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Contact Form FAQ below.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1) Can I vote, or sign petition, if I donlt live in the City?

A- The Canon City RE-1 district boundaries are not the same as the city limits. You can vote in this election if you are a voter registered in the school district -- which is larger than the city. It includes park center water north, south to Lincoln Park and other areas, and west past the Royal Gorge park. Voters registered in Florence RE-2 or Cotopaxi RE-3 areas vote for their own boards.

2) Don't you need to be a teacher to be on the Board?

A- NO! - A teacher or orther district employee on the board has a conflict of interest. No 2013 candidate is a full-time teacher, although Shad Johnson's wife teaches in the district. The Board hires, fires when necessary, and sets pay for teachers and other staff, although this power is often delegated. Only rarely do board members have direct student contact from board-member's supervisory role.

3) What then does the Board do?

A- The District Board serves as the Canon City voters' and taxpayers' representatives in the system. The Board receives State and local tax money--in this district about $20 million yearly--and spends that money on building, maintaining, and operating the school system; it must plan and maintain a balanced budget -- it operates the business of one of Canon City's largest employers (hence utility of an MBA). By State law, the board sets the school calendar. The board sets, revises, and serves as a final appeal panel for, policies and procedures (including student and staff discipline) throughout the district, and sets curriculum and textbook selection for the district. It should listen to parents complaints, as well as teachers and administrators, in making its decisions, and may revise or set policy based thereon. It uses tax money to give students the best possible, yet affordable, education while keeping schools maintained for next year.

This election represents YOUR chance as voter, and taxpayer, to set Board direction for the next few years.

4) Why has Canon City had budget issues?

A- The State school finance act portion of Canon City revenue depends on student count - the more who drop out, are homeschooled, or move away, the less the district gets. Enrollment dropped 15% in the early 2000's, which combined with inadequate maintenance reserves with major repairs (such as roofs--1.3 million estimate for middles school main bldg roof alone) due leaves district pinched.

5) What is a maintenance reserve?

A- We know that some expensive parts of buildings wear out or deteriorate with age--like roofs and furnaces. A maintenance reserve is funds set aside each year and held for use in repairing those items. For example, $50,000 stashed away each year for 20 years would provide between 1.5 and 2.5 million depending on interest rates, enough for considerable repair.

I propose we establish a maintenance reserve for critical structure like roofs,

6) What is "Common Core"

A- Common Core is a set of standards for math and English curriculum that has been formally adopted by the Colorado State Board of Education. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Core_State_Standards_Initiative As such, much of future editions of State-mandated school assessment exams, such as TDAP, will be based on material covered in "common core." 

7) Why is "Common Core" controversial?

A- According to pundits, common core does not require that many traditional topics be covered, such as cursive writing, and permits muchcalculator use -- kids may never learn to add, subtract, multiply, and divide using pencil and paper. Further, readings called for by the standards favor liberal ideology. For example, the second amendment may be referred to as permitting only bearing arms in a state militia, and global warming described as without controversy and only using the most alarmist, now-disproven, simulations. Readings on economics may be wholly Keynesian, or even Marxist (even Keynes warned against too much Keynesian stimulus!). Math curriculum follows an experimental program that may or may not work well in schools. Marco Rubio opposes common core for these, and other, reasons. People have been arrested for daring to ask about common core, see http://michellemalkin.com/2013/09/20/parents-you-need-to-question-these-people-shock-video-of-dad-arrested-at-school-meeting-after-challenging-common-core/ It also comes with invasive "data mining" rules, where schools will track student and parental political leanings, gun ownership, and the like.

I have posted my own, personal, review and opinion of common core on the main page.

8) What can a district board do about "common core"

A- There is still competition in the textbook market. Some books may use less-biased reading selections than others. Some may use readings less tuned to large-city welfare culture than others. When new books are necessary, we should review the books locally--not just rely on reviews and advertising. Sample books should be available for public review so they can be vetted before buying them. Then, we can pick the best ones We can also modify standards in the same way Vermont did--their state added considerable rigor to common-core math by requiring mental and pencil-paper arithmetic, and is even making Algebra-II a requirement for graduation.

9) How can Science and Math education be improved?

A- Probably the single most important thing that can be done is to teach students and parents that math and science are relevant to them. Math worksheets can use examples from personal finance, economics, science, and engineering. Basic stoichiometry can be used to teach elementary algebra, instead of being held for Chemistry. Since many elementary teachers have never seen how math is used in science, we could require all new-hire teachers have taken a math-based science course, instead of merely meeting state minimums. We can also look at paying more for hard-to-find science and math specialty teachers, especially for grades 7, 8, and 9.

10) How can Writing scores be improved?

A- The best way to learn to write is - to write, and be critiqued. Yes, it is far more work for teachers to grade essays or short stories than multiple-choice exams. Some essay-writing or short-story writing should be required in many classes other than English classes, including history, social studies, even science classes. (Much of what I do for a living is actually science-based technical writing!)

11) What are all those tax hikes?

A- Proposition 66 is a State proposal to increase State income taxes -- they CLAIM it is for benefit of schools, and funds a new "school finance act". This allows the legislature to divert funds now used for school finance, so is likely to fund many other State activities. While this might increase revenue for Canon City Schools, there is no guarantee -- and it does away with TABOR votes on future increases.

Fremont County has a tax sales hike on the ballot, designated for the Sheriff's Office. As with the State proposal, there is no guarantee that the county wont divert funds now going to the sheriff to other county projects. None of the sales tax hike will go to schools.

12) What are the school property tax issues about? The bond issue, and that mil-levy override?

A- These were placed on the ballot by the current board, including the outgoing members--not by me.

The bond issue includes repairs for leaky roofs for which a maintenance reserve should have been built up -- but wasn't. Since there is no reserve, these bonds will allow repairs without requiring serious budget cuts.  The bonds also pay for remodeling categorized as "extending the useful life of existing buildings", security upgrades, uses 20-year bonds to buy computers that will be outdated in 5 years (horrible idea), and buys unspecified vocational equipment.. It may benefit the schools.

The "Mil -levy override" is an additional property tax that will be assessed throughout the district--it affects everyone since landlords can be expected to pass it on to tenants, and really goes to the "general fund" of the school district.  It may beneit the schools.

13) What is your positon on the tax hikes?

A- I oppose the State income tax increase prop 66. I reluctanly support the local school bond solely because paying for needed repairs in other ways will require much unpopular budget cutting. I do not take a public position on the other three tax hikes on the ballot.

14) What is current attitude of district towards common core?

A- Dr. Gooldy, Canon City Superintendent of Schools, spoke in support of the school tax hikes Sept. 24. He answered a "common core" question at with "80% we already do" and "the rest is on the exams, so we have to do it". He did not speak further, and looked irritated that the question had been asked..

Should we surrender so easy, or consider alternatives like Douglas County or Vermont? Vermont added cursive, mental and pencil-paper arithmetic, and similar basics back onto common core. What nonfiction readings should be in our textbooks? Remember, only part of common core has been adopted -- common core for science and social studies has neither been released or adopted by Colorado. What will those be like? Canon City parents and board should at least discuss these issues.

15) Why does your flyer refer to your having no conflict of interest?

A- Take a look at who the other candidates for this position, and their interests.

Shad Johnson has a spouse who is a district employee and teacher--and presumably teachers association member. His family has direct financial interest in pay and working conditions under union contracts. The board represents the taxpayers in these issues--his family interests obviously conflict with the board's duty. How will he handle this? Will he recuse himself from all pay and union matters?

Mary Kay Evans is a spouse of a former board member. Prior boards left us us in the position we are in today, without sufficient maintenance reserve to repair the roofs, relying on passing bonds to "extend useful life of existing buildings".

While my spouse has some early-childhood-education certifications, she does NOT work for the school district -- she works for "Southern Peaks Regional Treatment Center", a privately-owned reform school.

Disclaimer: Steve Barton and Steve Barton for Canon City Schools are not responsible for information on external sites--including but not limited to those sites reached through links on these pages marked with GO on a round button.

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Steve Barton for Canon City RE-1 School Board

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