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School board candidates: How they stack up

 


Tuesday, six candidates will vie for three seats on the Havre Public Schools Board of Trustees.

Incumbents Teresa Miller and Denise Thompson encounter four opponents Cheryl Carlson, Kevann Elletson, Joe Marino and Gus Sharp.

The election will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Havre High School gym.

We asked each candidate three questions:

What do you think about last year's restructuring of Havre Public Schools?

Do you support the proposed mill levy?

Do you plan to be active in the district beyond the board meetings?

Here's what they had to say:

Cheryl Carlson, 49: Married with four children. Graduated from Big Sandy High School and holds a business degree from Great Falls Commercial College. Employed at Triangle Telephone and Hill County Electric cooperatives as an administrative assistant.

"I think the basic concept is good. But I think they did it too soon, because enrollment is way too high. We have overcrowded elementary schools."

"I am in favor of this increase. We have to back our education system. I think the mill levy money could be spent better. I think we need to have quality teachers first of all. And they need to look at making classes smaller. And then they can hire the administration."

"I think the trustees need to be more visible in the schools. We need to be in the classrooms to see what's going on."

Kevann Elletson, 34: Married with two children. Graduated from Havre High School and holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and management from Montana State University-Bozeman. Employed at Triangle Telephone and Hill County Electric cooperatives as a marketing representative.

"I think the restructuring concept is excellent. It probably should have come several years earlier. So, is ours a success? As much as it possibly could be."

"I definitely support the mill levy. Dollars are needed. Unfortunately, we cannot depend on the state in the current scenario. Maybe we should reallocate the way money is distributed right now. Your costs don't go down. Those costs are proportionate to the funding."

"I already am (active). I don't even know if that's a conscious effort for me anymore. I wouldn't say I'd be in the classroom as a board member, but I'd be there as a parent."

Joe Marino, 45: Married with two children. Graduated from East Brunswick High School in New Jersey and holds a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from Rutgers University. Also holds a podiatry degree from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. Employed at the Northern Montana Medical Group as a podiatrist, and also runs clinics throughout the Hi-Line.

"It was painful. It was successful for survival. Maybe we need to take a look at if we can get additional funding. It's a shame if it's just over money. But it was a good way to restructure it. From a budget standpoint it was wonderful. But was it the best thing? I don't know."

"I support it without a doubt. We've lost some funding and we have such a hard time recruiting teachers. Our kids are our best investment. My focus as a board member would be to find additional funding."

"On other boards I've been on, I've always been active and visible. But I'm not one to meddle. In places I can support the staff and superintendent, I'll be there."

Teresa Miller, 50: Married with three children. Seeking a third term on the school board. Graduated from Havre High School and attended Montana State University-Northern for three years. Employed at Herberger's as a sales associate.

"The restructuring was a necessity because of the funding problems. I think it's been very successful, but it's had some flaws. The busing was really a challenge to get all those kids bused safely, but they've worked out And we didn't anticipate as many kids in the third grade. But other than that, it's been an excellent move."

"I have always supported taxes for education. I want the kids who are running this state and town to be knowledgeable. It costs money, and this school board has done an excellent job of holding down the taxes."

"The one thing we're supposed to do is visit every school every year. That doesn't get done, I'm sorry to say. There just doesn't seem to be enough time. That's a real weakness we all have."

Gus Sharp, 45: Married with seven children. Graduated from Mundo High School in South Dakota. Holds a bachelor's degree in plant science with a minor in economics from South Dakota State. Employed at Waddell & Reed in Havre as a district manager and finance officer.

"From what I've seen, it was a tough decision that had to be made. I haven't really seen problems with it."

"I don't think there's any doubt that the financial issues are and will continue to be the toughest decisions. I think the mill levy is a necessity. It's probably not a fun choice, but probably is a necessary choice."

"In my opinion, a board member's main job is at the meetings. However, I think you have to be involved in the school and the community to have a feel for the people. I'm sure I'll be at a lot of the high school activities."

Denise Thompson, 46: Married with three children. Seeking a second term on the school board. Graduated from Shelby High School and holds a certification in fashion and apparel from a Missoula vocational-technical school. Employed at Crazy Quilters.

"It's a learning experience the first year. We had to do something. I think it's been successful and I'm optimistic about it."

"In order for us to continue with our education enhancement plan, we have to pass the mill levy. I think it's a positive thing. If I have to pay taxes, I just as soon see that they go to schools."

"I plan to go if I'm re-elected again. I work during the day, but I do visit with a number of the teachers. I would like to be more active at the schools. I think if you're going to be supportive of this district, you need to be involved in the activities that are going on."

 

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