Dotti Calhoun, a D-60 school volunteer, may be a newcomer to running for an office in Pueblo, but she says she's more qualified than the other four candidates, in part, because she is the only one with a school aged child in the district, the school board of which has two open, at large seats.
Calhoun gave a fiery speech at a recent campaign luncheon, introducing herself first in Spanish, explaining proudly that her relatives are immigrants from Mexico. She, her husband and three children moved to Pueblo five years ago, but she says she loves Pueblo just as much if not more than natives.
Calhoun says that there needs to be a member like herself on the school board, who spends time in the classrooms, and who represents student's and teacher's perspectives. She says she has insight that others running for the board don't because she spends so much time volunteering in the classroom: "We really need to listen to our students and our teachers."
She has a college degree, was formerly substitute teacher and was a PTA executive board member, and she thinks that her experiences combined will help her be of benefit to D-60 schools.
She says that the school board needs to be more fair in order to retain and recruit qualified teachers, who have been on strike recently for better pay and more programs for school aged children. She says the school system needs to be reformed nationally and locally, and that she wants to help forge local change.
Calhoun emphasized that she's not a politician and she says that she has no ties and alliances may be a benefit, since there has been so much disfunction in the past.
"I'm a mom," she says. "And, I'm fed up. I'm fed up with a budget that keeps taking away from the schools. I'm fed up with the severely limited resources our teachers are expected to utilize to educate our kids. I'm fed up with the low test scores. I'm fed up with the fact that our children's education is being compromised."
HERE ARE HER GOALS IN HER WORDS:
Students need to be our main focus: "I will focus on what really matters - our children. I will work, hand-in-hand with teachers, the Board, and administrators to implement proper curriculum, with a back to basics approach, keeping in mind the need to prepare students for their futures in a rapidly changing world."
D-60 must have a budget for today and the future: "I will focus on creating a committee comprised of Board members, principals, teachers, and community members to examine the budget. This will create a budget that is truly driven with students as the number one focus. This will: allow more funds for classrooms, teacher salaries, to fix our aging schools, to insure that the district's money is not being wasted unnecessarily or frivolously, to allow the committee to consolidate funds that are spent on similar items and allow the district to focus on the future, not just the present."
Listen to our teachers, they need to be heard: "I will be an advocate for our teachers and will be the person on the board who will listen. I will work, with our educators, to ensure that the Board is supporting them in their mission to provide our kids the quality education they deserve. It's time that teachers have a voice regarding issues ranging from the classroom, to the school year calendar. Our teachers have great ideas, and as the people on the front lines, they know what works and what doesn't. They are the KEY to our children's future."