Debora Scheffel has lived in Parker for more than 10 years. She holds a master’s degree in special education from the University of Denver, a doctorate from Northwestern University and a post-doctorate from the University of California San Diego.
Scheffel worked as a teacher in Douglas County and a professor at the University of Northern Colorado and University of Colorado Denver. She represented the 6th Congressional District on the Colorado State Board of Education for one term.
Scheffel is currently the dean of Colorado Christian University School of Education.
Contact: deborah@el evatedouglascounty.com
Campaign website: elevatedouglascounty.com
Why do you want to serve on the board of education?
I want to serve to ensure that every student in Douglas County can thrive and succeed to fulfill his/her potential, to ensure that parents have many choices to find the best educational experience for their child and to support teachers who are the core of an excellent educational experience.
Following years of dissension, what can be done to bring a sense of unity to the Douglas County School District community?
The way to bring unity to the community is by restoring respect for teachers and supporting them with the resources needed to be successful. We need to restore order to school board meetings by insisting on civil discourse, modeling respectful behavior when there are legitimate differences, and by putting politics aside to keep instructional excellence, student needs, and teacher support at the core of all decisions.
What are the most important traits to look for in the next superintendent?
Douglas County needs a proven consensus builder, who has great personal skills, and is a good listener that will listen to all perspectives. We need an advocate for teachers, students and parents. We need someone with a vision for innovation and academic excellence and who will continue the current stability and leadership for the district.
Should interim Superintendent Erin Kane be considered for the job on a permanent basis?
Yes, Erin has been an excellent consensus builder. She has reached out to all the schools in the district. She has been an excellent listener and has responded to teachers’ feedback, specifically on the pay-for-performance system that has been implemented. Erin has done everything that a great leader would do and she should be permanently appointed.
Is the increasing number of charter schools in Douglas County good for the school district?
Traditional public schools and public charter schools serve the interest and needs of parents, students and teachers in our county. Student education needs are diverse, varying and changing throughout the students’ experience in K-12 education. Therefore, a range of opportunities, whether in neighborhood public schools or public charter schools are essential to ensure students’ diverse needs are met to fulfill their potential.
Do you support the use of taxpayer-funded vouchers to pay for students to get an education at a private school?
Douglas County piloted a scholarship program that was not allowed to continue. The issue of scholarships is currently moot in Douglas County as that program was not able to continue. The issue rests with the courts and the public deserves an answer on whether the previously piloted scholarship program is constitutional in Colorado. Individuals on both sides of this issue and the public deserve an answer. If the courts decide that this program is viable in Colorado, then we will have a discussion with the community about whether this makes sense for Douglas County.
Would you be in favor of a larger influence by the teachers’ union?
I don’t believe that Douglas County teachers are best represented by positioning a teachers’ union between employers and employees. Teachers are their own best advocates and by seeding their voices to a teachers’ union, funds are diverted from an instructional focus in the district. These resources could be better spent in the classroom and on teachers to give them the resources that they need. However, should teachers want to join a union, I support the organization, but not if it is used as a leveraging measure.
What can be done to allow the district to keep its best and most experienced teachers at a higher rate?
90-plus-percent of current teachers in Douglas County have been rated highly effective by the district evaluation system. Thus, Douglas County is employing some of the very best teachers in our state. However, turnover rates have been too high and Douglas County needs to find resources to pay teachers as professionals, competitive with surrounding districts. That said, the most predominant reason teachers leave a district is because they seek respect and being treated as a professional. Douglas County needs to bring respect back into the district.
Would you support a ballot measure to help the district pay for capital improvements?
I applaud the work of district leadership in identifying needs in the district including capital improvements. However, the first step before requesting additional funds from the public is to restore trust, by making sure current funds are being spent efficiently focusing on instruction in a safe and enabling environment.