Editor’s Note: As part of our 2018 Election Year coverage we are here presenting more in our candidate profiles series. So far four of the six candidates running for the Great Falls Public Schools Board of Trustees have responded to our request for profiles. They are, in alphabetical order, Barbara Going, Kim Skornogoski, Judy Tankink and Laura Wight. We will publish the other responses as they are submitted.
I am Barbara Going, a senior citizen, who desires to serve as a Trustee on the GFPS Board.
I am running for the school board at this time because I believe that it is important for people with traditional values to be willing to speak up, new thoughts and different voices.
Term limits for any decision making body of elected officers is important to help the community’s views be heard. Since there are no incumbents in this election new voices will be added to the board so this is an important election.
My experience includes a double major in Elementary Education and Speech Pathology having used both degrees in several states. For the past seven years I have volunteered to assist in the “reading intervention” class at East Middle School. I am qualified, have a analytical mind, am a good listener and am not afraid to speak.
My husband and I are retired small business owners. We raised four children who graduated from Great Falls High, grandparents of five. I have attended school board meetings, was selected for a citizens district budget committee, have attended community budget meetings and many community meetings on the past bond issues. My experience with groups has been at a national and state level with our business and the women’s group through our church. For the past seven years, I have served on our Neighborhood Council and as a Hospice volunteer.
Would I be the best candidate? I would try to represent the values of the middle class citizens in our city, the concerns of the students, teachers and parents. God asks for our availability, He provides the ability. I would appreciate your support. There will be new voices on the board. It may be the right time to be heard.
As the mom of a Sunnyside kindergartner, I am in our schools every day. As a Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer, I mentor students in our schools every week. Through my daily job at United Way of Cascade County, I work with school employees to advance critical Graduation Matters goals that touch students at every age.
I’m a fifth-generation Montanan, who has lived in Great Falls for 20 years. My 14 years as a Great Falls Tribune reporter taught me to ask questions and to listen – two skills that have served me well in my initial months on the school board.
For example, when it was time to consider a school levy, I listened to concerns about school spending and asked questions. I reached out to the Office of Public Instruction’s data office to get per student spending numbers for every school in the state.
I learned that Great Falls not only spends less than all other AA schools, but we are in the bottom 10 percent of all schools when we look at our total budget compared to the number of students we serve. Great Falls spends about $2,000 less per student than the state average and as much as $4,130 less than other AA schools.
Yet our kids must compete against those other Montana students for jobs and scholarships. And I hear often from local business owners who are frustrated trying to find quality employees. The answer is to invest smartly in education. Our schools have terrific technical programs and allow students to graduate with specialized diplomas that reflect the skills and knowledge they developed in welding, construction and other trades.
I applied for an open seat on the school board, and I’m running to retain that seat because I want our community to be a better place. I want to see Great Falls grow and move forward. When we invest in education, we are building a better workforce, we are arming future business leaders with the skills they need to succeed.
Most importantly, my involvement for the last six years with the Graduation Matters initiative has given me the opportunity to listen to students who have barriers in their lives that are hard to imagine. I hope to advocate not just for my daughter but for every student.
I was born and raised in Great Falls and attended GFPS. In 2013, I retired from an engineering firm as a secretary. For approximately 17 years, I worked as a secretary for Great Falls Public Schools in several departments: Accounts Payable, Title 1 Reading Center, Mountain View Elementary, Data Processing, and Human Resources receiving numerous promotions and “Good Apple” awards during my tenure at GFPS. This background has enabled me to be aware of what we can do to continue to provide a great learning experience for our children while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers.
GFPS needs diversity of thought. I bring a unique background and set of experiences which will result in a diversity of thought that GFPS School Board is currently lacking. As a fiscal conservative, I will work with the board to make the best decisions for our children and for the community. I will fulfill that responsibility with fidelity. A trustee’s greatest concern must be the educational welfare and safety of the students attending GFPS.
School Board Term Limits: I believe there should be term limits for school board members.
Live-Stream and Archive School Board Meetings: Not everyone can attend a school board meeting, but that doesn’t mean that that people aren’t interested or concerned about what’s going on at GFPS. It’s time that GFPS provided this opportunity for working parents and taxpayers.
School Bond/School Levy: The result is more taxes! Taxpayers approved almost $99 Million Bond in 2016. According to GFPS, “The increase in taxes for the entire $98,858,785 proposed bond levy on a $100,000 “market valued” home is estimated at approximately $68.74/year or $5.73/month for 20 years.”
The language on the ballot for the current levy request states, “Passage of this levy will increase your taxes on a home of $100,000 by approximately $13.28.” It’s important to remember that levies never expire. They will always be on your taxes.
I believe in Zero-based budgeting. Zero-base budgeting (ZBB) is a budgeting process that asks departments to build a budget from the ground up, starting from zero. It is a decision-making process based on imagining yourself back at the point before particular decisions were made, and free to make those decisions with the knowledge that you now have. School Board members are not elected to be rubber stampers for the administration!
Common Core Testing: The Common Core State Standards have led to an increased emphasis on standardized test performance while de-emphasizing good teaching. Parents should be notified that they have the right to opt their children out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing that reflects the Common Core standards. Furthermore, parents should not be bullied or demonized if they make that choice for their children.
Thank you to E-City Beat for your interest in and coverage of the School Board Trustee elections in Great Falls. I am running for School Board Trustee to have the opportunity to use my professional expertise and personal experience to represent the ‘public good’ and the multiple constituent groups in our community through service to public education. I do not approach the School Board Trustee candidacy with a set individual agenda.
I am the best candidate for the three-year seat for several reasons. I am a Montana native and lifetime public educator. I have taught for 17 years at the college level in various capacities. I currently work as the Director of Library Services at Great Falls College MSU and also teach the Introduction to Education course (preparing future teachers) as an adjunct faculty member. I am knowledgeable in Federal education policy, Montana state curriculum standards and local GFPS District policy. Throughout my career, I have nurtured a lifetime passion for public education. The purpose of public education is to provide universal access to free education. Public education should ‘level the playing field’ and guarantee equal opportunities for all children. It should prepare our future citizens academically for college or to enter the workforce. Through public education we are preparing children to be economically self-sufficient critical thinkers and to participate effectively as citizens in a democratic society.
I also feel I am the best candidate because I am a parent and community advocate. I am a product of public education and have four children in public elementary, middle and high schools in Great Falls. Over the years, I have gained a wealth of experience talking and collaborating with teachers, advocating for my children in the schools and working to bring awareness to the community on the benefits of public education. My husband and I are proud to call Great Falls home and are active advocates for the city on multiple fronts. I have also served as a parent officer on the Lincoln Elementary PTA for the last four years.
Lastly, I feel I am the best candidate because I believe the role of the local school board is to provide leadership in working with the community to craft a shared mission and vision for its schools that reflects the whole community. The school board has a responsibility to keep a finger on the pulse of education needs in the community as it evolves. This is done through consistent communication, active listening, participation in activities and events and maintaining a mutual respect with students, families, employees and all members of the community. Good public education is a collaborative between teachers, parents, administrators and taxpayers. GFPS District facilities, resources and employees are public assets and the Board must be a responsible steward of public resources. School Board members should be visible and involved in community events, attend school activities and functions and advocate for the public schools.