Robert Reichardt grew up the oldest son to a single mom, much like Ralph Moody of “Little Britches” fame.
“Ralph Moody was huge to me,” he said. “Littleton was this magical place that had cattle drives down the street. … It helped me a lot with some challenging times.”
Today, he’s running to be on the board of directors that governs Littleton Public Schools, including the elementary school that bears Moody’s name.
Reichardt has a doctorate in public-policy analysis and has worked as an education-policy researcher for the last 15 years.
“The interesting thing about my job is that I get to go to different districts around the country doing interesting and innovative things, and I get to see how they do it,” he said. “I’m very interested in bringing that information to Littleton, and seeing how we go from good to excellent.”
Aberdeen Village resident Reichardt and fellow candidate Jack Reutzel are the only two board hopefuls who live in Littleton; Kelly Perez, Carrie Warren-Gully and Dallas Jones are all Centennial residents.
Though it’s not their neighborhood school, Reichardt’s two daughters attend Centennial Academy of Fine Arts Education. One is a budding singer, he says, and the other studies violin.
“I believe strongly in choice, but I do not believe in public money going to private schools,” he said. He worked on Colorado School Grades, a private project that has sparked some controversy as to methodology but calls itself a tool for school choice — one of the hot-button topics stirring things up in neighboring Douglas County.
“Some referendums they’re putting forward I support and have worked on,” he said of the Douglas County School Board. “But I think they went in with the attitude that the district was broken and the union was the reason it was broken, and that is not how I operate.”
He says the current Littleton board has done a good job dealing with some big issues like the recession and school closures, and cites the members’ unity as the reason the last two elections were cancelled due to nobody stepping forward to challenge them.
“There been no pressure to replace them,” he said. “But now there’s a group of parents who want to continue to support their schools. … Term limits are a key component of our governance system.”
He feels his career sets him apart from the rest of the pack.
“My accomplishments professionally, being able to help improve educational outcomes through my work as a researcher,” he said. “Not just crunching numbers but helping people improve their organizations.”
He agrees with the four other candidates in hoping that the current board decides to place a bond issue on November’s ballot.
“It’s clear the schools need some maintenance and improvement around safety and security,” he said.
He believes education is important to both a community’s health and the American dream.
“I want everybody to have a shot at being as successful as their abilities allow them to be. I think it’s important to provide that launching pad for all kids. Communities live and die on the talent that’s within them.”