School Board Trustee ballots are mailing this week. Ballots are due back by May 4th.
A school board trustee is responsible for adopting and enforcing all policies related to management of Great Falls Public Schools. Their ultimate purpose is to ensure the policies and practices of the district support all students, individually and collectively, to have appropriate opportunities to achieve academic success.
This is a voluntary position. None of the trustees are compensated. Great Falls Public Schools has seven trustees. You can learn more here: https://www.gfps.k12.mt.us/domain/130
This year, we have 8 community members who have put in their name to be elected as a GFPS School Board Trustee. We wanted to provide you information about these candidates, as well as notify you that the Great Falls Tribune will be publishing questions answered by our candidates. The Electric is hosting an online School Board Trustee Candidate Forum this Monday, April 19th, from 6:00-7:30pm. The link to the forum is: https://theelectricgf.com/2021/04/14/gfps-candidate-virtual-forum-is-april-19/
GFEA has also shared information related to the Trustee election on their web page.
Additionally, here are responses to five questions from KEY that candidates were invited to answer. Candidates are represented in alphabetical order by last name. Remember, ballots are due back by May 4th!
Russ Herring –
Scott Jablonski –
Kevin Leatherbarrow –
Immediate Family: Annie Leatherbarrow (spouse), father of two
Education: Master of Education (University at Buffalo)
Occupation: Educator & Business Owner
Tucker Schleining –
No response received
Dustin Shoemake –
He is no longer planning to run.
Genevieve Smyth –
No response received
Marlee Sunchild –
I was born and raised in Great Falls. I graduated from Great Falls High in 1991. I then went on to MSU-Northern to earn my Bachelor Degree in Elementary Education. I earned a Master’s of Science Degree in Reading and Literacy Instruction and a Master’s of Science Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. I taught for four years at Box Elder Public Schools which is adjacent to the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation. I then moved to Great Falls where I taught for 21 years at Longfellow Elementary. I retired after 25 years of teaching last spring. I come from a long line of educators, I have had 2 children go to the schools in Great Falls and have 2 cats.
1. What do you see as the two most challenging issues facing Great Falls Public Schools at this time?
An ongoing issue has for a long time, been teacher pay and teacher burnout. We have to start working on long-term solutions to teacher burnout so that younger teachers are more
apt to stay in Great Falls rather than emigrating to communities that offer better pay and more benefits that are more attractive to younger teachers.
2. Please describe your experiences and connection to Great Falls Public Schools.
I was a teacher in the district for over 20 years, as well as a parent of two students for over 16 years, one graduating in 2018 and the other set to graduate this spring. Both of my parents taught for over 25 years as well after graduating from Great Falls High themselves.
3. What do you see as the most important things to achieve by serving as a GFPS School Board Trustee?
First and foremost I want to work on bridging the divide
between the school board and the taxpayers. We have to continue our work on being the conduit between the schools and the taxpayers. I also would love to prioritize mental health well-being for both our teachers and our students.
4. What aspect of public school funding do you think is the most in need of change?
We have to find a way that we can pay our teachers more. The current system we have in place is not working. We are losing far too many teachers to districts that can afford to pay their teachers more than we can in Great Falls.
5. What do you want the community to know about you and your interest in serving as a trustee of GFPS?
I know firsthand how the teachers and parents can work together to make GFPS the leader in the state. With so many great opportunities before the district, I think someone with my
experience would be a great asset to the community of Great Falls.