Mom of five running for school board

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Kelly Perez figures five kids and 18 years in the Littleton Public School District pretty much make her an expert, so she’s running for school board.

“I’ve been here long enough to be a walking historian,” she said.

Perez has been on nearly every committee in the district and served as president of the parent-teacher organizations at Damon Runyon Elementary, Powell Middle School and Arapahoe and Heritage high schools — the last two at the same time. Prior to having kids, she was a social worker. More recently, she says she took a leave of absence from her job as an education consultant at Xerox to run her campaign.

Her youngest two kids are still in the district, one in sixth grade at Powell and the other a sophomore at Arapahoe.

“I am invested as a parent first,” she said. “I have a panoramic view of start to finish, and I’ve seen what went well and what didn’t. … Parents, students and teachers all have to work together and support each other to benefit our children.”

She said there are no huge elephants in the room, though there are always challenges. She praised the current board members for their cohesiveness and effectiveness.

“LPS is very healthy and has a good program,” she said. “That doesn’t mean we can’t tweak, and we probably will tweak because the demographics are changing. What I don’t want to see is someone come in and say, ‘I want change, I want to rip apart everything we’re doing and start new.’”

Perez really dug in during the successful mill-levy campaign in 2010.

“It was wonderful that the citizens and the community came together, and that they cared about the schools,” she said.

She supports the current board’s contemplation of placing a bond issue on the same ballot her name will be on in November, saying much maintenance is needed.

“It’s not a tax increase, but I’ll be honest. We are asking them to forgo the tax reduction,” she said.

Early literacy is one of her passions. While she knows STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) are important, she believes reading is the foundation of learning. She recalls successfully fighting to keep literacy teachers during her time on the financial advisory committee, despite opposition.

“I was proud that I could stand up and defend what I truly believed the kids needed to be successful,” she said.

And she’s proud of the district for giving all kids opportunities, from gifted to at-risk and everything in between.

“We don’t say, ‘You screwed up, we kick you to the curb.’ We take care of all the kids and give them an opportunity,” she said.

She knows that funding such programs continues to be a challenge, particularly as state funding shrinks but regulations continue to emerge.

“We will need to spend more time downtown and be a bigger part of that,” she said. “Unfunded mandates are really hurting us. Good ideas, but show us the money.”

Should she win, she’ll have just one child left in the district when the four-term is over.

“I believe being on the next LPS school board will be my ultimate investment in shaping the future of LPS and ensuring its continued success,” she said.

Five people have officially declared bids for seats on the Littleton Public Schools Board of Education: Dallas Jones, Kelly Perez and Robert Reichert, Carrie Warren-Gully and Jack Reutzel.

LPS canceled its last two elections when nobody stepped up to run against the incumbents. This time, Bob Colwell, Renee Howell and Sue Chandler are all finishing their second four-year terms and cannot run again due to term limits.

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