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2015 Cherry Creek School District School Board Candidate Profiles

To help voters get to know the candidates and their reasons for wanting to serve on Board of Education, the Cherry Creek School District asked each candidate to answer the following questions: 

  • What experiences and qualifications do you have that prepare you to be a member of the Board of Education in the Cherry Creek School District?
  • What is your relationship to the Cherry Creek School district and what experiences do you have with the schools that help prepare you for this role?
  • What experience do you have in working with the public or private sectors in the areas of budgeting and establishing policy?
  • Why are you running for the Board of Education and what will be your priorities if elected?

 

​District A

Eric Parish

Eric Parish 

What experiences and qualifications do you have that prepare you to be a member of the Board of Education in the Cherry Creek School District?

I am qualified to be a Cherry Creek School District Board Member because of both my professional and personal experience.  My personal experience is centered around our sons, who attend Campus Middle School and Willow Creek Elementary; I am an active volunteer at Willow Creek, where I was recognized as Willow Creek's Exceptional Volunteer of the Year.  It is because of my direct involvement in our children's schools, and their exceptional experiences at Cherry Creek Schools that I desire to give back to CCSD by serving on the Board. 

In addition, my professional experience of more than 25 years of national management consulting gives me a background to succeed as a member of the CCSD Board.  On a daily basis, I work to help public sector and nonprofit organizations identify costs, create efficiencies, and manage operations more effectively.  I work across the country with a variety of organizations, ranging in size from 50 employees to 3 million employees.  This work experience will allow me to be a valuable, effective member of the Board.

What is your relationship to the Cherry Creek School district and what experiences do you have with the schools that help prepare you for this role?

When my wife, two year old son and I moved to Colorado, we specifically chose to move into the Cherry Creek School District because of CCSD's reputation for excellence. On virtually a daily basis, my family's experience is that the District's reputation is well deserved.  Our sons are now thriving at Campus Middle School and at Willow Creek Elementary School.

I am an involved parent and recognized volunteer at our schools and with youth in our community. In addition to volunteering in our schools and classrooms, I invest time in coaching youth sports, serving on the Board of the Rocky Mountain Swim League, announcing at swim meets and volunteering with youth group.

What experience do you have in working with the public or private sectors in the areas of budgeting and establishing policy?

My work as a management consultant, with an emphasis on accounting and fiscal issues, gives me valuable experience working with public and private sector organizations to establish budgets and budget priorities, and align these priorities with strategic outcomes.  I primarily interact with CFOs, COOs, and CEOs to understand my clients organizational culture, mission, and how to align those with optimal fiscal and managerial outcomes.  I have a proven ability to manage projects in a collaborative manner within budgets and deadlines. In addition, I have a demonstrated ability to deliver client-focused results while working with all levels of organizations and stakeholders.  My professional experiences make me an excellent candidate to serve on the CCSD School Board.

Why are you running for the Board of Education and what will be your priorities if elected?

I am running for the Board because I value the experiences that our children individually, and family collectively, have had with Cherry Creek Schools.  I will work diligently to insure that CCSD's excellence continues and advances for current and future generations of students and families.

I support excellent neighborhood schools that enable all children to succeed and thrive. I believe in local control and doing what is right for each neighborhood school.  I believe the school board should remain apolitical and about kids, and only kids.

My priorities for serving on the Board are Accountability, Budget and Collaboration:

As a Board Member, I will be accountable to students, parents, community members and district stakeholders while promoting a professional environment that holds these same groups equally accountable for meeting high standards and expectations. 

Budget stewardship and financial decisions will be deliberate, measurable and aligned with desired district goals. Fiscal decisions will focus on doing what is right for students and our neighborhood schools, which benefits district residents by protecting and preserving property values. 

I will work collaboratively with the administration, classroom teachers, parents, students and stakeholders so that priorities are met, innovative progress is made and success is realized.  As a registered Independent, I stand for students and schools over politics and ideology. 

 

 

District B

 

David Aarestad 

David Aarestad 

What experiences and qualifications do you have that prepare you to be a member of the Board of Education in the Cherry Creek School District?

I am an attorney, graduating from Georgetown University Law Centre in 1999 and in private practice for sixteen years, mostly practicing corporate and securities law.  From this I have gained strong skills at reading and interpreting financial statements as well as understanding how organizations operate in a highly regulated environment.

I served as a member of the Colorado Special Education Advisory Committee (COSEAC), an advisory body advising the Colorado Department of Education and the State Board of Education.  On COSEAC I chaired the bylaws subcommittee, co-chaired the legislation and public policy analysis subcommittee and was a member of the Executive Committee.  I was an inaugural member of the Educational Dispute Resolution Committee of the Colorado Department of Education.  I have served on the boards of directors of numerous non-profit organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association (RMDSA), the Augustana Early Learning Center and the Council for Augustana Lutheran Church.  I have served as the board secretary for RMDSA and I am presently the vice president for the council of Augustana Lutheran Church.  I was also the vice chair of the Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Education Fund, a donor-advised fund. 

I want to bring the experience I've gained from other non-profit boards to the Cherry Creek School District to keep the district strong for my kids, the way it was when I was a student here.

What is your relationship to the Cherry Creek School district and what experiences do you have with the schools that help prepare you for this role?

Cherry Creek is an amazing area of the city of Denver.  My parents moved to the area when I was three, my father going from active service to reserve and settling here.  They moved to this part of town because of the great reputation Cherry Creek Schools had in the 1970s.

I grew up in Cherry Creek, in the very district I want to represent now.  I went to Eastridge, Prairie and Overland, kindergarten through twelfth, graduating in 1986.  I went out of state for law school and was practicing in London when my daughter was born over there.  My wife and I talked and decided that there was no place in the world we would rather raise our kids than in the Cherry Creek School District.  So in December 2004 we moved back here.

I now have two kids in Cherry Creek schools, a daughter at Prairie, and a son in fourth grade at the Challenge School.  Before this year, both my kids attended Polton Community Elementary in the Dam West.  

It's been a privilege getting reacquainted with the district I grew up in.  At Polton I volunteered in the classroom from 2008-2013.  I was a member of the school accountability committee from 2008-2015, serving as either chair or co-chair of the committee from 2009-2015.  I was a member of the district accountability committee from 2009-2014, and served for one year on the SB-191 subcommittee (setting up standards for teacher and administrator accountability under state law SB-191).

I want to bring together the strength of the history of the District, together with experience both in the classroom and the District now and add to it some knowledge of what other districts across the State of Colorado face – where our concerns are shared across other districts as well.

What experience do you have in working with the public or private sectors in the areas of budgeting and establishing policy?

I was primarily a securities attorney for large national and international securities offerings from 2000-2008.  This requires an in-depth understanding of financial statements and the accounting practices that go into creating them.  This experience in securities law has been very helpful in each of the non-profit boards on which I served where I was expected to review and approve budgets as well as financial milestones along the way.  Each of district accountability and school accountability committees have some voice on matters of district and school policies, respectively.

Why are you running for the Board of Education and what will be your priorities if elected?

I spent my childhood in Cherry Creek and I want the same great experience for my kids.  My Overland High School education strongly prepared me for college, graduate school and law school.  With all the turbulence we see in other districts in the state, now is the time for Cherry Creek to keep its brand as the top school district in Colorado. 

The safety and education of our kids come first.  I want to look at expanding bus transportation to alleviate the distance our kids have to travel across unsafe areas like busy roads.  I want to examine what flexibility we can have to have high school start times begin later in the morning when the kids can get the most out of instruction time.

 

Matt Batcho

 Matt Bacho

What experience and qualifications do you have that prepare you to be a
member of the board of education in the cherry creek school district?

I am the proud parent of 2 daughters and have been actively involved with their school for over 6 years. I served as the PTCO President at Polton Elementary for 2 years. I have also served as Building Coordinator for the 2012 Budget & Bond campaign. For the last 2 years I have served as the District B representative on the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee (LRFPC), the only committee that requires an appointment by the Board of Education. Through my service on LRFPC, I have helped determine boundaries for the district’s newest school, Mountain Vista, voted on moving schedules from year round to transitional and many other important decisions which influence the successful operations of the district.

What is your relationship to the cherry creek school district and what
experiences do you have with the schools that help prepare you for this role?

My wife and I have lived in the district now for 13 years. I have 1 daughter that attends 6th grade at Prairie Middle School, and one that attends 2nd grade at Polton Community Elementary school. As a family we have lived in district B for the entire 13 years. I have volunteered in classrooms. I have also developed great relationships with each of the administrators and teachers throughout the years in the community. I also had the pleasure of serving as PTCO president for 2 years which provided me an inside look at how schools operate, educate and involve parents in providing a successful experience for our students and their families.

What experience do you have working with the public or private sectors in the areas of budgeting and establishing policy?

I was on the board in Cherokee Home Owners Association for 9 years, of which I was Vice President for 6 of those years. As a board we developed a budget each year. We were also able to put money in reserves for major projects that we always stayed within budget on. I was also head of a Major project of painting and repairing each house. This project was a $500,000 project that we stayed within budget. As a board we also made changes and reestablished new policies while the community changed.

Why are you running for the Board of Education and what will be your priorities if elected?

I am running for board of education to be a voice and make a difference for 54,000+ kids in the Cherry Creek area. I love working with children and it is extremely important to me to see not only my own children succeed, but all our students succeed and learn. I look forward to working with administrators to ensure the excellence in the district. I would like to look at the current state & federal testing as I feel this arena has grown too large. It is important to evaluate which tests are relevant to our students and will provide the timeliest feedback to our teachers. At the of the day, I am a dad who is passionate about Cherry
Creek and wants to help make a difference for all kids and their futures. 

 

Vince Chowdhury

Vince Chowdhury 

What experience and qualifications do you have that prepare you to be a member of the board of education in the Cherry Creek School District?

I had been involved with my children's schools from Kindergarten to High Schools. Since my business was based at home and I had the flexibility of time to attend their school activities such as PTA, Accountability Committee, Parent Teachers Conference, Field Days and many other school activities. Basically I was Mr. Mum.

I have also served on some of the leadership positions such as district PTA chair and Co-Chair of Accountability Committee.

These involvements eventually helped me to be on Jefferson County School Board for about 8 years.

What is your relationship to the Cherry Creek School District and what experiences do you have with the schools that help prepare you for this role?

Through my involvements with many Boards and Commissions for the City of Aurora and Arapahoe County, I have kept in touch with matters related to Cherry Creek School District. I have helped with Bond and Mill Levy election and attended stakeholders meetings.

I am the current Vice Chair for Aurora Fox Theater Board and I have spoken with Cherry Creek School Board Member to strength our partnership with the school district.

I am also the Vice Chair for City of Aurora Housing and Community Development Committee and often advocated for affordable housing availability for family with young children attending Cherry Creek and Aurora schools.

What experience do you have working with the public or private sectors in the areas of budgeting and establishing policy?

I am the current Vice Chair for City of Aurora Citizen's Advisory Budget Committee and we are involved in oversight and advisory role for the $642 Million in total City of Aurora Budget and $300 Million in General Fund Budget. I have also served on Arapahoe County Citizen's Budget Committee overseeing the $339 Million in total budget and $160 Million in General Fund budget. So I am familiar with Cherry Creek School District budget of $506 Million in General Fund. Since I serve on many Boards and Commissions, I have good knowledge of Public Policy matters.

Why are you running for the Board of Education and what will be your priorities if elected?

"It takes a village" to care for and educate our children. They are the future of our nation and the world.

I strongly believe in P-20 Educational System to create a more seamless and integrated educational experience for all students through Pre-School to Higher Education.

Rigorous coursework and experience that prepare students for college and career. Our students needs to master the skills and knowledge needed to compete in the ever-changing 21st century work force. Hands-On field experience and community outreach projects related to coursework and career studies.

Partnership with all stakeholders, students, parents, staffs, universities, community colleges, trade schools, businesses, community organizations and governmental agencies.

We need to make decisions based on what is best for our children. All effort should be made to listen to the needs of the community.

We need to set high standards for academic achievements for all students. We need to make sound management of the school financial resources and be transparent and accountable.

School Board Members needs to be accessible and responsive to the community. We need to adopt Teacher, Parent and School Leadership curriculum design.

We must enforce a safe, welcoming and healthy school learning environment. We need to emphasis in educating the "whole child" in a result oriented learning environment.

Through my community involvements, I have established working relationship with many elected and community leaders at Federal, State, County, City and other local levels, this will allow me to be an effective member of Cherry Creek School Board.

 

Janice R. McDonald, AA, BA

Janice McDonald 

What experiences and qualifications do you have that prepare you to be a member of the Board of Education in the Cherry Creek School District?

  • I have an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Management.
  • I have been a resident of CCSD since 1975 and have seen the school district evolve.
  • My 5 children have attended Cheery Creek schools, starting in elementary and graduating from Overland High School.
  • I currently have grandchildren in the District. 

What is your relationship to the Cherry Creek School district and what experiences do you have with the schools that help prepare you for this role?

  • I taught Early Childhood education for Head Start in Denver and Pre-School and Pre Kindergarten classes for the City of Aurora Parks and Recreation
  • I worked for CCSD for 24 years (Smoky Hill High School and Prairie Middle School)
  • I was a licensed substitute teacher for many years
  • I have volunteered countless hours within the Cherry Creek School District
  • Past Director Odom Memorial Church Community Drug Bust Counseling Center (Responsibility included setting budget, policies and procedures)
  • Coordinator Women's Ministry Odom Memorial Church (Denver, CO)

     

What experience do you have in working with the public or private sectors in the areas of budgeting and establishing policy?

  • Board Member and Past Chair – Aurora Human Relations Commission
  • Member – National Association of Human Rights Workers
  • Member – Aurora Key Community Response Team
  • Member – NAACP Aurora Branch
  • Member – Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
  • City of Aurora Refugee & Immigrant Task Force
  • Past Board Member – Aurora Mental Health
  • Former Volunteer Colorado Mental Health Association

     

Why are you running for the Board of Education and what will be your priorities if elected?

I have been committed to this community for forty plus years and I believe that I will bring a unique perspective uniting family, schools and community in meaningful partnerships. If elected, as a board member I will continue to be committed, committed to the sustained improvement of student learning and performance. Our District must continue to stay focused on its goals to ensure Excellence and Equity and College and Post-Secondary Preparedness and Success for EVERY STUDENT.

I am running for the Board of Education because I want to echo the interest of all students and to particularly be accountable to my constituency in District B. My focus as a member of the CCSD Board of Education, will be simple… the education of our children so that we meet our goals.

 

 

District C

 

 Dave Willman

Dave Willman 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What experiences and qualifications do you have that prepare you to be a member of the Board of Education in the Cherry Creek School District?

I am married at 21 years plus now to Justine, a current State of Colorado employee.

3 daughters – Chelsea 22, a new public school educator, Lindsey 20, a Civil Engineering Major at the University of Arizona, and Iris 20, a Global Studies Major at D.U. currently studying abroad in France.

All Smoky Hill High School Graduates and successful students because of Cherry Creek School District.

I am currently a small business owner, Tactical Fitness, and I am the controller of the company, handling all aspects of accounting and operations.

I love nonprofits that do good works for our community and society. I currently serve on the YMCA Metro Denver Board of Directors, Aurora, and also am a charter member of the Aurora Southlands Rotary Club, a division of Rotary International.

Volunteer positions on school and district accountability committees and parent, teacher and community organizations were the first steps that would eventually lead to a successful campaign for a school board position in 2011.

What is your relationship to the Cherry Creek School district and what experiences do you have with the schools that help prepare you for this role?

As a stakeholder and parent in the Cherry Creek School District, I was always drawn to the parent engagement of the school district, and loved growing up with my own parent's active in my schooling. I always attended public education and as an adult, I was interested how public education helps community. I was an active parent in my children's schools as well as other students schools, as I coached youth girls volleyball and soccer during my children's youth. Most of these students went to various schools through the school district and I would attend and volunteer at events.

I was also interested in how the district ran its student business, as well as teacher advocacy as I saw how effective this relationship was for my student's growth and success.

I had visited many of the district's schools in prior years before even becoming a school board of education member.

What experience do you have in working with the public or private sectors in the areas of budgeting and establishing policy?

I am currently a small business owner, Tactical Fitness, and I am the controller of the company, handling all aspects of accounting and operations including contract administration, grant writing and human resource management. We have been in business several years now.

I love nonprofits that do good works for our community and society. I currently serve on the YMCA Metro Denver Board of Directors, Aurora, and also am a charter member of the Aurora Southlands Rotary Club, a division of Rotary International and as a Board of Director for the Cherry Creeks Schools Foundation, the past 3 years.

As the current Treasurer, of the Cherry School District No. 5, I am responsible for the successful annual audit and monthly budgeting and transparency for the district.

I served on the BOCES of the past two years at the Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning in Denver, CO, and the past year in the President's role at this organization.

I once served as Chair for the City of Aurora's Citizen Budget Advisory Committee as well, as the Committee for Housing and Community Development, which allowed me to analyze several City Financial documents, recommending federal and local grants opportunities, and advising city council on various action plan processes.

Why are you running for the Board of Education and what will be your priorities if elected?

As the current incumbent Cherry Creek Schools Board of Education member, I am running again to protect our mission, Dedicated to Excellence, for every student. 

My priorities continue to be student achievement programming for every student, excellent neighborhood schools, and continual improvement throughout the organization, rigor and opportunity in all facets of our organization from academic to activities and athletics, and finally safety, safety and safety.

This will be accomplished through making sure fair and just fiscal funding happens for every student and every school at every funding level, reviewing safety plans regularly, directing our Superintendent in the best direction for our school district, and full accountability for student achievement for every student.

 

 

 

 

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