Teen running for school board

Students upset by officials’ acts, Chaparral grad says

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A 2013 Chaparral High School graduate is running for a Douglas County School District board seat. Nicholas Land, 18, wants to unseat Meghann Silverthorn during the November 2013 election.

So does Ronda Scholting, a public relations consultant and former broadcast journalist who announced her intent in late May. Both Parker residents seek the District G seat.

Land is unaffiliated with a political party. Scholting is a Democrat and Silverthorn a Republican.

Silverthorn plans to seek re-election, making it a three-way race, though Land said he’ll consider stepping down if it appears his candidacy could split the vote in favor of the incumbent.

“I do want to be sure we can get Meghann out of office because I don’t think she’s doing the best for the district right now,” Land said.

Land believes his experiences within the school system give him a unique understanding. He served on the Douglas County Student Advisory Group, and was a reporter and business manager for Chaparral’s student newspaper.

“I know students who are upset with what the board is doing,” Land said. “I feel like there needs to be a student perspective on the board. Overall they are the most affected by the decisions the board makes.”

His upbringing also helped lead him to his decision to run.

“I’m an only child, so I had to mature quickly,” he said. “I’ve always talked with adults and always had a grasp of politics.”

Land said he supports pay for performance, but believes the controversial evaluation system “was implemented a little too quickly and haphazardly.” He said he saw teachers struggling to handle the additional classes most were required to teach under the block schedule introduced last fall at most DCSD high schools.

“I see these teachers trying to do the same amazing job they did before,” he said. “I felt the stress the teachers were having. I’m worried the way teachers are being treated right now in the district is slowly affecting the students.”

Land sees some of that fallout in the teachers leaving Chaparral. While DCSD currently shows 17 teachers are leaving the school, Land and others say the number is higher.

“The thing that really impacted me and persuaded me to do this was not only the teachers were leaving, but they were teachers who had been here for years who had loved the district and believed so much in what it stood for,” he said. “And now they’re choosing to leave.”

“My business model is very simple: A happy worker is an efficient worker. If teachers aren’t worried about their job security, salaries, or how they’re going to be judged by the district, if it’s a model they agree on and can understand very clearly, they can focus on being the best teacher they can in the classroom.”

While a Chaparral High School survey showed 67 percent of student respondents like the schedule, Land’s not sure it’s best for students.

“Both teachers and students were overwhelmed at times,” Land said. “(During off-periods,) I will admit openly I was often not doing homework. I was hanging out with friends.”

Land plans to study history at Metropolitan State University this fall, and ultimately work as a high school teacher.