Q&A

Elizabeth Hanson: Douglas County School Board candidate, District C

Posted

City or town of residence: Highlands Ranch

Occupation: Employment attorney

Campaign website/contact information: HansonforDCSD@gmail.com; www.HansonforDCSD.com

Why are you seeking this office?

I promised my three children, who are in elementary school, that I would work to prevent school violence and make sure they feel safe at school. By seeking a director position, I am not only keeping my promise to my family, I am extending it to our entire community.

What makes you the best person for the job?

Throughout my career in human resources and employment law, I have focused on building strong organizations by valuing the people within. I have the right background and experience to improve our district’s work environment, which is the essential foundation for providing our students a safe and supportive learning environment.

What can be done to enhance security at district schools?

The security of our schools is absolutely critical but cannot be dependent on a single solution or strategy. Security requires a comprehensive approach of both long-term and short-term efforts. One of the most effective strategies to prevent violence is through social and emotional wellness programming, yet a cultural shift of this magnitude cannot happen overnight.  We must simultaneously work to educate students, parents and staff about threat assessment, intervention and emergency preparedness, ensure our buildings are physically secure, and continue to build community partnerships in order to provide exceptionally well-trained school resource officers in our schools.  

What can be done to better address the mental health needs of district students?

If one student in our district is uncomfortable asking for help dealing with conflict, stress, depression or anxiety, or has contemplated suicide or violence, then we simply must do more. Taxpayer approval of additional funding in 2018 added more than 80 critically needed counselors to our schools for the current school year. Every elementary school now has a social and emotional learning curriculum in place and the student per counselor ratio at middle schools and high schools has improved. It is imperative to provide students with the life skills to identify emotions, control impulses, respect others and identify and resolve conflict.

How has the proliferation of charter schools impacted the district?

Education is not one-size-fits-all. Rather than asking how charter schools have impacted our district, we should be asking how school choice is currently utilized to ensure each child is provided the best opportunity for a lifetime of success. Choice is much greater than charter or neighborhood schools. Parents can select if a career and technical education, alternative school, charter school or which neighborhood school will provide the best learning environment for their child’s learning style, goals and needs. We can strengthen our district by proactively and collaboratively planning to maximize choice while still maintaining efficient district operations. 

What is your assessment of Thomas Tucker’s job performance since becoming superintendent last year?

True leaders impact, influence and inspire their community. Despite incredible challenges in his first year of employment, Dr. Tucker has consistently been a strong leader. Our community supported a critical funding measure for the first time in 12 years, which directly impacted and improved our district. Dr. Tucker hired a phenomenal chief academic officer to influence and advance student performance and fundamental instructional practices.

Fifty-two teachers have returned to DCSD because they are inspired by the current positive momentum. I see a true leader in Dr. Tucker and believe he will continue to excel in his role as superintendent.

Would you be in favor of the reinstatement of a collective bargaining agreement between the district and the teachers’ union?

We have an absolute obligation to our employees to work collaboratively and compensate fairly with or without a formal agreement in place. Based on my professional experience, our district is simply not in a position at this time to accurately evaluate the potential effect of collective bargaining.

What issue or issues must the school board make a bigger priority next year than it has in recent years?

Our district will thrive with leaders who bring our community together rather than focusing on the issues that divide us. We all want our students to have unlimited opportunities for success. Even though we may disagree at times about the path, we can only achieve the common goal through unity.

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