In the election that ends Nov. 2, voters in the Elizabeth School District will select three Board of Education directors. The top three vote-getters out of four candidates will win the election.
The Elbert County News sent questionnaires to each candidate to help voters learn more about them. Their responses were published in the News on Oct. 7 and are also online at https://tinyurl.com/ElizabethSchoolCandidates
To listen to Oct. 4 interviews with school board applicants, visit https://tinyurl.com/ElizabethInterviews
To listen to the Oct. 11 school board meeting, visit https://tinyurl.com/ESB1011meeting
With an election now underway to fill three board seats, the Elizabeth School District Board of Directors filled yet another seat -- that of former director John Guttenberg -- on Oct. 11 at their regular business session. Rhonda Olsen was chosen to fill the position.
Guttenberg, who was elected in 2019, resigned effective Aug. 23.
Prior to the selection, six applicants spoke at the Oct. 4 meeting, each expressing their goals for the Elizabeth School District and fielding questions from the sitting directors. The applicants were Roxanne Aviles, Kevin Combest, David Eddy, Michael Hodson, Ben Meade and Olsen.
Eddy is a candidate in the board election that ends Nov. 2. The other applicants are not on the ballot.
Prior to the official nomination at the Oct. 11 meeting, some of the board directors commented on the quality of the candidates.
“I thought all the candidates did a very good job," said board President Carol Hinds. "We had an impressive group of candidates.”
Board Treasurer Kim Frumveller mirrored Hinds' sentiment, saying that “the energy from everyone was fantastic in their statements.”
Board Vice President Cary Karcher began the process with his nomination of Olsen, expressing his reasoning as to why she was the best candidate to fill the vacant board seat.
“I think Rhonda would be a good fit. Rhonda was a little uncomfortable in the interview, but I am confident in her experience working at Arapahoe Community College,” said Karcher. “Her experience with leadership makes me confident that she will do well with kids in the district.”
His nomination was supported by Hinds and Frumveller. Secretary Paul Benkendorf indicated that he planned to nominate another unspecified candidate for the position. Olsen was appointed the vacant seat by a 3-1 vote, with Benkendorf as the only “no” vote.
Superintendent Douglas Bissonette told Colorado Community Media in an Oct. 13 email: “I was impressed with the process the board used to fill the vacancy and the quality of the applicants. The current board members work very well together and keep their focus on opportunities for students. I believe Mrs. Olsen shares that priority.”
In a statement to the Elbert County News, applicant Aviles, who was not chosen, said she was "deeply disappointed' in the board.
“A school board is supposed to represent ALL of its constituents, yet this board appears to prioritize community members who think like they do, instead. Our community is becoming more and more diverse, and yet our board and their views are not," Aviles said.
Olsen did not reply to numerous requests for comment from the News regarding her appointment and goals. Voter records show she lives in northwestern Elbert County east of Parker, and her LinkedIn profile describes her as assistant director of information technology for Arapahoe Community College.
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