuss 21st century skills in schools, the brain science behind modern stress responses and mindfulness techniques for coping with stress.
She said she would continue to focus on those issues as well as on promoting performance and visual-arts opportunities and rigor for all students.
“I think every child should be able to learn something new in each subject every day,” she said.
She has a son who just started sixth grade at Summit Middle School.
Sue Wilcox is the only incumbent running in the election.
She has lived in Summit County for 31 years and works with the Keystone Policy Center as vice president of business and administration. Her son just graduated from Summit High School, where her daughter is a sophomore. The Summit Cove resident has volunteered with local schools and the Summit Nordic Ski Club.
As a school board member, she was involved on a committee to change the way high school students are recognized for their academics at graduation. She also helped change administrative and support-staff pay in a way that the board was comfortable with and district employees felt was fair, she said.
She has learned about education laws that affect the district’s reading programs, testing and finances, she said. “I’ve learned that a lot goes into running a school district, and there’(re) a lot of things that we don’t control because they’re controlled at the state level.”
If re-elected, she would want to continue the district’s work addressing mental-health concerns and helping non-native English speakers (22 percent of students) achieve academically.
She cited the district’s jump in state rankings over the last four years and said she supported the new strategic plan the school district will implement this year.
“Our past strategic plan brought us to a good place, and I think our next strategic plan can continue that growth and continue that upward trend that we’ve seen for achievement,” she said. “It can get better from here.”
Editor’s note: Cindy Bargell writes a twice-monthly column for the Summit Daily News. Bargell and the Daily have mutually agreed to suspend her column while she runs for school board.