Q&A with Gunnison Watershed School District’s newest board member

Goal to get parents involved from both ends of the valley

[ By Kendra Walker ]

On November 8, Mandy Roberts became the newest member of the Gunnison Watershed school board when she recited her oath to a packed crowd at Crested Butte Community School. Roberts submitted a petition for election to fill one of the four open seats, and was appointed along with incumbents Tyler Martineau, LeeAnn Mick, Dave Taylor, and Anne Brookhart. The Crested Butte News reached out to her to learn more about her, her goals for the school district and her thoughts on the contentious topics responsible for putting the school district in the spotlight right now. Here’s what she had to say.

How long have you lived in the Gunnison Valley?
My family and I moved to the beautiful Gunnison Valley seven years ago. Since that time, our family has grown from seven to eight. The area is a great place to raise a family, horses, cats, dogs, chickens, ducks and goats.

What is your involvement in the community/how would folks know you?
Our church is my community project. I spend a fair amount of time on many projects for the ministry. I’m out and about in the community daily getting to know new friends and strengthening relationships with the community. I jokingly say, “The grocery store is my home away from home.” I truly enjoy chatting with community folks from the grocery store to the post office, and all my stops in between.

What are you up to on a typical weekend?
On a typical weekend we all enjoy family time. You can find us at a Mountaineers game, hiking, fishing, camping or just enjoying what the valley and surrounding area has to offer. I have many hobbies. Besides my family, I enjoy horseback riding, playing guitar and hunting.

What inspired you to run for the School Board seat?
I have often thought about how I might contribute to the community through the school board. I certainly have a skill set from homeschooling children that other board members do not have. When I became aware of the opening for a school board seat I gave the opportunity serious prayer and consideration, but not for long. I wanted to make a contribution in this community. Something I love? Helping make positive choices in the best interest of children. I do love children, and I look forward to seeing the children in our community succeed.

What are your general goals to accomplish in the next four years as a member of the school board?
During my four years as a school board member, a main goal is to get parents involved from both ends of the valley. I believe it’s crucial to our children’s education to have parent’s participation. There are a number of issues that must be resolved. As an example, an important situation is the school kitchen and lunch program in CBCS. There are others, such as needed school crossing guards. I believe these are issues that need to be expeditiously solved as a community.

What did you think of your first meeting with a full house of people in CB and Zoom?
I was excited to see the parents and other residents in the valley involved at the September and November board meetings. I truly believe parents should be active in their children’s lives, including an engaged participation in the school system that occupies a big portion of a child’s development.

Given the obvious interest and controversy going on with things like the district’s mask mandate and debate of Critical Race Theory – where do you stand on those big issues being faced by the board right now?
The health and welfare of our children is a high priority for me. Regarding COVID, the data for inoculating our children is not persuasive for me at this time. The mask requirement is limiting children’s ability to interact with others and grow their social development. Masks may reduce the volume of aerosols in the environment but certainly do not contain them all. Everyone will be in a better place when the requirement is lifted and parents get to make their own choice as to what’s best for their child.

Equity and inclusion: For most parents, this gives the impression that all children are equal and will be included. This does not mean that children will carry with them some ancestral deeds that must somehow be burdened through their life. Children must be provided a positive learning environment. They should come home feeling good about themselves, and not on a fabricated guilt trip. Children should be anxious to tell their family about what they learned in school that day.

You have been accused in the community and on social media as being a representative of the national right wing political agenda…does that bother you?
My representation is to God, family, church and now the school board. I will listen to all perspectives brought to me for consideration.

You homeschool your children. Is it not odd to you that you are now a decision maker for the school district and what happens on the Re1J campuses?
With homeschooling, I believe there are important insights that I can bring to the school district. It’s a great privilege to be on the board.

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