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School District 51 - School Board Candidate Questionnaire

Updated: Oct 14, 2023

Restore the Balance


Report to the School District 51 Electorate

School Board Candidate Questionnaire Process and Results


October 15, 2023


Restore the Balance (RTB) is a bipartisan group of citizens who have united to oppose extremism and help restore issues-based civil discourse to our politics. More than 2,900 individuals have endorsed our pledge setting forth seven principles that serve this goal.

As it did in the 2022 election cycle and in the 2023 Grand Junction City Council election, RTB sent questionnaires to the five candidates for two seats on the Mesa County School District 51 (SD51) Board of Education (BOE). The purpose of the RTB Questionnaire was to learn the following from each candidate:

  •  Their qualifications and experience to serve as a BOE member

  •  Their commitment to RTB’s seven principles to govern political conduct and speech

  •  Their ideas for addressing some specific issues that presently face District 51

  •  Their support for public education

Readers may wish to review Attachment 1—SD51 Candidate Questionnaire Rubric to get an initial idea of the information the questionnaire sought as they read the Report. The responses to each of the questions were scored using a six-point scale. For comparability, the scoring was converted to a 100-point scale. A zero was assigned when a candidate did not answer a question. The results of the analysis are shown in Attachment 1 – SD51 Candidate Questionnaire Rubric, which groups the responses into eight categories.


Registered voters who live within school district limits may vote on all candidates seeking office.


The following candidates received questionnaires:

  •  District A; Jose Chavez, Jessica Hearns, and Cyndee Skalla

  •  District B; Cindy Enos-Martinez and Barbara Evanson

Three of the five candidates responded to the questionnaire within the specified timeline. The

candidates’ responses were evaluated by a bipartisan committee and scores were assigned. The RTB Board of Directors reviewed and approved the committee’s work. Each candidate’s completed questionnaire, along with the report and scoring are posted on the RTB website

(www.restorethebalance.org).


The following candidates have endorsed the RTB principles:

  •  District A; Jose Chavez and Jessica Hearns

  •  District B; Cindy Enos-Martinez

Included below are brief summaries by the RTB Board of Directors on the numerical scores that the

candidates earned for their responses to the RTB candidate questionnaires. There are three

important caveats for readers to bear in mind:


  1. Our work is based on a candidate's written responses to an emailed questionnaire rather than live interviews; thus, our opportunities to probe answers or ask questions were limited.

  2. Our scoring assigned higher values to candidates with experience that was obtained in our local community.

  3. Voters are strongly encouraged to review the questionnaires and answers of each candidate in their entirety and draw their own conclusions. These may be found at the RTB website. RTB scoring should not be a substitute for voters’ personal involvement and decision-making. We strongly recommend that voters attend any upcoming candidate forums.


District A


Jose Chavez (Points – 86.8)

We find Jose Luis Chavez to be an excellent candidate for the SD51 BOE. Mr. Chavez’s responses to the questions demonstrated that he understands the challenges and complexity of serving on the SD51 BOE. His responses also signal to us that he will govern with an open mind and seek to find common ground to deal with the many difficult issues facing SD51. Mr. Chavez’s responses reveal that he has the experience and skills to engage the public and other decision makers to come up with solutions. We also believe that his longtime community involvement in Mesa County, together with his background in law enforcement and direct association with SD51 and kids at risk provide the electorate with a uniquely qualified candidate.


Jessica Hearns (Points – 81.1)

We respect Jessica Hearns for her initiative to run for the SD51 BOE. It is clear from her responses that Ms. Hearns took time to carefully review the SD51 strategic plan, budget, and other documents on the district’s web page. As a newcomer to Mesa County, Ms. Hearns does not have the years of familiarity that long-term patrons of SD51 would have regarding the challenges facing SD51. A BOE position calls for someone with a deep understanding of SD51 and the community at large.


Cyndee Skalla (Points – 0) Did not answer questionnaire.



District B


Cindy Enos-Martinez (Points – 76.5)

We find Cindy Enos-Martinez to be an experienced and very well-qualified candidate for the SD51 BOE. Ms. Enos-Martinez’s responses, while brief, satisfied us that she understands what is required to serve effectively on the SD51 BOE, a position she previously held for four years. Her responses, as well as her record serving as mayor of Grand Junction and two terms on the Grand Junction City Council, are evidence that she will fulfill the SD51 BOE role in an open and fair manner. Ms. Enos-Martinez is a long-time Mesa County resident who has served on numerous community boards, including Grand Valley Catholic Outreach and Head Start. We believe that Ms. Enos Martinez presents the electorate with a well-qualified, hard-working candidate who has a demonstrated history of valuable public service.


Barbara Evanson (Points – 0) Did not answer questionnaire.



Non-Respondents

RTB has struggled with how to react to the candidates that refused to respond at all to the

questionnaire.    In the entire 2022 election cycle, which involved mostly partisan races, and the non-partisan 2023 Grand Junction City Council elections, all but one of the candidates who received questionnaires completed and returned them; that being Rep. Matt Soper.  It is hard to escape the conclusion that this decision was made by Ms. Skalla and Ms. Evanson in concert.  They have announced that they are campaigning together, and they have rejected other attempts to question them on the issues by local TV reporters and civic organizations.


RTB does not understand these candidates' reluctance to state their positions, as the responding candidates freely did.  One explanation is possible. There is a narrative in parts of the community that RTB is aligned with the Democratic Party.   This is one more in a long list of falsehoods perpetrated by extremists - one of the very traits of extremism that RTB stands up to oppose. Their accusations ignore the facts that 66% of our supporters are unaffiliated, that ethical officials of both parties are supporters of Restore the Balance, and that Republican elected officials have endorsed the RTB Pledge. Furthermore, the highest RTB questionnaire score among the 2023 Grand Junction City Council candidates was earned by a Republican candidate who was endorsed by the Mesa County Republican Party.


In any event, these candidates' determined lack of transparency on their beliefs, their policies and their principles should be cause for grave concern to voters.



Jose Chavez Response _Candidate Questionnaire Mesa County School District 51
.pdf
Download PDF • 57KB






Hearns_Mesa County School District Responses
.pdf
Download PDF • 100KB









Cindy Enos_Martinez District 51 Responses
. pdf
Download PDF • 36KB

Restore the Balance


1. I would like to serve on the D51 board because I am concerned about the

safety and wellbeing of students, the ability to recruit and retain quality

staff, equal treatment of ALL students, bullying not being taken seriously

and declining enrollment, being some of my concerns I want to address.

I had two sons, a granddaughter and grandson graduate from D51.


2. I have 30+ years of experience in government, served two terms on GJ City

Council. Served on D51 school board for 4 years and have 40+ years of

experience serving on numerous boards in my community including D51

and CMU.


3. Yes, I endorse each of the seven principles Restore the Balance should

guide political conduct in Western Colorado.


4. Offering quality education for ALL students with most qualified teachers,

adapting to the needs of those needing specific attention. In order for my

vision to be implemented, a school board must be in place that believes in

and supports public education.


5. No, I do not. I believe this community is over-extended with Charter

schools.


6. Listen, be respectful and have healthy discussions in order to make

decisions that are in the best interest of all D51 students.


7. I believe that students, teachers , parents and community should have

input and be part of discussions in the public setting.


8. Not all students function well and to best of their abilities in the standard

classroom so we need to find alternative pathways to educate them.


9. I do not believe that inappropriate material is being taught in the

Classroom, but I do not know if this is a fact in all classrooms.

I believe teachers should be involved in decisions on curriculum and it

should be reviewed by a committee, including community member.


10. I believe D51 has a good safety plan in place currently to keep our students

and staff safe. In a perfect world with money being no object, I would make

major changes to the layout of a few of our older elementary schools and

place an armed D51 security officer assigned to every school in the district.


11. Bullying is alive and well in D51. It is not taken seriously by some teachers

and administrators. Policy is not enforced equally across the entire district.

All students should feel accepted ad safe in school and I believe we need to

Take a different approach as to how students are treated and what

treatment is acceptable and or will be tolerated.


12. If elected I would like to review an organizational chart ad look at staff that

are not directly connected to students in the classroom and see if there are

are positions that aren’t really necessary.


13. I do not believe the per-pupil revenues are not adequate. I believe board

members should advocate for change in the state formula, I think the

community should try to recommend ways to work with the Tabor

limitations. At some point in time, when the temperature in the

community improves a mil levy could improve per pupil revenue.


14. Student enrollment dropped during Covid by 900+ students. One hundred

students returned, parents found other alternatives or students just quit

going to school. As I reviewed available information from “declining

enrollment committee” it looks as though it wasn’t feasible to keep East

Middle School open . I don’t think the district had a good plan to follow

through with the process, didn’t have answers for the community and

board wasn’t transparent. I believe this entire process effected teachers

negatively, students and cause the community to have numerous questions

that still have not been answered.

As a board member I want to be able to review the entire situation, I want

options laid out for me and I want to understand pros and cons, whys and

why nots and what are going to be the results prior to me making drastic

decisions of closing schools.


15. This question has been my fight for 20+ years while sitting on a committee

at D51. I have not been able to figure out why the district cannot recruit

and retain good quality staff. I will continue this fight until I can get the

answer. I do know affordable housing plays a part but there has to be

additional factors.


16.

• Students are not well prepared to go out in the workforce

• District doesn’t compete with Charter schools and try to market public

education

• District needs more alternative pathway programs to help students

graduate

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