Julie Williams, a Colorado native and a product of Jeffco schools, is running for school board.
Williams, who is making her first bid for public office, is vying with Tonya Aultman-Bettridge in District 1, which covers the northern part of the county. Robin Johnson, who had held the District 1 seat since 2009, resigned in August after moving out of the county.
“I feel the board is lacking the voice and input of the parents and community,” said Williams, the manager of an orthodontic practice in Boulder. “I want to bring the perspective of a mom to the board.”
The election is Nov. 5.
A parent’s viewpoint
As a parent of two Jeffco students, Williams said she wants to bring common sense and simple solutions to the school board.
“I think our school board needs balance,” she said. “We have enough ‘edu-crats’ on the board already. We need a mom’s perspective.
“I believe that parents and the community deserve to have their voices heard and respected,” she said. “I feel we’ve lost that, and I’ll work hard for it to happen.”
Simplicity is at the core of Williams’ platform.
“Things are complicated,” she said. “It’s impossible to understand the district’s budget unless you’re a mathematician. I want to put things in simple terms so taxpayers can understand what we’re doing.”
If elected, Williams wants to address Jeffco schools that are underperforming.
“I want to talk to staff and students of failing schools to see what they need to be successful,” she said. “What can we do to fire them up? I want parents to be excited that they have their children in that school.”
Williams does not support Amendment 66, a measure on the November ballot that would revamp how public schools are funded in Colorado.
“I’m concerned about the impact that it could have on our families and businesses,” she said.
Amendment 66 is contingent on Colorado voters approving a nearly $1 billion income-tax increase. Under the proposals, wealthier districts would bear more of the cost for education than poorer districts. Williams was also opposed to last November’s 3A and 3B ballot questions, which raised property taxes to increase revenue for Jeffco schools.
“I’d be open to looking at a tax increase that would benefit Jeffco,” she said. “I’d have an open mind, but would need to see where the money is going first.”
“I feel it violates the privacy of our children,” Williams said of the district’s plan to pilot and possibly implement a “cloud”-based storage system for student data. “(InBloom) has the potential to collect private and personal data, and I have a problem with that.”
InBloom would centralize all student data, and then a second system known as the “classroom dashboard” would provide a single portal for access. The district says teachers would spend less time signing in and out of multiple systems and more time teaching children, but some parents have voiced concerns about whether the data would be secure.
“I have a problem with information stored in a national database,” Williams said. “I know our teachers are stretched out and work hard, but there has to be another way to do this.”
Participating in church activities, biking and spending time at the park are favorite activities of the Williams family.
“We enjoy family outings and movie and game nights,” she said.
Williams and her husband, Larry, are the parents of two boys, one with special needs. Both are Jeffco students.
Williams is the manager of Wong Orthodontics in Boulder. She is also is co-chair of the Jeffco Schools’ Special Education Advisory Committee, which provides the district a parent and community perspective on students receiving special education.
What’s at stake
The Jeffco school board has five members who represent five districts. Board members are not paid and serve four-year terms. The terms of Laura Boggs, Paula Noonan and the currently vacant District 1 seat expire in November.
The terms of board President Lesley Dahlkemper and board member Jill Fellman end in November 2015.
Even though Jefferson County is divided into five board districts, all county residents can vote for all seats.
Jeff Lamontagne and John Newkirk are running in District 2. Ken Witt and Gordon “Spud” Van de Water are running in District 5.
Jeffco Public Schools is the largest school district in the state and has more than 150 schools with nearly 86,000 students and approximately 13,000 employees. The annual budget of Jeffco schools is just under $1 billion.
Contact Daniel Laverty at Daniel@evergreenco.com or at 303-350-1043. Follow him on Twitter at @LavertyReports.