1. What knowledge and skills do you think kids need to succeed in the 21st century? What can you do as a legislator to make sure local schools deliver these outcomes?
Critical thinking skills allow students to respond to whatever the world throws at them. If you had asked this question in 1990, nobody would have said “coding is what kids will need to succeed in 20 years time.” Our education system must prepare individuals to be innovative, creative, adaptable, collaborative and analytical.
As a legislator it is my job to support educators in fostering critical and creative thinking to establish a foundation for individual development, good health, satisfying employment and responsible participation in democratic society. Montana’s legislature should provide substantial resources, equitably distributed.
2. What can the state legislature do to ensure districts can attract and retain good teachers, meet accreditation standards and federal mandates, and prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the 21st century?
The legislature can provide ample resources and a regulatory structure that allows for experts in education and administration to do their work. Any large, public bureaucracy will have inefficiencies and disagreements about the best course to take. We need to hire competent people, ensure they are accountable, and then let them do their jobs.
o Rural schools are struggling to find educators. Virtual educators with local support?
o A network of rural schools with a global focus, rather than isolated communities.
o Enrollment would not be based on local population, but on offerings that attract learners from any location in the world.
o Local learners may come to school and attend offerings from other locations.
o Community partners co-located: senior care, day care, health clinic, fitness, fab lab, library, café, whatever the community needs to thrive. Combination of for-profit & non-profit
o Learners fail often, create evidence of what they know. Work on projects that
reflect issues of cultural, community or global relevance. Projects include community partners
o Learners work in paid internships on and off campus.
o Learners launch businesses, patent ideas, publish books, films, etc. Share a portion of earnings with school.
3. What priority will you place as a legislator on providing appropriate educational programs for students with disability and other special populations such as gifted students, at-risk students and students in poverty?
Montana’s legislature has an important role to play in addressing the educational needs of underserved areas and disadvantaged populations. I think it is in the public interest that all individuals have the opportunity to fulfill their potential. Providing an equalizing force that opens opportunity to all should be a high priority for government. Ideally Individualized Education Programs (IEP) for all.
4. Given the risk of school shootings and other violent acts committed on school properties, what can and should our elected officials do to ensure the safety of the students and teachers in our schools?
⦁ Advance evidence-based gun violence prevention
⦁ Preserve civil liberties and anti-discrimination protections
⦁ Prioritize systemic changes over individual punishment
⦁ Limit access to equipment that makes mass shootings deadlier
⦁ Implement safety checks for all gun buyers
⦁ Promote and strengthen community engagement by implementing community-based violence intervention and prevention programs
⦁ It may be helpful to coordinate the focus on school safety with Dr. Dan Lee of the University of Montana Safe Schools Center.
⦁ https://reflexprotect.com/, an effective, intuitive–to-use, and accurate non-lethal self-defense product.
⦁ Brightways Learning- web of support
⦁ Focus on knowing every child well in every school
5. What is your position on school choice and vouchers or tax credits for private and parochial schools in Montana?
I support the right of parents to send their children to private schools. Our obligation as taxpayers and citizens is to maintain high quality public schools that are open to all and free of charge. Taxpayer money should not be diverted from that.
6. How should the state contribute to much-needed funding for aging school facilities, infrastructure, and outdated technology needs in our schools?
1. Consider state-wide levy similar to 6 mil for higher education.
2. Back local bonds with Coal Trust to save local tax payers with better interest rates on debt.
3. Many small school districts have been hesitant to use SB307 permissive levy funds due to a concern about their ability to pass future and general obligation bonds and levies.
4. Restore State Aid for Debt Service with a reliable source of funding.
5. Consider researching the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission as a model long-term approach to improving school facilities. The OFCC has been able to improve nearly every school in Ohio over the past 25 years with a combination of local and state funding. For efficiency and consistency, the OFCC now oversees all K-12, Higher Education and publicly- funded facilities.
a. Update the 2008 facility study using resources from MSU Community Design Center.
b. Build enrollment forecasts district by district and use that information to better
c. Confirm gross square footage and compare to the number of students. Focus on greatest variance (too little/too much). Open conversations in those communities about the future- partners in success, co-locate on school grounds for community vitality.
d. Discuss consolidation
e. Consider virtual presence of educators in small communities
6. Consider striking MCA 2017 section 20-9-410-2 and modifying section 1 to read 30 years. It seems unnecessary to dictate the terms of a bond as a matter of local control.
20-9-410. Limitation of term and interest — timing for redemption.(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), school district bonds may not be issued for a term longer than 30 years, except that bonds issued to refund or redeem outstanding bonds may not be issued for a term longer than 10 years unless the unexpired term of the bonds to be refunded or redeemed is in excess of 10 years, in which case the refunding or redeeming bonds may be issued for the unexpired term. Other than refunding or redeeming bonds, all bonds issued for a longer term than 5 years must be redeemable at the option of the school district on any interest payment date after one-half of the term for which they were issued has expired, and the redemption option must be stated on the face of the bonds. The interest must be as provided under17-5-102and must be payable semiannually.
(2) School district bonds may be issued for a term of up to 30 years if the rate on the bonds is less than or equal to the rate on bonds issued with a term of 20 years and the bonds are sold to the United States or an agency, instrumentality, or corporation of the United States.
(3) For purposes of this section, the term of a bond issue commences on July 1 of the fiscal year in which the school district first levies taxes to pay the principal and interest on the bonds.
7. Currently the school district takes advantage of funding provided by non-school district sources to provide food programs for hungry students and affordable and convenient access to health care. Do you support such programs? Why or why not?
Yes. Kids who are hungry or sick can not learn well.