Berthoud’s Dave Levy retires from school board

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

All good things must come to an end.

For Dave Levy one four-year term representing District G, which incorporates Berthoud, on the Thompson School District Board of Education will give way to travels and more time with his family, his wife Diane, and granddaughter most significantly. Levy announced his intention to not seek reelection this November.

“It was strictly personal. We want to travel more,” Levy said in a sit-down with the Surveyor on Saturday morning. A trip to Nova Scotia is in the works and Levy explained thrice-monthly board meetings were “just too restrictive,” and mentioned he would not feel right if he was not fully-invested, saying, “I didn’t want to regret ever showing up to a meeting. Yes, there’s work that remains but there will always be work that remains.”

Dave Levy

Levy stated he was “very happy for my time there, (but) very happy to be able to go do other things.”

He was initially prompted to run for the board by some friends and other community leaders for whom Levy said he has a great deal of respect and, despite not being all too familiar with the way the school board operates nor having ever sought public office before, Levy decided to throw his hat into the ring.

“I observed a couple of meetings and it was dysfunctional,” Levy said was his takeaway when deciding whether to run. “After I saw some of the meetings and I said ‘you can’t stop me from running. We cannot allow this to be our school district,’” he explained and detailed how he witnessed board members fighting each other, “not on policy, but on personality, to the detriment (of the district).”

Levy continued, saying, “I just said ‘hey, I know nothing about education. I know nothing about the school district, but I’m willing to learn, and I promise you I will be civilized.”

That initial concern, the lack of civility among some board members and efforts at advancing personal agendas rather than those that would be in the best interest of education, Levy believes has been remedied by the current makeup of the board.

“Yes, certainly we function in a civilized manner,” Levy said. “Are our policies good? I think so. The fact that the bond and mill (levy override) were passed as an indication we presented to the public a need and a plan going forward at an affordable price.”

The bond and mill levy override (MLO) passed by voters in November, Levy lists as one of the two biggest accomplishments the board has achieved during his term. The second achievement, still in the works, is putting the finishing touches on the district’s master plan. With the stewardship of Superintendent Marc Schaffer, the district is aiming to reach the accreditation with distinction level from the Colorado Department of Education’s performance metric.

Levy calls the goal, which would require the district to raise its cumulative evaluation score from its current 58 to 75 or above, “very aggressive but very achievable,” and applauds Schaffer for setting such a goal. “I’m proud of the bond and the MLO, but I’m also very proud we have the board developing a system of goals that can be measured,” Levy said. 

Passage of the bond, which was sold at a premium and brought in an additional nearly $35 million, did stir up some debate in town as the idea was floated for the district to partner with the Town of Berthoud to enclose and expand the pool at the proposed recreation center. The proposal was defeated unanimously by the board, as other needs district-wide were deemed more pressing.

Levy was adamant he understood the importance of constructing a pool, as he himself swam for his high school team, but explained other maintenance needs were far more critical to the well-being of the district, both short- and long-term.

“It was a choice between doing something that has great benefit, a pool, or doing something I classify as a necessity, an absolute necessity,” Levy explained as he drew an example that the district’s operating budget’s maintenance fund is the equivalent of $500 a year for a 1500 square-foot house. “Am I to sit here and watch a public investment deteriorate beyond the normal state of repair? Am I to allow that when we have an opportunity to do more maintenance? So I decided on that; if you don’t do it you will get a bigger bill.”

While candidates have yet to formally announce, Levy strongly stated longtime Berthoud resident and former Berthoud High English and communications teacher, Stu Boyd, would be an excellent choice to fill his vacated seat on the board. Should Boyd elect to run, Levy said he would “fully endorse” his candidacy.

Levy explained the value lesson he learned from his stint as an elected public official thusly, “You’re not going to get your way all the time. What you think is the best policy is not always going to get enacted, but if you assume the other person is acting with good intentions and then you listen and work something out, and the public will be served.”

Sage advice indeed.

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