District 51 board moves ahead with new members

District 51 School Board members said thank you and goodbye to one of their own Tuesday at their last meeting before new and newly elected members are sworn in next month.

It was the last meeting after 10 years of service for term-limited School Board Vice President Leslie Kiesler, who called her departure “bittersweet,” saying she will get to spend more time with family but would stay on the board longer if she could.

Kiesler offered parting words of advice for her fellow board members, asking them to keep kids first, review Robert’s Rules of Order so board meetings can run more smoothly, and to work on team-building.

Board member John Williams, who was appointed to the board in August and elected Nov. 5, agreed with Kiesler’s final point. Williams, Board President Greg Mikolai and board member-elect Tom Parrish defeated candidates Pat Kanda, John Sluder and Mike Lowenstein, a trio of conservatives endorsed by board members Jeff Leany and Ann Tisue. Williams said he was pleased to get calls from both Tisue and Leany the day after the election.

“I look forward to a more united board than I’ve been reading about for a few years. I’m serious,” Williams said.

Leany’s father, Arvan Leany, and Mesa County Republican Women President Linda Gregory, supporters of the candidates who did not win, congratulated Mikolai, Parrish and Williams during public comment at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Serving on a board takes a lot of work, commitment and unfailing loyalty to what you really believe in,” Gregory said.

“I feel the board that we’ve had has been tremendous and I feel the new board will be tremendous,” Arvan Leany said.

As one of its final actions, the current board approved a resolution that will allow Mesa Valley Vision Home and Community Program to file for charter school status for 2014-15 although the deadline to do so has passed. Superintendent Steve Schultz said the home school program plans to apply to become a charter school because the Colorado Department of Education has decided not to renew waivers needed for the program to continue as a regular district school. The waivers will not be renewed, Schultz said, because of interpretation issues surrounding what state and federal government consider qualified personnel.

Vision leaders plan to submit a charter application to the district by Jan. 7. The Vision model and operations are unlikely to change noticeably for the school’s more than 400 students and their parents, Vision Program Director Jill Hatten said.

“I would imagine most of those in our program will sign intent-to-enroll forms for next year,” she told the board.

Board members also tentatively scheduled a swearing-in ceremony at 5 p.m. Dec. 3 for Mikolai, Parrish and Williams. Schultz said the ceremony is later than usual because Mesa County certified election results aren’t expected until late in the day Nov. 22 and the following week is Thanksgiving week.


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