election 2017

Kevin Leung, District E candidate for Douglas County School Board

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Kevin Leung lived in Highlands Ranch for six years year before moving to Castle Pines Village, where he has resided for more than 20 years. Leung owns three full-service car washes in Highlands Ranch, Parker and Aurora. Prior to being a business owner, Leung was an IT professional and taught IT courses at Regis University in Denver. He was also a civilian contractor for the U.S. Army. Leung received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Utah. He furthered his education at University of Colorado Boulder, where he earned an MBA and a master’s in computer science.

Contact: kevinfordcschools@gmail.com

Campaign website: kevinfordc schools.com

Why do you want to serve on the board of education?

I want all Douglas County students to have the same opportunities I have had to live the American dream through quality education and hard work. I want to serve to retain and recruit the best teachers, bring back education excellence for our kids, and restore trust and accountability.

Following years of dissension, what can be done to bring a sense of unity to the Douglas County School District community?

I will work to restore trust and accountability to the board by improving the culture and climate in our school district. Our board should listen to and respect our staff’s opinions in all matters and make decisions as a group. We need to restore bi-weekly regular meetings and remove the automatic meeting end time. I will propose our board meetings be conducted in different school feeder areas, so we can bring our meetings to the community. Staff and community surveys should be conducted every year to better understand what the community desires for the education of our students.

What are the most important traits to look for in the next superintendent?

DCSD needs to have a pragmatic leader, one who will advocate for all teachers and students. Our next superintendent should be ethical and fair, and be a consent builder. This person should have experience as an educator and can thus have credibility with our employees and educators.

Should interim Superintendent Erin Kane be considered for the job on a permanent basis?

The board of education should encourage all qualified and interested candidates to apply for the permanent job, including Interim Superintendent Kane.

Is the increasing number of charter schools in Douglas County good for the school district?

My kids attended charter schools and I have always been a supporter of choice in our public schools, including neighborhood schools, public charter schools, and others. The district has not built a neighborhood school since 2010, relying solely on charter schools to address growth. That is not healthy when we know our community wants both charter and neighborhood schools. Our community was clear in the most recent survey that they support quality schools above any certain type of school. My goal is to ensure all schools are quality choices regardless of whether they are charter or neighborhood schools.

Do you support the use of taxpayer-funded vouchers to pay for students to get an education at a private school?

I support choices within our public schools. And, I respect a parent’s desire to choose a private school. But, I do not support taxpayer-funded vouchers to pay for that choice. The board of education is the custodian of public funds.  Currently, our public schools lack adequate funding. We cannot afford to divert precious resources to private schools and jeopardize the quality of public education options. Furthermore, once public money is diverted to private institutions, our board has lost the ability to protect the civil rights of students and demand the level of accountability expected from our public schools.

Would you be in favor of a larger influence by the teachers’ union?

The needs of our students should always be at the forefront of the board’s decisions. High teacher turnover and plummeting morale have negatively impacted our students. In a survey, only 1 percent of teachers said they completely trust the school board. If our teachers and our community believe that the teacher’s union can have a positive influence on these factors, I would feel obligated to listen to them. I would not be putting the needs of our students first if I answered this question with a simple “yes” or “no” before hearing from these two important groups.

What can be done to allow the district to keep its best and most experienced teachers at a higher rate?

Most teachers love their job, not merely the pay. DCSD must change its culture and climate so teachers feel welcome to teach here. The teachers’ evaluation system must be improved. Moreover, our school district’s average teacher salary is currently $17,000 less than Cherry Creek and $13,000 less than Littleton, and the gap continues to grow. If we want to attract and retain the best teachers, we need to offer them competitive salaries. Another way to change how our district compensates our teachers is to explore additional funding mechanisms to increase pay.

Would you support a ballot measure to help the district pay for capital improvements?

DCSD has not passed a bond measure since 2006, and capital needs of $300+ million have been identified. The operational fund is used to fund capital improvements. A DCSD joint subcommittee recommended that the board ask our taxpayers for support. As your school board member, I will consult the community and the interim superintendent to find a bond measure that appeals to the voters. Our community deserves the opportunity to weigh in on this important decision via a ballot measure.

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