Bond addresses most pressing needs
Helena’s current school building crisis is a problem that never should have occurred. But our community now has the chance to take a big leap toward correcting it.
Helenans have long been proponents of smaller neighborhood schools. With our community’s 17 schools come 17 unique sets of maintenance problems, however, and for several decades Helena Public Schools has not been getting the financial support it needs from the community to address them.
As a result, some children in our area are now being taught in temporary structures, hallways and even closets instead of classrooms. Others are wearing gloves and jackets to class during the winter and asking to take off their shoes and socks in warmer months because of inadequate climate controls.
And those are the students lucky enough to have a school building in their neighborhood, unlike the children who once attended the now shuttered Central School.
To help address these dire problems, Helena Public Schools has proposed a $63 million bond that would replace the three elementary schools in the worst shape and bring safety, security and technology upgrades to all elementary and middle schools.
While the proposal may not do exactly what everyone wants it to, the measure would address our community’s most critical school needs and improve the lives of 5,000 students who shouldn’t have to wait any longer.
For these reasons, we encourage Helena voters to support the Helena school district bond.
Hindoien, Muszkiewicz stand out
Voters have some very difficult decisions to make in the Helena Public Schools K-12 Board of Trustees election.
While we were pleasantly surprised to see a slate of six candidates running for the two seats up for election on the board, we were blown away by what many of them are offering to bring to this thankless volunteer position.
We know there are many good choices in the school board election. But those who stood out most to us were Jeff Hindoien and Luke Muszkiewicz.
As an attorney who has worked extensively with public schools, Hindoien can offer expert insight on current and future legal matters facing the school district. He is already knowledgeable about the district’s role in areas such as curriculum and special education, which will keep the learning curve to a minimum, and he has learned what to look for in a future superintendent through his work with other superintendents across the state.
A software engineer who was born and raised in Helena, Muszkiewicz understands many of the needs in area schools because he attended them as a student and now sends his own children to them. He understands that early childhood education is more important now than in the past because society expects so much more from today’s students, and he has prioritized the creation of a long-term plan for the school district.
Both Hindoien and Muszkiewicz are educated and thoughtful, and they have taken the time to learn more about school district issues by attending meetings and talking with stakeholders. Like all of the school board candidates, both also support the bond that would address the district’s most pressing facility needs.
We are happy to endorse these two candidates and want to thank all six of them for stepping up for our community and its children.