School trustee wants four more years

Silverthorn aims to keep seat, continue innovation

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Incumbent Douglas County School District board member Meghann Silverthorn wants to keep moving the district forward, she said. To do that, she wants to serve four more years on the board.

“I’d like to continue the work we’re doing with the school system to prepare kids for the 21st century,” she said. “I think the American school system hasn’t been responsive to a lot of those needs. Here in Douglas County, I think we’ve done a good job with innovation and education.”

Silverthorn, elected to the board in 2009 as one of four successful candidates endorsed by the Douglas County Republicans, is seeking re-election in November. Two other candidates, Ronda Scholting and Nick Land, also are seeking the Parker-area District G seat.

The U.S. Department of Defense engineer is the only incumbent who formally has announced her intentions. Board members Carrie Mendoza and Doug Benevento have not yet said whether they will run again. Board president John Carson, whose term also expires this fall, is term-limited. 

Silverthorn and her husband Jeff don’t have children yet; she is the only board member who doesn’t have, or hasn’t had, children in the district. But the Parker resident believes both her background and the county’s demographics make hers a valuable voice. Growing up in a military family, she attended schools overseas and several in the United States. She saw room for improvement in the American education system, and viewed the board opening as her chance to help bring about some of that change. Additionally, Silverthorn said she speaks for an often overlooked portion of the county.

“If we have between 65 and 70 percent of our citizens that have no children in the school district, I feel I am well equipped to represent that voice,” she said.

Among the positive changes Silverthorn said the current board has enacted, she cited development of a Douglas County-specific curriculum, one that district officials believe is superior to the Common Core Standards. The district is developing new student assessments that will measure their academic progress, “not just based on a few state-mandated tests,” she said.

“The state-mandated tests are indicators, but they shouldn’t be markers,” Silverthorn said. “We want to be more comprehensive than that.”

She said she’s concerned about criticism leveled at the board in connection with its education reform efforts.

“I feel like there’s a lot of false narrative out there,” Silverthorn said. “People who say things like, ‘The board doesn’t value teachers,’ I just find all that to be a lot of distraction. I do think there’s an issue with morale. But I think a lot of it is based on the fact we haven’t had enough good conversations around these issues in the district.

“I’ve always been willing and ready to reach out to people and say, what is at the root of your concern here? This county is so full of people who have amazing idea, so how can we work together right now?”

Silverthorn said she wanted to continue the collective bargaining agreement with the teachers’ union that expired in 2012.

“I think that would have led to more stability,” she said. “Unfortunately, the rest of the board didn’t agree, so it’s sort of water under the bridge. That’s one of the places that I found myself in the minority.”