School board as cornerstone of American society

School boards have their roots in the American democratic process, which dates back more than 200 years to the town meetings of the colonial era.

While local governance has evolved significantly since the days of our forefathers, the essential function of a school board has not changed much: provide local control over public education. Elected board directors represent their community, advocate for students and schools, create and oversee local education policy, monitor budgets and spending and direct and evaluate the superintendent.

The Colorado Constitution establishes the state government's responsibility to provide a "thorough and uniform system of free public schools" (Article 9, Section 2). Each district retains local control over the education of its children. Colorado school districts educate their students as required by state standards in accordance with local beliefs and priorities.

Eagle County Schools strives to achieve its mission: Teach the children of Eagle County to have creative and active minds, compassion for others, enthusiasm for lifelong learning and the courage to act on their dreams by exceeding the requirements set forth by the state and federal governments. We acknowledge that there is a lot of work to be done and remain grateful for the support of our local community.

Colorado has 178 school districts serving more than 900,000 students statewide. Districts range in size from small rural areas with fewer than 60 students to the more than 91,000 students enrolled in Denver Public Schools. The majority of Colorado's school districts have fewer than 6,000 students.

This fall, we anticipate enrollment in Eagle County Schools to reach nearly 8,000 students. Each district is governed by a local board of education composed of five to seven directors elected at large or from specific director districts. Eagle County's board of education has seven directors elected from the specific director district where they reside. This geographic distribution ensures that there is a voice from each community up and down the valley. County voters cast their ballots for candidates district wide, ensuring the entire community has a say in who will guide the work of education.

Board of education directors are elected to four-year terms and are term limited after two four-year terms. Sometimes directors are appointed to fill vacancies, which result in two-year terms. Board director seats are up for re-election in odd-numbered years with specific districts rotating; three seats coming open alternating with four seats open every other year, in order to maintain a balance of veteran and new directors.

November 2017 will have director Districts B, E, F and G on the ballot. Incumbents will be seeking re-election in Districts B and G, but Districts E and F will have open director seats. More information about the county districting areas is available on the school district website, www.eagleschools.net.

Public education is one of the great American institutions. Our nation set out to create a system that provides education to all young people in order to establish an educated society. Local boards of education oversee the schooling of the students in their area.

Our board directors are elected by the local electorate, our funding comes from the taxpayers, and we are required to comply with state and federal legislation; public education is a complex, interdependent and ever-evolving institution that requires involvement of the public on many levels. On behalf of the Eagle County Schools Board of Education, I gratefully acknowledge the support of our community in the complex work of education.

Kate Cocchiarella is the president of the Board of Education of Eagle County Schools. She can be reached at kate.cocchiarella@eagleschools.net