Seven School Board Candidates Vie For Three Seats
by Douglas McDaniel
Oct 11, 2007 | 271 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
NORWOOD, Oct. 12, 9:51 a.m. – In the campaign between seven candidates for three seats to the five-member Norwood School District Board, there has yet to emerge an entrant to the field who has sought to stand out from the rest by either criticizing too much the current board, the district, or, an opposing candidate.

The candidates for three four-year terms in Nov. 6 election are listed on the ballot as follows: Terence Esch, Martha “Marty Hollenbeck” Schmalz, Tammie Tabor, Leigh Anne Calhoun, Liza Tanguay, Teresa Brier and Andrya Brantingham.

If you got them all together in a room, it seems, they would all get along.

“All of the candidates are excellent,” said Tanguay.

Said Schmalz, “We all want the same things. The best for our kids.”

They all are similar in their support of the 3A override ballot question (see story on this page) as well, saying the district needs the “reallocation of funds” to increase teacher salaries and improve programming.

“That will increase our teacher’s salaries,” Schmalz said.

Six-year resident Leigh Anne Calhoun of Redvale has a second-grade son in the Norwood Elementary School; a graduate in respiratory therapy from Boise State, she takes care of her son at home while her husband works as a contractor for Encana.

“I’m a home mom. That’s my job,” she said.

With “no bones to pick” in terms of district-related issues, Calhoun said what she really wants the school board to focus on is expanding its programming in the areas of vo-tech, drama, photography and upper-level courses to prepare seniors for college.

Tabor is among the extended-stay families the area, having lived in Norwood for 28 years. Her two children have both passed through the school system in Norwood, and, she said,  “I actually have grandchildren in the school now.”

She is a former teacher in the district, working for many years with the high school music program (with other teaching duties as well). She said that while she had always wanted to run for the school board when she worked for the district as a teacher (which can be done), she decided not to do so because she saw it as a “conflict of interest” while working as a district employee.

Tabor hopes by getting on the board she will be able to wrest back district control  of federal regulations and mandates that hamstring a school board’s autonomy.

“There are huge issues with how the federal government wants to take away local regulations,” she said. “We need to restore local control.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Tanguay, a Norwood resident for 16 years whose daughter, 3½, is in the Prime Time pre-school program. “I definitely want to make sure that the school in Ruby’s hometown has an excellent school district locally,” she said. And in a rare critique, she said, “The previous school board didn’t put time into educational excellence that it needs. In town there’s a feel of a need for more educational excellence. I feel like there’s a mood in town that it’s time to swing the pendulum.”

Tanguay’s background is in engineering, which she believes translates into organizational skills in terms of how she might provide leadership to the school board.

“I’m running on a platform of being an engineer for seven years, and that translates into expertise in organizing and problem-solving,” she said. “I believe we need to work for more systematic measurements in school performance, in not just test scores but all kinds of ways.

“What you measure will improve,” she said.

Schmalz is better-known in town as “Marty Hollenbeck” (both names will be listed as a single name on the ballot), has been in Norwood since 1980, and in San Miguel County since 1974. She now keeps the books and serves as marketing manager for themail-order computer software company she runs with her husband. With a background in education, she has served on the board of the directors for the Living Tree House alternative school, which she described as a “home school cooperative.” Later, when her two children entered their junior years in high school, they joined the public school.

She said she became more involved in district-related issues when the banning for a book by Rudolfo Anaya, Bless Me, Ultima, blew up as a censorship versus freedom of expression issue after a parent objected to having the book assigned as a middle school reading assignment; she was also vocal in opposing

the recent dismissal of several teachers.

“I really want us to try to stick to the issues and for everyone to remember that we all have the same goals. I’d like to meld staff, teachers and administrators and students to move toward those same goals, rather than fracturing the community on all of these [contentious] issues.”

Brantingham, who moved here eight years ago with her husband and two children, also has an interest in education and works as executive director of the Wright Stuff Foundation, which focuses on youth-oriented activities. She draws from her experience both as a classroom teacher and as someone with knowledge of legislative and district issues. On the score of “integrity,” part of her campaign slogan, she said, “I have that because I’m really committed to do it.”

She is another candidate who believes the district needs to improve and refine its policies to avoid another book-banning episode, or a similarly divisive issue.

“It’s an ongoing haunt that this school district still has to live with,” she said. “I think it comes down to policies. Do we have policies in place to keep these things from happening?”

She said the board is ready for new blood, and will certainly be getting it. In this election, a changing of the guard will take place in the form of new school board members who, unlike several current school board members, were not raised in the Norwood School District.

“The main thing is trying to get the right combination of perspectives and ideas,” Brantingham said. “Maybe we can get some different opinions for what changes need to be made for rural schools.

“There’s been a lot of change in Norwood as a town, with a lot of people working in Telluride and moving to the area. But the strongest voices you hear are from a lot of the older families who don’t want change.

“But we have some really strong candidates right now, and I think good things will happen whoever is elected.”

(Esch and Calhoun could not  be reached by telephone by press-time, and Brier, who is heavily involved in a fundraising project, asked to be interviewed later.)

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