School board candidate Greg Mikolai profile
Hometown: Wells, Minn.
Profession: Television producer
Years in the Grand Valley: 15
Why he’s running: Mikolai said he read no one was going to run for District E and decided to make sure the seat did not remain vacant through election season. “I wanted to make an example to my son and put my money where my mouth is,” he said. He’d also like to examine the pros and cons of changing school schedules — possibilities include longer breaks year-round and a shorter summer, a longer winter break and a four-day week — to save money, help achievement and help students retain more information. He’d also like to see a more paperless school environment to save money and resources.
On the issues: The school district’s budget is expected to go through changes and challenges during the next few years. Mikolai said the school district needs to have guidelines for what programs and areas they’d like to protect during budget cuts. Then when cuts are suggested to the school board, the board’s job will be to make sure cuts stick to those guidelines.
The economy will bounce back, Mikolai predicts, but he’s uncertain how much the local school population will grow when that happens. He advocated school and business leaders investing in the workers of tomorrow and helping to expand schools and classrooms.
He believes parents need to encourage kids to graduate and stress the importance of all subjects — not just a student’s favorites.
When it comes to standardized testing, he said some people have lost sight of the original intent of Colorado Student Assessment Plan testing, which was to monitor a student’s achievement and growth.
“It has become a way to judge teacher effectiveness,” he said.
Giving the test in March is ineffective, he said, because class makeup changes as students change grades, schools and districts; some teachers worry they have to cram nine months of learning into the seven months before CSAP testing; and testing each month would be more effective.
No Child Left Behind, created in 2001, did not provide enough money to be effective, Mikolai said.
He said he hasn’t seen all of the Colorado Department of Education’s proposed model content standards, but he’s a fan of teaching students problem solving and hoping kids use what they learn in school to come up with new ideas.
Changing school schedules may be one way to make the school district energy efficient. Mikolai also is interested in making transportation practices more efficient and putting solar-electric panels on more schools.