Grant Nelson, 48, of Castle Pines, has lived in Douglas County since 1993. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder.
Nelson is the parent of three current students in Douglas County who have attended both neighborhood and …
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Grant Nelson, 48, of Castle Pines, has lived in Douglas County since 1993. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder.Nelson is the parent of three current students in Douglas County who have attended both neighborhood and charter schools.He owns a commercial real estate business that operates throughout Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.Nelson has served as the Colorado state director of the International Council of Shopping Centers as well as the government relations director for the council.As part of the four-person Elevate Douglas County slate, Nelson will be running for the seat in District E.District E, which encompasses Lone Tree, Acres Green, Castle Pines and eastern Highlands Ranch, is currently held by Steven Peck, who has not announced if he is running to keep the seat.Why did you decide to run?I’m the father of three kids currently in the school district. For the last 11 years we have had them in both charter schools and neighborhood schools, and our experience has just been great. After being in the district for this long, you realize that the schools are part of our everyday lives and what a huge role they play in how they shape our kids. One of the most important things we can do in the community is educate our kids and get them on the right path.What are the most important issues facing the school district?The district has great opportunities, but we also have many challenges we need to correct and it needs to start from the top. Our slate of candidates is really committed to stopping the negativity and the nastiness the board has had over the last couple of years. We really need to take the lead in how we take the district forward in a positive direction. One of the major issues we have is how we pay our teachers competitively compared to other districts. We have to make it competitive so we can keep our great teachers. We have to treat them like the professionals they areThe board has been divided in recent years. How would you help bridge that divide?The best first step that was taken was the departure of (former superintendent) Liz Fagen. From my perspective, her tenure was not good. It was basically an unmitigated complete disaster. She changed the curriculum and failed to address long-term budget needs. But the worst thing she did was create this culture of intimidation and fear. The district lost a lot of good teachers and a lot of good employees. It was awful. We really need to work to create a culture where the district lifts up employees. We want people to be able to work, have successful careers and enjoy what they do, not live in fear for their job everyday.Would you be supportive of a bond or mill levy to bring more funding to the district?I think the new superintendent has done a great job implementing her zero-based budgeting, and that’s a great first step. She was able to find $20 million in savings, which is great. But it won’t solve all of the issues. The mill levy in Douglas County is considerably lower than other metro school districts and it hurts us quite a bit. The flip side of that is, after living in Douglas County for a long time, residents are very resistant to raise their taxes. They don’t like it. I think we first have to work very hard to renew the trust between the community and the school district. Then, go explain to them why we need a new (mill levy override).What do you want people to know about you?I tell my kids all the time that we live in the best county in the best state in the best country in the world. I truly love our state. I love our county. (My family) has been here for over 100 years. We have deep roots here and education has been huge to everyone in my family. I’ve loved raising my kids here and I think the county has a huge, bright future.
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