Littleton Public Schools will soon be searching for a new school board member, as current board member Carrie Warren-Gully prepares to step down after winning a seat on the Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners.
Warren-Gully plans to resign her seat on the Littleton Public Schools Board of Education, which she has held since 2013, at the Dec. 10 meeting, she told Colorado Community Media.
Warren-Gully, a Democrat, defeated incumbent Republican Kathleen Conti for the District 1 county commissioner seat, winning by a nearly 12-point margin. District 1 is the county's westernmost commissioner district, covering Englewood, Littleton and parts of Centennial.
She is scheduled to be sworn in as a county commissioner on Jan. 12.
Warren-Gully said she is not legally obligated to step down from the school board, but felt she wouldn't be able to give her full attention to both boards.
“I wouldn't be a very good school board member if I stayed on,” she said. “The beautiful thing about Littleton is we have so many smart, involved people who can take my place.”
A quirk in the board's bylaws mean that while Warren-Gully plans to resign effective immediately at the Dec. 10 school board meeting, the board won't formally accept her resignation until the next meeting on Jan. 14, said board chair Jack Reutzel. At that point, the board has 60 days to appoint someone to fill the vacancy.
Reutzel said the board plans to draft an application for interested community members, who must live within Littleton Public Schools' boundaries and must be registered voters.
Then, he said, the board plans to invite all the applicants to speak at one of the two board meetings in February, before making a final decision at the March 11 meeting.
Whoever is selected to replace Warren-Gully won't have long before they need to make another big decision: whether to run to keep the seat in the November 2021 election.
In fact, the school board is due for big changes next year: Reutzel is term-limited, as is board member Kelly Perez, meaning three of the boards five seats will be up for grabs.
Warren-Gully said she is proud of her time on the board, citing her work on pushing for expanded career and technical education programs, including ongoing work to revamp a former car dealership beside Littleton High School into a sprawling technical education campus.
Her tenure on the board has included many tough challenges, she said, including addressing ever-increasing student mental health needs.
“We need to keep working on how we communicate with our community, and how we make sure parents and students know what resources are even available,” she said. “We're always trying to catch up with the changes brought about by technology ad social media. And we have to keep fighting for more of those mental health resources.”
Reutzel said he is grateful for Warren-Gully's tenacity as a board member, including her lobbying at the state legislature for increased education funding.
“She's been a tremendous asset, and I'm going to miss her terribly,” Reutzel said. “She keeps us focused and grounded on the health and safety of our students and staff. She's a compassionate, smart, empathetic leader, and she'll be a great commissioner. I'm really happy for the residents in her district.”
Warren-Gully said there's lots of work to be done at the county level.
“The first thing we'll have to tackle is staying on top of the virus and trying to get it under control,” she said. “The next piece is economic recovery. A lot of people are hurting, and small businesses are struggling.”
Counties are responsible for handling a lot of federal funds, Warren-Gully said, including COVID-19 relief funds, but also longer-term programs like housing and food assistance.
She said she hopes to work closely with city councils and nonprofits to make sure federal and state funds are going where they can be best used.
“We need to be that conduit, that liaison between cities and the state and federal government,” she said, citing programs like mental health care funding and homeless outreach.
She said she is also ready to work with Tri-County Health Department, which implements and oversees restrictions and other measures meant to combat the spread of COVID-19. Most restrictions are handled at the county level.
“I think Tri-County Health is doing a great job considering the situation we're in,” she said. “It's a situation that changes every day, as does our knowledge of the virus. I'm not an epidemiologist or a scientist, so I want to defer to their expertise. I think the county commissioners can play important roles as we improve contact tracing, and as we move toward hopefully distributing the vaccines.”
Conti, whom Warren-Gully beat in the election, was tight-lipped about her next moves.
“What I do going forward will be done as a private citizen and has no basis in your story,” she wrote in an email.
Warren-Gully said she is hopeful the school board and county commissioners can work together.
“I'm sad about resigning the school board, but I have a feeling we can find ways to collaborate in the future.”
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