Two board positions at stake in Kalispell schools election

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By HILARY MATHESON

Daily Inter Lake

Kalispell Public Schools has two contested seats representing the elementary district. Both are for three-year terms.

Candidates are incumbent Bette Albright, Rebecca Linden, Scott Plotkin and Diane Morton Stout.

A mail-ballot election will be held. Approximately 15,000 ballots will be mailed out to active, registered voters in the Kalispell elementary district on April 17. Ballots must be received by 8 p.m. May 2, in the central administration building, 233 First Ave. E., Kalispell.

• Incumbent Bette Albright, 76, has seen education work from multiple perspectives as a retired educator of 25 years. She brings experience to the table now in her sixth year serving the Kalispell Public Schools board.

“It takes awhile to understand the process of the board,” Albright said, likening it to learning a new job.

Currently she serves as a board representative on a committee involved with the design process of the new south elementary school on Airport Road. Albright said she would like to continue being part of the process as the district embarks on construction projects at the elementary level totaling $25.3 million and $28.8 million at the high school level to deal with overcrowding and aging facilities.

Albright also currently serves on committees involving curriculum and government projects (special education).

Some of the issues Albright sees as a priority is funding, which directly ties to other areas she is interested in — providing quality programming and retaining quality teachers.

“Funding is a big issue — funding from the state, from the federal level and coming up with creative funding in the community — to meet our needs,” Albright said. “I also want to help parents become more informed and involved.”

• Rebecca Linden, 49, believes she will bring “a fresh perspective,” to the board.

Linden previously ran in the 2016 school trustee election and lost, but is optimistic her outside view of schools from the perspective of parent and former business owner will resonate with voters.

Linden, a mother of two who has been an active volunteer in her children’s school, said communication between the district and parents is a top issue Linden would like to work on if elected.

“The board and schools do wonderful things, but maybe has not communicated that. I would make sure we’re communicating and soliciting input,” Linden said. “Parents don’t know what’s going on in schools. I want to work on getting information out there.”

Linden is also focused on ensuring that children receive quality education and that teachers are receiving support.

“Education, communication, working together and how we support our teachers so they can do the best in the classroom for our students is why I’m running again because I think I can help,” Linden said.

Linden holds a bachelor’s degree in theoretical mathematics and a master’s in plant physiology and has taught at the college level. She served on the Glacier Symphony and Chorale board from 2013-15 and the New York-based Horace Mann Action Coalition from 2012-15.

• Diane Morton Stout, 46, a Flathead High School alumna, is “a product of” Kalispell Public Schools.

Morton Stout also previously ran in the 2016 school trustee election and lost, but is hopeful that she will earn a seat on the elementary district to “give back” her time and talent as a civic responsibility.

“Stronger schools are created through a sense of ownership by our stakeholders,” Morton Stout said. “Volunteer leadership shines through when we support our passion and mine is the educational system in our community.”

Morton Stout currently serves as program manager of Leadership Flathead through the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce and has been a member of the Flathead Valley Community College Foundation Board since 2006.

The mother of four boys, of whom three currently attend schools in the district, is interested in meeting curriculum and technology needs within a budget.

“I’m interested in curriculum issues facing our schools, how to afford expanding technology needs, dealing with increased enrollment and our new elementary school. We need to meet our students’ needs, while cognizant of our funding limitations,” Morton Stout said.

Morton Stout holds a master’s in teaching and graduate studies in educational leadership.

• Scott Plotkin, 63, is a retired grandfather with grandchildren enrolled in the district who would like to put to use decades of experience to use in educational leadership.

A priority for Plotkin is the “perennial problem of funding,” and lack of resources.

“I bring experience to manage those priorities and to ensure that we have spent tax dollars wisely,” Plotkin said.

Prior to retirement, Plotkin served as executive director of the California School Boards Association, as chief consultant and staff director for the California State Legislature Senate Committee on Education and was director of governmental affairs for California State University Office of the Chancellor.

“I’m interested in taking those years of experience to Kalispell Public Schools board,” Plotkin said. “I think my desire to resume public service is to ensure Kalispell Public Schools is not only a great place for kids to learn, but also a great place to work.”

He noted the community’s support of schools to pass bonds that will fund construction projects throughout the district.

“The community has provided a lot of support through the passage of bonds,” Plotkin said. “I have a lot of experience when it comes to building schools and renovating schools and I’d like to be able to bring that experience to the Kalispell Public Schools board as well.”

IN THE high school district, three candidates will be seated by acclamation because the number of applicants equaled the number of available positions. They are incumbent Jack Fallon, incumbent Jon Endresen and Mark Kornick.

Reporter Hilary Matheson can be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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