If you live in Wash Park, you’ve probably seen Scott and his wife, Amy with their two kids out canvassing. They’ve become a staple around the neighborhood and park this summer riding their bikes while dragging a wagon full of popsicles. Their two kids proudly declaring, “My Dad is running for DPS school board, District One! Please vote for my Dad on November 5!” Meanwhile, Scott and Amy bend the ear of their parents to explain exactly why Scott decided to get into this race.
Scott Baldermann and his wife Amy Kenrich have lived in West Wash Park for the past eight years, with two kids at Lincoln Elementary School. In 2016, Scott became President of the PTA at Lincoln and thus his quest into school district advocacy began.
Can you tell us why you are running for school board?
This journey began for me a few years ago. I was a dad that wanted to get involved with my kids’ school. I went to my first PTA meeting and a few weeks later I was elected as the PTA President for Lincoln Elementary. As parents know, the experience was a lot of fun, but it was also a ton of work, and it exposed needs at the school that were not being met by the district. Most of our time was spent fundraising for things like hiring paraprofessionals and reimbursing teachers for classroom supplies. We even had to raise money for math curriculum, which surprised me. These were all benefits to the school, but in my opinion, parents and teachers should not be fundraising for these items. I think the district should be providing the essentials, along with a safe and fun learning environment for all of its students.
The first week of school, classroom temperatures were in the high 80’s and even into the 90’s; we heard you addressed this issue at Lincoln as PTA President, tell us more about this?
Lincoln is one of the many schools that do not have air conditioning; it can reach 90 degrees in August and September. This is unacceptable to me and I made it my mission to cool that school.
I personally installed 12 commercial grade window fans in the second and third floor classes. I also come into the school every morning and make sure the portable swamp coolers are set up and operating properly. I do all of this because I want to make sure the students have a comfortable and productive day at school. It’s these experiences that made me decide to run for the DPS Board. I can take my expertise and common sense approach to help all DPS students.
You are a part of the Flip the Board movement, why?
The simple answer is I want to see more of our tax dollars making it into our schools and classrooms. For too long DPS has misused funds, to prioritize administration over the well-being of our children and educators. It’s time for us to hold those responsible for these decisions accountable. During the strike I organized a go fund me account for teachers, I walked the picket lines with teachers and I am proud to have earned the endorsement of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association. These past several months I’ve met with dozens of community members and teachers and I’ve learned a lot. We need to invest more into our classrooms with proactive solutions for school safety and Social & Emotional Health. This includes full-time psychologists, full-time nurses and introducing more wrap around services. We need to address the excessive amounts of standardized testing, and we need strong neighborhood schools.
I firmly believe with every decision, we need to put students first — seriously!
Can you expand on your ideas for proactive solutions for school safety?
When I was a senior in high school, I had first-hand experience with gun violence. I worked at Chuck E. Cheese at Illiff + Peoria where Nathan Dunlap shot five of my co-workers, killing four, on December 14, 1993. You can find more about my story on my website. We need to prioritize the emotional health of our students. DPS did the right thing by employing full-time psychologists in every school, but more can be done. Smaller class sizes, appropriate school start times and family support outside of school can all help. Most importantly we must reduce the growing stress of academic achievement on our students. Studies show, academic achievement is the primary source of stress and depression in teenagers—even more than bullying. We can also reduce or rule out ineffective approaches. While it is important to practice fire drills and other safety plans, we simply don’t yet know the psychological effects of lock-down drills. We need to closely monitor research about whether lock-down drills help more than they hurt. One thing is clear: the last thing we need in our schools is more guns. I stand with teachers who want to keep guns out of public schools and I support evidence-based measures that put the health and safety of our students first and foremost. My goal is to provide all DPS students with the resources they need to thrive and love to learn.
Switching gears here, what do you like about living in Wash Park?
We love being able to walk to so many great places – the playground, restaurants and friends’ houses. Amy and I have met so many nice neighbors who have lived in this area for years. One of the best parts of our day is walking our kids to and from Lincoln Elementary school with the families who live nearby.
When you’re not working on the campaign, how do you spend your free time?
We have an elderly Italian Greyhound named Lucy. So family dog walks are part of our routine. In the evening, we like to eat dinner on our front step. The kids usually end up playing in the front yard with their neighbor friends while Amy and I wind down from the day.
We’re very active at the kids’ school. I was PTA President at Lincoln Elementary from 2016-2018, so I still actively volunteer at the school. My wife runs a Bike Rodeo each May and also heads up the Business Partners in Education program at Lincoln Elementary. Community events and meetings are a part of the fabric of our lives, and we love it. But when we aren’t volunteering we fit in camping trips and work on our mountain biking skills!
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in Aurora and graduated from Rangeview high school. My parents still live in the same house. I went to the University of Nebraska and earned a Masters in Architecture in 2000. I was elected to be President of the American Institute of Architecture Students, which landed me in Washington, D.C. for a year where I met my wife. As president I advocated for ending the unhealthy and unsafe studio culture of pulling all-nighters in college.
How did you land in Wash Park?
When Amy finished college in 2002 we decided to move back to Denver to be close to family. We lived in the Whittier neighborhood for 8 years. In 2010 we decided to move closer to Amy’s office so she could bike to work more safely. Wash Park was the ideal location for us. We couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.