RFSD board of education encourages healthy discourse | Opinion | #Education

(Editor’s note: This commentary was written by Kathryn Kuhlenberg but other members of the Roaring Fork school board signed onto it.)

As your Roaring Fork School District Board of Education, we’re proud of the work we are doing to support students in and out of our classrooms. We work hard to align our systems to best practices so we can efficiently and effectively serve in this immeasurably important volunteer role. This role is one we respect and understand as being powerful and impactful in our community and for our students. We’re truly grateful for your trust in placing us here and hopeful that as a community, we can all lean on one another to do right for our kids.

As a child, my mother always told me she wasn’t raising children, she was raising the adults who would enter and then lead our society. I’ve taken that sentiment to heart as a parent, but it also weighs heavily in my role as board president. Our community-driven district vision is clear, and it directs our superintendent to ensure that every student develops the enduring knowledge, skills and character to thrive in a changing world. I wholeheartedly agree with this mission and I hope you do, too. We want success for our kids, but the path to achieving this vision in our unique community is not clear or direct, and we certainly have a way to go.

Our leaders constantly make decisions about how best to achieve this aim. These decisions may not always garner 100% support from stakeholders, and that is OK. Decisions must be made to move us forward in the best interest of students. Through this decision-making process, we work hard to model inclusive and positive discourse, so our children are exposed to a healthy model of governance. Remember, our goal is to raise citizens, and a crucial aspect of our society is becoming a critically thinking, voting member of our democracy. In fact, that was the goal of the system of public education envisioned by our Founding Fathers. As time has gone on, the system has changed for good reason: More people have been enfranchised to vote! Yet, the goal remains the same: healthy discussion, respectful debate, public engagement and, ultimately, the movement toward a more perfect union.

With this in mind, and as a volunteer member and president of our board of education, I ask you to understand this, model this, and support our children by engaging with us in healthy ways. As time wears on, we’ll continue to address difficult topics as well as mundane ones. Some will draw the public to our meetings, and most will not. Meanwhile, we’ll view each issue through the lens of our mission in the hopes we can move closer to achieving it. As we do this, we invite you to contribute to the discourse through the public comment portion of our meetings, through written comments, and with us outside of meeting times. However, we will not tolerate insults, harassment, yelling or any disruption that interrupts the business of the board during our meetings. That type of behavior does not exemplify good citizenship, is unproductive, and none of our volunteer directors deserve to be treated in such a manner. As board president, I will not allow it.

While most of our interactions with the public are respectful and fruitful, it is not always the case, and I feel strongly that no one should feel unsafe during our meetings. We appreciate open and respectful participation in our processes and we look forward to continuing our service to our students throughout our terms.

We wish you all a safe and happy holiday this week. There is certainly much to be thankful for.

Roaring Fork School District Board of Education

Kathryn Kuhlenberg, president

Jasmin Ramirez, vice president

Natalie Torres, secretary-treasurer

Maureen Stepp, member

Kenny Teitler, member

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