Ryan Abresch has lived in Douglas County for three years. He currently lives in Sedalia. Abresch is a licensed attorney and works as a legal research analyst for an online legal publishing company. Prior, he worked as a deputy district attorney in Pueblo.
Abresch has a J.D. from the Valparaiso University School of Law in Indiana and a B.A. from James Madison University in Virginia, where he majored in political science and minored in history.
Contact: ryan@elevatedouglas county.com
Campaign website: www.elevate douglascounty.com
Why do you want to serve on the board of education?
Our daughter is in the first grade. I feel that my background as a young parent and my experience as a researcher and an attorney would provide some fresh perspective to the district, and would help alleviate some of the discord that has plagued the district in recent years.
Following years of dissension, what can be done to bring a sense of unity to the Douglas County School District community?
I think that developing trust is paramount toward bringing a sense of unity back to the district. In order to do this, I think it starts from the top. I think we need board that actively works towards building good relationships with staff and teachers. We need a board that is willing to listen to all of our community, including teachers, parents, students, and taxpayers. Lastly, we need a board that is willing to work together to find creative, innovative solutions to the problems that are facing the district.
What are the most important traits to look for in the next superintendent?
The next superintendent should establish great communication with the staff and teachers that make up the district. Our superintendent should exemplify great leadership and not take a heavy-handed, top-down approach, especially in respect to curriculum. And lastly, our superintendent must take a serious approach toward our budget.
Should interim Superintendent Erin Kane be considered for the job on a permanent basis?
Without a doubt. She has demonstrated all of the qualities we need in a superintendent. Her consistent leadership has helped boost morale. She has met with leaders in each district school, not taken a top-down approach in her management style, and has found savings in our budget.
Is the increasing number of charter schools in Douglas County good for the school district?
My daughter is in the first grade and attends a charter school. I am a charter parent. Charter schools provide the community with schools that feature a streamlined management system that affords opportunities for greater innovation, and greater cost savings. They are responsible for their own construction costs as well. Their presence in the district helps alleviate potential issues of cost and overcrowding, as well as providing additional choice for parents. I believe they are good for the district, but, at the same time, we do not need a board acting as a rubber stamp on their behalf.
Do you support the use of taxpayer-funded vouchers to pay for students to get an education at a private school?
This question is tied to a court case involving the district that is at the end stage of a long litigation process. This case has raised an important constitutional question regarding school choice, as state and federal interpretations on these scholarship programs have been in conflict for some time. Provided this case does not cost the district tax money, I support this matter reaching a decision so that the public can receive some guidance in this area. At that point I would love to be a part of a conversation with the community on whether to introduce a scholarship program.
Would you be in favor of a larger influence by the teachers’ union?
If we are concerned with bringing a sense of unity back to the district, then I am not sure how a larger influence from the teachers’ union helps. Why would we want to make the atmosphere even more adversarial than it already is? We should not have outside parties inserting themselves in conversations the district is having with our teachers and staff. Additionally, we have a district with budgetary concerns, expanding union involvement in such an atmosphere does not seem to be a wise fiscal move.
What can be done to allow the district to keep its best and most experienced teachers at a higher rate?
Douglas County has great teachers — if we didn’t, our neighbors wouldn’t constantly try to poach them from our district. Part of this is an issue that could ultimately be decided by the taxpayer. Beyond that, we need to be confident that resources are being allocated smartly in order to better retain our great teachers. We need to boost morale my making sure each teacher knows they are respected and listened to by the district. We also need to alleviate burdensome bureaucratic obstacles, such as needless paperwork, so that teachers can do what they were meant to do — teach.
Would you support a ballot measure to help the district pay for capital improvements?
The two most recent ballot measures have failed. In the recent community survey, the public recognized that our district needs additional funding, and we recognize this too. However, the same survey indicated that they overwhelmingly felt that the district was not spending the money already allocated to them in a wise manner. I feel that before a ballot measure can be put forward, this basic sense of trust with the community needs to be restored, or it will be voted down like the previous two.