Voters consider school levies, trustees

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(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Inter Lake is writing about school elections in two parts, today and tomorrow. We are including a recap of levy requests, as well as brief bios on trustee candidates in contested races. Check back tomorrow if your district is not included today.)


Daily Inter Lake

School elections are approaching and some school districts will be holding mail-ballot elections while others will have polls open on May 8.

Districts holding mail-in elections, such as Bigfork, have a deadline of April 23 to mail ballots to voters. Ballots must be returned to respective school districts by May 8.

Columbia Falls, Kalispell and Whitefish school districts will be holding walk-in elections.

The following is biographical information on candidates in contested school board trustee races, in addition to a recap of school districts that will have levy requests on the ballot.

Voters may see either one of two types of levies. General fund levies go toward the day-to-day operation and maintenance of schools. Money raised by a general fund levy can be used for a broad range of expenses such as personnel, classroom supplies, textbooks, technology and building repairs. Technology fund levy money is used for the rental, purchase or maintenance of technology and training.

Typically, there is no expiration on a general fund levy, unlike technology levies that have 10-year durations.


Kalispell Public Schools will have a $1 million general fund levy for the elementary district on the ballot. Annual taxes may increase by $50.37 on homes valued at $200,000, if the levy passes.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on May 8 at the Country Fair Kitchen at Flathead County Fairgrounds on Meridian Road. Contact district clerk Gwyn Andersen at 406-751-3445 or for more information.


Bigfork School District has technology fund levy requests on the ballot that would generate $150,000 for the elementary district and $100,000 for the high school district. Annual taxes may increase by $14.13, and $7.54 respectively on homes valued at $200,000. The school district will hold a mail-ballot election. Contact district clerk Lacey Porrovecchio at 406-837-7400 or for more information.


Columbia Falls School District is asking for a $485,000 technology levy for its elementary district that may increase annual taxes by $43.20 on homes valued at $200,000, if approved.

There are five candidates vying for two seats on the board.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 8 at Glacier Gateway Elementary, 440 Fourth Ave. W. Call district clerk Dustin Zuffelato at 406-892-6550 or for more information

• Bruce Crockett

Age: 34

Occupation: Lead pastor at Gateway Church in Columbia Falls.

Family: Wife, Jessica Crockett; four children: Katherine, 13, Isaac, 10, Eli, 8, and Emerie, 3.

Education: Independence High School; bachelor of arts degree from Blue Mountain College; Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.

Background: Licensed foster care parent; North Valley Search and Rescue volunteer; Columbia Falls Little Guy Wrestling and baseball coach; founding board member with Turning Point Pregnancy Center in Scottsboro, Alabama; served as a student minister for more than 13 years working with junior high and high schools to invest in the lives of students; volunteer tutor for two years with the TN Baptist Children’s Home.

• Jonathan Foust

Age: 40

Occupation: City of Kalispell Public Works, 12 years; U.S. Army Reserve, 17 years.

Family: Wife, Dawn Foust; two children, Gwen and Jonathan.

Education: Completed Primary Leadership Development and Advanced Leaders programs, both through the U.S. Army; received American Backflow Prevention Association certified; licensed Montana Water Operator; attended the Sonoran Desert Institute advanced gunsmithing program.

Background: Montana native and Flathead Valley resident since 2000; Evergreen Fire Department board of trustees president; AFSCME Local 256 Union president; NWTF Chapter Glacier Gobblers vice president; volunteer EMT with Evergreen Fire Department; Columbia Falls American Legion Post 72 member; one CONUS military deployment, 2005-2011.

• Michael Nicosia

Occupation: President of Nicosia Consulting, L.L.C.; retired Columbia Falls School District superintendent, 1995-2014.

Family: Wife, Susan; three children, Michael 22, Carla, 21 and Ann, 19.

Education: Bachelor of Science in education, Master of Education in administration, doctorate in education administration.

Background: Kalispell City-County Board of Health member; Columbia Falls Student Assistance Team member; 2007 Montana Superintendent of the Year; Montana K-12 Public School Renewal Commission commissioner; Montana Quality Education Coalition founder and former executive director; Northwest Montana Association of School Superintendents past president; former member of the Columbia Falls Chamber of Commerce, North Valley Hospital Board of Directors, American Association of School Administrators executive board, Montana Association of School Superintendents executive board, and former chairman of the Gold Star Teacher Award Selection Committee.

• Jill Rocksund (i)

Age: 62

Occupation: Retired from a 29-year career as an educator; served as the curriculum director and an elementary principal in Whitefish School District for 15 years; worked in West Glacier Elementary for nine years as a supervising teacher, kindergarten teacher and special education teacher; taught in a private school for developmentally disabled children in Missouri for five years and was a stay-at-home mom for five years.

Family: Husband, Dan Yuhas; two sons, Gunnar and Tait; daughter-in-law Rachel; and 2-year-old granddaughter Liv, all of Columbia Falls.

Education: Bachelor of Science degree in elementary and special education and a Master of Education in special education, both from the University of Missouri; Doctorate in Education degree with an emphasis in school board governance from Montana State University with administrative endorsements.

Background: Columbia Falls resident for 35 years; served on the Columbia Falls School District board for 24 years and is the current chairwoman, serving committees related to long-range planning, policy/Title IX and insurance, professional development and negotiations; participated in the Students on Board program at Columbia Falls High School; active participant in Montana School Boards Association training and will represent Flathead, Lake and Lincoln counties as a Region 1 delegate at the Montana School Boards Association Delegate Assembly in June; has previously served on the American Cancer Society and Flathead County Library Foundation boards.

• Kyle Rosas

Age: 28

Occupation: A pastor at Gateway Church in Columbia Falls

Family: Wife, Marisa; child, Helen Claire, 8-weeks-old.

Education: Munford High School; Bachelor of Arts in biblical studies from Blue Mountain College; Master of Divinity in missiology and intercultural studies from Mid America Baptist Theological Seminary.

Background: Member of North Valley Search and Rescue; Columbia Falls High School wrestling team volunteer; started an inner city after-school program designed to help kids grow in their education at Balmoral Ridgeway Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee in 2015.


Whitefish School District is requesting a general fund levy that would generate $95,125 for the elementary district. If approved, annual taxes may increase by $4.54 on homes valued at $200,000.

Three are two openings on the school board with three candidates.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Whitefish School District board room located at 600 E. Second St. Contact district clerk Danelle Reisch at or 406-862-8643 for more information.

Ruth Harrison (i)

Age: 69

Occupation: Previously worked as the Pleasant Valley School District clerk while supervising Montana Academy students; was a substitute and aide; former seventh-grade teacher in Hays; previously taught high school English in Culbertson; her primary occupation has always been raising her family and being a homemaker.

Family: Husband, Gil; sons, David and Michael.

Education: Whitefish High School; Bachelor of Arts in English/Spanish with secondary certification from the University of Montana.

Background: Volunteer writing coach in Whitefish High School and Whitefish Middle School; member of Whitefish School District board, 12 years; Whitefish Performing Arts Center Steering Committee, Whitefish Education Foundation board, St. Peter Lutheran Church choir, and Crown of the Continent Choir; St. Peter Lutheran Church treasurer; former Pleasant Valley School District board member, 10 years; has extensive training in school governance through Montana School Boards Association.

• Marguerite Kaminski (i)

Occupation: Served as a U.S. Air Force officer during the Vietnam era; conducted a contracts consulting firm before becoming an attorney presently licensed in three states; conducted her own civil law practice since 1988.

Family: Five adult children.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of New Hampshire; Master of Business Administration degree and law degree, both from the University of New Mexico.

Background: Whitefish School District board member; leads swim lessons at the WAVE; head lifeguard and boat inspector for the city of Whitefish; occasional guest teacher in Columbia Falls School District since 2006; Flathead Soccer board member, five years; soccer referee, six years; soccer coach, 10 years; snowboard instructor for 10 years; involved in school and athletic activities while a resident of Custer County in Colorado; led an elementary parent group; member of Goal Miners Soccer board.

Betsy Kohnstamm

Age: 60

Occupation: Retired reading specialist in Columbia Falls School District. Previously taught bilingual, multi-age and fourth- and fifth-grade students in several states and Mexico — locally in Deer Park, West Glacier, Helena Flats and Kalispell schools with 10 years in Columbia Falls.

Family: Husband, Dan; two adult children, Mary and Carl.

Education: Bachelor of Arts degree from Middlebury College; Master of Arts degree in curriculum and instruction from Columbia University.

Background: Facilitator for the Columbia Falls bookmobile, a program to fight the “summer slide”; Columbia Falls School District volunteer; frequent presenter and former chairwoman of the Northwest Montana Reading Council; former member of North Valley Music School board and the Children’s House Montessori School board; Glacier Symphony musician; Whitefish Soroptimist Club.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or

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