Adams 14 now has a full board, after using new process to fill a vacancy

The Adams 14 district now has a full, and all woman, school board.

The board Tuesday night appointed Maria Zubia, a district parent, to fill the board’s fifth seat. It is a two-year term.

Zubia is director of community outreach for Kids First Health Care, an organization that runs health clinics in some Adams 14 schools.

None of the candidates won a majority of the votes from the four board members, so board President Ramona Lewis appointed Zubia.

Board members Reneé Lovato and Regina Hurtado had voted for Andrew LaCrue, a Denver educator and local coach, while Lewis and board member Connie Quintana supported Zubia. The board voted twice, and both times the board was evenly divided.

The board’s fifth seat has been vacant since November, after appointee Laura Martinez’s term ended. No one ran to fill the seat.

Before the vote, board members commented that the decision was a difficult one because all three applicants were passionate and would make contributions to the board. And even though the board did not agree on Zubia initially, all voiced their support for her at the end of the meeting.

Hurtado exclaimed, “Girl power,” and added that “we’re going to move mountains.”

In seeking to make the process more transparent and to involve the public, the Adams 14 board for the first time in filling a vacancy held a community forum at the end of January where it invited the public to help interview the applicants.

Board members had the chance to hear the public’s input before making their decision Tuesday night.

In the interviews, all three applicants mentioned the district’s turnaround work — on the state’s order, a private company is managing the district to try to improve achievement — as one of the biggest challenges facing Adams 14.

Zubia said in the interview that improving the district required engaging the community, and building upon strengths in Adams 14.

“We need to start focusing on what those opportunities are,” Zubia said.

As an example, she cited the large number of English learners in the district, and the opportunity to help them become bilingual.

“Knowing a second language is such a gift and asset,” she said. Zubia herself is bilingual, but some of her children no longer speak Spanish.

“Part of the reason I’m here is not only my kids, but for the children that may not have that voice,” she said at the forum.

Tuesday night, Zubia was emotional as she took the oath of office, and thanked the board and the community.