Five candidates are running for four open seats on the Helena School District Board of Trustees.
Four of the candidates are running for 3-year elementary district seats. Another candidate, incumbent Robin LeNeve, is running unopposed for the high school district seat from the Canyon Creek area.
Voters will make their decision on board candidates, along with operational mill-levy requests for both the elementary and high school districts, on Tuesday, May 4.
Polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m., and absentee ballots are available at the May Butler Center at 55 S. Rodney St., until noon on Monday, May 3.
The Independent Record recently sent the candidates questionnaires, and the responses of the elementary district candidates will be featured on the Montana page Tuesday through Friday in alphabetical order. The third is Barbara Rush.
Martial status: Married
Children: Two children, Christina, a molecular biologist completing her doctorate, and Ben, a pharmacist
Employment: Retired teacher from Helena School District No. 1. Taught there for 27 years, including third, fourth and fifth grades and contained classroom special education and pullout resource programs
Educational background: Bachelor’s of science degree in early childhood education; special education 96 endorsement, master’s degree in children’s literacy
Civic organizations: Young Life, YWCA, YMCA, Gates of the Mountains, Lewis and Clark County Republicans, Republican Women
What are some inefficiencies in how the school district is run?
As our schools have become federalized, operating under federal mandates rather than local ones, they have taken on many new programs which require new positions, travel, workshops, assessment, day care and food programs. Some positions can be consolidated, travel can be limited, substitute-teacher budgets can be cut, and schools can be turned to move once again in a local direction.
How do you feel about the teachers’ salaries? Is it a good investment to pay them so well (in comparison to the rest of the state)?
I do not have a problem with teachers’ salaries. Thirty-five thousand dollars is an appropriate starting salary for a college-educated person who will be entrusted with the education of our youngsters.
What changes would you like to see made in Helena schools?
I would like to see our schools move in a local rather than a federal direction. I would like our teachers to be respected as the experts and given the time and control over the curriculum they need to provide comprehensive educational rigor in the classroom.
What does the Helena School District do well?
The Helena School District provides very good public relations.
What do you feel a trustee’s role is in the daily operations of a school district?
Trustees should be open to information from teachers, school staff, administrators and our students. He or she should seek out knowledge of the workings of the school district to support these people and make informed votes on the school board.
What impact do you hope to make on the board of trustees?
I would like to see our schools work efficiently and focus on academic rigor as well as a happy and comfortable environment for our students and teachers. I am sure we all think we know what the future is going to be and how we should raise our children to think and believe. Every one of us has the right to teach our children our beliefs. However, politics should be checked at the classroom door. In a free society and at public schools, the only agenda should be to teach our academic subjects well. Every institution has rules so that it can work in a disciplined fashion, and I’m sure our parents expect honesty, decency and fairness from their children. Any values beyond what we all hold in common have no place in the classroom. I would like to help our schools move in a more local direction and allow teachers the time and freedom to teach well.