There are now nine candidates running for four spots on the Teton County School District No. 1 board of trustees.
The filing period, which opened Aug. 10, closed Monday. Three candidates made it in just under the wire, declaring their candidacy on the last day.
Their entries bring the race to include incumbents Kate Mead and Patricia Russell along with newcomers Curt Behle, Betsy Carlin, Bill Scarlett, Emily Flanagan, Nick Grenoble, Annie Band and Carlyn Hunter.
Incumbents Robbi Farrow and Syd Elliott decided not to run again.
Farrow told the News&Guide in an email that she had “struggled with the decision to run again for TCSD trustee and ultimately decided that now is not the right time for me.” She will also be the USA Hockey appointed registrar for Wyoming this year, another large time commitment.
Farrow said she was honored to have served as a trustee for the past eight years.
Elliott has also served for a cumulative eight years.
“It was a really, really hard decision and I spent a lot of time thinking about it,” she said. “I wasn’t sure that I could commit the time that one needs to be able to commit to the board and make wise decisions. That would be selfish. I decided it was only fair not to run — but I’ll miss it.”
Elliott said it was “terribly exciting” that the race was full of candidates and that “people are taking an interest” in the school board.
“Our kids are our future,” she said. “Whatever we do, it needs to be for the kids.”
Elliott also raised concerns that some candidates, she believes, are running with “agendas” that might impact Munger Mountain Elementary School moving ahead on time or losing state funds. Such a “derailment” would have “huge ramifications,” she said.
Grenoble, Band and Hunter were the last-minute additions.
Grenoble, the director of Teton Educational Services, came to Jackson from a full-time teaching position in South America. Like many Jackson residents, he thought he was here for a ski season and a sabbatical from city life but decided to stick around and first became a substitute teacher.
“I realized that this is a really special community,” Grenoble said. “I was so impressed by the caliber of the students in the school district.”
However, Grenoble believed that some of the resources available to larger communities were lacking, and that students weren’t competing on a global scale for admission to college and job opportunities. The desire to “provide access to the same level of resources that I was accustomed to growing up in the Boston area in a formalized structure,” nudged Grenoble to found Teton Educational Services in 2011. He is also the coordinator of college preparatory services through Teton County Library.
“I believe it takes a community to educate a child,” Grenoble said. “One of the strengths of Jackson is how well organizations collaborate.”
Grenoble says his priorities include promoting teacher empowerment, ensuring that science-based curriculum is used for health and sex education, monitoring the impactful and responsible use of technology implementation in the schools and making sure graduates enter the world equipped for an evolving economy.
He wants to “ensure that the new elementary school fits within the community-defined vision agreed upon by the Comprehensive Plan.”
“Our community worked hard to agree upon a Comprehensive Plan to guide decision-making,” he said. “We need to make sure those values are aligned with the location and size of the new elementary school.”
Band moved to Jackson full time in 1990 to work as a naturalist. After attending graduate school at the University of Montana and studying bats in the neotropics, Band taught at Teton Science Schools in Kelly. After her son was born, she began shifting to the jewelry design career she is running now and says her decision to become more closely involved with the school board began last spring during the Shelly Donahue controversy.
“In [the] future my hope is that the school board will be far more collaborative and transparent in their decision-making process,” Band told the News&Guide in an email. “Whether the issue is school siting, curriculum changes, reconfiguration, or other, open communication with the community and district itself is absolutely critical.”
Hunter said she decided to run for the school board “because I hope one day that my grandchildren will live in Jackson Hole and attend the public schools here. So now is the time for me to act by participating in the process of making sure that for every dollar spent on the school system each child is given the best education possible.”
In an email to the News&Guide, she called Jackson “a small community with incredible teachers and resources with an already excellent school system that needs fresh eyes and somewhat of a different perspective in order to move forward in a positive way,” citing “openness and clarity” as being important in the future.
Hunter has two children, a daughter in the MD/MBA program at Stanford University and a son who works in finance in Hong Kong. She said she “knows what it takes to get children through the system onto successful, happy careers.”