Though the world seems to be captivated by what’s happening in Washington right now, our community could be equally affected by who is elected to the Helena Public Schools Board of Trustees next month.

For students, the new trustees will help craft policies and make decisions that could have lifelong effects on their education.

For taxpayers, the way the school board addresses tens of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance and other costs will have a direct financial impact on their finances.

And for everyone else, the work of these local officials will affect everything from the appearance of the neighborhoods surrounding Helena’s 17 schools to the local economy and housing market influenced by them.

With a $63 million school district bond election also coming up next month, this is a particularly important time to elect good trustees to the school board. Because whether the bond passes or fails, what the board does now could determine whether the school district is able to bring its facilities up to snuff or continue to educate students in subpar facilities for years to come.

That’s part of the reason why the Independent Record invited all six school board candidates to a public forum this week, where they will be asked to respond to a series of questions from the newspaper and the community. The event will also include a 30-minute Q&A with school district Superintendent Jack Copps on the bond ballot issue.

We do not consider this event to be a debate, but a forum intended to let the candidates introduce themselves to the community, to provide an opportunity to learn how they think and react to questions, and learn more about their thoughts on some of the most pressing issues facing the school district. Refreshments will be provided.

The forum is scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, in the lower level of the Carroll College Student Center at 1601 N. Benton Ave. For more information, call 447-4083.

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We also encourage our readers to take a look at the responses to our school board candidate surveys, which will be published in the Independent Record this week.

While the school board has a lot of important decisions to make in the coming months and years, the voters who give the trustees their power are ultimately responsible for what they do.

Let’s make sure to choose them wisely.

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