School Board Election Results

Olive Ritchie, Staff Reporter

Although November means the conclusion of many things, it also brings new beginnings as the results of elections emerge. In Salida, there was an election for the school board. Jodi Breckenridge-Petit and Joe Smith were both reelected to their respective positions.

Breckenridge-Petit is excited to resume working on policies, relieved to see her hard work pay off, and reassured. Breckenridge-Petit was inspired to run for many reasons

“I came from a very modest background. A divorced family. Public educators scooped me up and carried me along. I got to where I am today because of public education. That’s the first reason, that’s my heart reason. I have skills that match up really well to the school board. I used to be a teacher. I am still a substitute teacher. I studied education and how adults learn⸺not quite the same as young people. It’s a really nice pairing,” Breckenridge-Petit said.

Joe Smith was also delighted to know he was reelected. He is continuing to serve as the school board president while representing district 4.

“I feel happy and thrilled that the community continues to support me,” Smith said.

Both Breckenridge-Petit and Smith are enthusiastic about the integration of Colorado Mountain College (CMC) classes into Salida High School. They hope it will foster growth within high school students.

“One reason why [CMC classes are exciting] is continuing education for trades. Particularly in our state, a minimum wage job means that you’re going to struggle. If you have a certificate, a diploma, plus a welding certificate you can live in our community.”

She thinks getting a trade certificate can really help both students and the community. “And [jobs requiring a trade], I think, is where our greatest need is. Solar panel installation, welding, any of the construction jobs, graduating with those skills would be amazing.”

Breckenridge-Petit also thinks CMC classes can be a useful tool for students pursuing higher education. She hopes taking CMC classes in high school can ease the financial burden on parents by helping students’ earn associate degrees during high school.

“My dream is for someone who is interested in going to college to graduate with their associates degree,”  Breckenridge-Petit said.

Breckenridge-Petit wants graduation requirements to include the exploration of careers. Both Breckenridge-Petit and Smith think the graduation requirements should be updated to better meet the needs of students in the present day.

“We have this enormous resource with CMC, and to keep our 1960s graduation requirements the same with this new resource and changing world just doesn’t make sense. They’re not bad, but we can make them better,” Breckenridge-Petit said.

She  also wants to implicate a multi-tiered support system within the school system. The goal of the support system is to make sure every kid is well-educated and has help with behavioral health. It is tailored to every individual student; it will provide support in subjects in which the student is not as strong.

“If we could have all our students grow up with that support system, it would bring me to tears,” Breckenridge-Petit said.

In order to improve students’ mental health, the school board hired Cassie Stauch, a counselor from Solvista. Breckenridge-Petit is pleased with this decision despite the money it requires.

“I am willing to put our money where our mouth is on students’ mental health,” she said.

With a slew of changes and challenges occurring within the school system, Smith and Breckenridge-Petit hope to support students and staff within the school system as much as they can.