3 of 38 reps on education panel hail from Western Slope

Despite promising to reach out to the entire state in everything he does, Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed a 38-member panel last week that includes three Western Slope people.

Actually, it’s only two if you don’t count one of those appointments: Christine Marie Scanlan, who’s listed as a Dillon resident but spends most of her time in the State Capitol Building as the Democratic governor’s chief liaison to the Colorado Legislature.

The panel is the Education Leadership Council that Hickenlooper created by executive order on the day he was sworn into office in January.

Led by Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, the group is to be a “meaningful forum” for educators, community members, business leaders and lawmakers to examine the state’s education policies and make recommendations to Hickenlooper.

It’s supposedly an extension of former Gov. Bill Ritter’s 28-member P-20 Education Council, which also had three Western Slope representatives, including one from Mesa County’s School District 51.

Garcia spokeswoman Julie McCluskie said the people named to the panel are leaders who represent statewide organizations, such as the Colorado Association of School Executives, the Colorado Association of School Boards and the Colorado Education Association, all of which are based in the Denver metropolitan area.

“We want to make sure that both Western Slope and Eastern Plains are well-represented at the table when it comes to any of our discussions on education reforms, education initiatives,” she said. “We are relying on those individuals to tap into their networks to help reach out to the many stakeholders that we want at the table with us.”

The 38 members include no one from the Eastern Plains. Other than Scanlan, the Western Slope representatives are Archuleta School District Superintendent Mark DeVoti of Pagosa Springs and Western State College President Jay Helman of Gunnison.

Fourteen of 15 panel members who represent businesses, colleges or local school districts are from the Denver area, and 15 of the 16 “public members” hail from the metropolitan area.

Responding to questions about all this by The Daily Sentinel, McCluskie updated her initial comment, saying the commission would have an announcement about the panel’s makeup early next week.

“We are listening to feedback, and I think we are going to talk about the ELC membership again,” she said. “We are going to really talk about: Are we reaching all of our diverse interests, and does everybody feel that their voice is included in the structure of this group?”


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