Home > Awareness Alerts, District Meeting Updates, Informational > Monument Academy Meet the Candidates Night – Candidate Questions & Responses

Monument Academy Meet the Candidates Night – Candidate Questions & Responses

October 22, 2011

This was recently posted to the Monument Academy Charter School website:

Prior to the ‘Host the Candidates Night’ at Monument Academy Charter School on October 12, 2011, each of the six candidates were provided the following questions. Based upon changes made by the moderator, only questions 1 through 8 were asked. Written responses to questions 9 and 10 have been included for completeness. The audience submitted additional questions. Two of the questions were posed to the candidates and received verbal responses that evening. Unfortunately, the event was not recorded and the extemporaneous responses to the questions are not included in this record.


Question: Please tell us a bit about yourself and why you want to become a board member.
John Mann – John Mann did not provide a written response.

Alfred Maurer – Alfred Maurer did not provide a written response.

Mark Pfoff
My wife Helen and I have lived in the Monument area for about 15 years and have two children attending D38 schools. I am currently a Detective with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office specializing in Computer Crimes and Internet Crimes against Children. Prior to joining the Sheriff’s Office full time in 2003 I was a computer engineer for 20 years working for multiple companies to include Digital Equipment Corporation and MCI Telecommunications.
Having been on the Lewis-Palmer School Board for 4 years, currently as Treasurer, I have gained considerable knowledge about school finance, the educational system, and how to successfully govern a school district. I have attended many school functions which provided me insights concerning our schools.
It has been a privilege serving this community. My only desire to be on the school board is for our children and our community. I am not a member of any special interest group or have any agenda other than providing a quality education to our children in a safe and secure environment.
When I joined the school board there was issues with finances, trust and transparency, and a lack of vision. I’m proud that in the last few years we have balanced the budget, have made great strides on transparency, trust, and have a vision for our school district.

Gordon Reichal
I want to contribute to our nation & community by helping District 38 prepare our kids to be ready for the future as knowledgeable leaders who are well grounded in the traditions and values of our nation and who are well prepared to compete internationally in their future careers and pursue their individual hopes and desires.
We need a consolidated approach for all our kids to expand their knowledge and participate in how their future is being determined within our District. I believe we need to provide our kids with individual career tracks that focus coursework on their talents and not a form-fit everyone into one-size fits all mold. I want to actively reach out to the entire community and advocate for volunteer opportunities for our seniors and families currently without children in D38 or MA. We have a responsibility to support all taxpayer interests in D38 services.

Robb Pike – Robb Pike did not provide a written response.

Ken Valdez – Ken Valdez did not provide a written response.

Question 1: What is your vision for education in this community?
John Mann – John Mann did not provide a written response.

Alfred Maurer – Alfred Maurer did not provide a written response.

Mark Pfoff
Lewis-Palmer is one of the top school districts in the state and is doing a great job educating our children. We not only prepare them for their next educational challenge; we also create lifelong learners. Going forward, our school district needs to continually evaluate where we are and where we need to be to continue the educational tradition Lewis-Palmer is known for. I’m proud our school district goes beyond traditional education and provides our students skills needed to be successful in our competitive world.

Gordon Reichal

  • Return to an inclusive approach to education that reaches out to the entire community actively seeking new ideas for innovation.
  • Involve our kids directly in the decision making about THEIR FUTURES and energize them for the love of learning.
  • Collaborate with other school districts to receive the best value for our educational buck.

In summary, we deserve a School Board that creates a Strategic Vision, and who acknowledges and faithfully reports to the community on all District matters in a clear and open manner.

Robb Pike – Robb Pike did not provide a written response.

Ken Valdez – Ken Valdez did not provide a written response.

Question 2: What are the current challenges facing the D-38 Board of Education?
John Mann – John Mann did not provide a written response.

Alfred Maurer – Alfred Maurer did not provide a written response.

Mark Pfoff
Unfortunately, state funding is at the top of the list. Over the past 4 years we have cut the budget by over 7 million dollars. If reductions continue, which is most likely, we will have to again re-evaluate every aspect of the district and determine where additional cuts can be made that will have minimal impacts to our students and staff. We also need to look into additional ways to increase revenues which includes increasing enrollment by advertising the district. In the past we have not promoted our district the way we should.

Gordon Reichal
Speaking to folks over the last several months at the Farmers Markets and at Representative Steven’s Direction 38 Education forums, I hear a growing disconnect between our taxpayers, our families, and the District on issues ranging from school redistricting, district resistance to financial reporting, spending decision transparency, yoyo decisions on To Bus or Not To Bus or Charge to Bus, and on and on. During John Borman’s short time as our new Superintendent, he has also set a goal of returning to a more open exchange with the community. Finally, Monument Academy is a part of our community educational opportunities. District 38 includes MA in our system and we should maintain a fair and open relationship at all times, not just at contract renewal time.

Robb Pike – Robb Pike did not provide a written response.

Ken Valdez – Ken Valdez did not provide a written response.

Question 3: D-38 loses approximately 400 students a year to surrounding districts. Why do you think this is happening and what would you do about this trend as a Board member?
John Mann – John Mann did not provide a written response.

Alfred Maurer – Alfred Maurer did not provide a written response.

Mark Pfoff
I completely support parents’ right to choose the school they believe will provide the best education for their child. Having said that, we need to understand the reasons why they choice out of D38. I am not sure 400 is accurate, these numbers change from year to year and as there are some going out of the district there is a large number of students who are open enrolling into
our district. Due to funding and the size of our district some options that would bring more students to our district are not financially possible. We need to focus on what we do great and do it even better. So far this year we have approximately 120 more students attendingD38 than expected. Every year these numbers will fluctuate, but we need to work hard to market our district.

Gordon Reichal
I attended a meeting with departing parents in April to discuss this very topic. It was not pretty. The primary reason many parents voiced was they felt D38 was NOT willing to listen to their individual family needs. Basically, they resented the “My Way or the Highway” attitude when requesting some individual consideration for their unique family circumstance. Several parents especially resented the attitude that “Public schools have to accept everyone and can’t turn away students like MA does”.
Personally, I believe it is an honor and a privilege to be entrusted with the education of all our kids and it is our responsibility to help in all ways possible. Anyone with an attitude that it is our “burden” to accept all kids is not going to fly with me.

Robb Pike – Robb Pike did not provide a written response.

Ken Valdez – Ken Valdez did not provide a written response.

Question 4: What single change, if you could wave a ‘magic wand’, would you make regarding the D-38 education system?
John Mann – John Mann did not provide a written response.
Alfred Maurer – Alfred Maurer did not provide a written response.

Mark Pfoff
Change how we fund our school districts. It makes no sense that 6 school districts (to include D38) in El Paso County are “Floor” funded, which means they receive the least amount of funding allowed by the state. Why does the state believe our kids do not deserve the same amount of funding as other districts within the state? I believe in local control of schools; every dollar the state gives to other districts is another dollar we could use to educate our children. There needs to be a more equitable way to fund our schools.

Gordon Reichal
We must provide and actively support a blended approach to education. As Rep. Stevens has stated many times, “I am in favor of education, in all its forms”. We must provide a flexible course structure that is fine tuned to our kids’ individual needs as well as their families and take advantage of the best programs available to turn the magic into reality.

Robb Pike – Robb Pike did not provide a written response.

Ken Valdez – Ken Valdez did not provide a written response.

Question 5: What kind of relationship should a school board and district have with its community/parents/families?
John Mann – John Mann did not provide a written response.

Alfred Maurer – Alfred Maurer did not provide a written response.

Mark Pfoff
The School Board’s primary responsibility is “Public Oversight”. How can a school board do that if they are not continually interacting with the community? The Board needs to obtain feedback from all segments of the community and provide the superintendent clear direction. We need to work together with the community to build not only a successful school system, but a successful community. This is one of the things that makes Lewis-Palmer special. We have a great community.

Gordon Reichal
We all want the best for our kids from the country, the State of Colorado, and our community. We must address any D38 challenge from a team approach contributing ideas and working towards finding a mutual solution. We know there will be tough choices to be made and we know our entire community wants to trust in fair consideration and solutions for everyone’s vision and needs.

Robb Pike – Robb Pike did not provide a written response.

Ken Valdez – Ken Valdez did not provide a written response.

Question 6: What are your thoughts on charter schools, home schooling and online schools?
John Mann – John Mann did not provide a written response.

Alfred Maurer – Alfred Maurer did not provide a written response.

Mark Pfoff
I completely support a parent’s right to parent. We should have the option of multiple schools, home schooling or online schools. Charter schools ensure school districts are providing the best
education possible. Competition is great for everyone involved. I would like to see D38 provide an online option and more support for our students being home schooled.

Gordon Reichal
All contribute to the total education solution and once again, are part of the blended innovation approach to meeting individual needs away from the one size fits all approach.
However, as we have seen in some educational alternatives, assessment of all program’s success must go hand-in-hand with innovation to ensure the education our kids are receiving in all offerings are competitive to public schools. MA is a prime example of how successful charters should involve family, instructional staff, and community involvement in education.

Robb Pike – Robb Pike did not provide a written response.

Ken Valdez – Ken Valdez did not provide a written response.

Question 7: What do you see as the primary work of the board?
John Mann – John Mann did not provide a written response.

Alfred Maurer – Alfred Maurer did not provide a written response.

Mark Pfoff
The Board of Education is a governing board which provides “Public Oversight”. It is not involved in the day to day operations of the district but rather has the goal of communicating the values of the community to the superintendent with clearly defined expectations. The board, working together and speaking as one voice, sets the priorities for the district and supports the superintendent as the leader of the district.

Gordon Reichal Providing a safe environment for our kids, and creating the vision, programs, and required resources to take our K-12 children safely and successfully through their educational path to graduation and to prepare them for a successful life and career. MA getting the guard rail for highway 105 installed quickly is an example of a fully involved working school board. As I said at the D38 Meet The Candidates forum last week, we should not only hand our graduating seniors their diploma, but also hand them their future.
Our primary task and our ultimate reward is seeing “the light come on in their eyes” as knowledge is acquired and we have successfully nurtured their thirst for more knowledge throughout their life.

Robb Pike – Robb Pike did not provide a written response.

Ken Valdez – Ken Valdez did not provide a written response.

Question 8: What role does policy play in the functioning of the board?
John Mann – John Mann did not provide a written response.

Alfred Maurer – Alfred Maurer did not provide a written response.

Mark Pfoff
There are many policies, rules and state laws that play a role in how a school board operates. It is important they are followed to ensure the community has trust in the board. Good policies will help keep a school board on track when difficult decisions need to be made. Policies should be clear but not too restrictive as to tie the hands of the board.

Gordon Reichal
The board is the facilitator to ensure our educational systems work properly, are monitored for successful performance in delivering outstanding education to our kids, to advocate for creating an appreciation for life-long community involvement in learning, and to ensure financial responsibility, accountability, and transparency in all District activities. Policy sets the standards. Our community and our district make it work successfully within financial constraints. It really does Take A Village.

Robb Pike – Robb Pike did not provide a written response.

Ken Valdez – Ken Valdez did not provide a written response.

Question 9: How can a board know if its goals are being accomplished and its policies carried out?
John Mann – John Mann did not provide a written response.

Alfred Maurer – Alfred Maurer did not provide a written response.

Mark Pfoff
I believe it was Ronald Reagan who said; “Trust, but verify”.” The board provides clear direction to the superintendent who is responsible for implementing their wishes. There are multiple avenues available to a board to verify goals are being met and policies being carried out. With the budget you have independent audits every year, with student achievement you have CSAP and other tests, and with environmental goals you have direct feedback from staff. The key is making sure you find outside resources providing you feedback. This takes a great deal of time and commitment from each board member. You need to continually visit each building and talk with staff, parents, and students.

Gordon Reichal
Personal involvement. Listen to the community and our teachers, bus drivers, food service, administrators, in a respectful and inclusive manner. Listen to our instructional staff’s ideas for improvement in ways such as Governor Hickenlooper’s TELL teacher surveys. Conduct education forums and press for community ideas and alternative approaches to increase cost effective education in collaboration with other districts for “Best Practices”.

Robb Pike – Robb Pike did not provide a written response.

Ken Valdez – Ken Valdez did not provide a written response.

Question 10: Do board members/the board have a role in the day-to-day operation of the district?
John Mann – John Mann did not provide a written response.

Alfred Maurer – Alfred Maurer did not provide a written response.

Mark Pfoff
The School Board does not have any direct role in the day-to-day operation of the district. Individual members of the board might volunteer to help within the district, but this is without any authority as a board member. If you are going to hold someone accountable you have to give them the authority to make decisions. Having said that, it is important board members observe the day-to-day operation and if there are any issues communicate them to the superintendent.
For more information visit http://www.markpfoff.com

Gordon Reichal
Yes. Do parents? Yes. Business? Yes. Community & Government? You bet! Our kids are OUR KIDS and not some philosophical element of management policy. We are responsible for every day’s educational activities and their safety. Our school district is not a glorified baby sitter where we drop kids off in the chaos of a parking lot and leave our phone number if something happens. Our schools are doing a great job and we are responsible for ensuring continued success. We are involved and it is the board’s responsibility to assess in cooperation with the Principals, Department Heads, and Teachers our progress in the classroom, to react early to educational challenges, and to initiate ACTION to correct problems and not let the clock continue to tick while our education system struggles on alone.

Robb Pike – Robb Pike did not provide a written response.

Ken Valdez – Ken Valdez did not provide a written response.

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