Local school districts gear up for levy, trustee elections

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School elections are approaching and some school districts will be holding mail-ballot elections with ballots mailed out this week. Other districts will open polling stations on election day, May 7.

Districts holding mail-in elections have until Monday, April 22, to mail ballots to active, registered voters. Ballots must be returned to respective school districts by May 7. Districts holding mail-ballot elections include Kalispell Public Schools, Marion and West Valley school districts.

Evergreen and Whitefish will hold walk-in elections.

Voters may see two types of levies on their ballots. 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 or maintenance. Technology fund levy money is specifically 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.

Voters are reminded that the new Montana Ballot Interference Prevention Act goes into effect and impacts individuals who are collecting and delivering another individual’s ballot.

A person bringing in another voter’s ballot must sign a registry with their name address and phone number. The person must also provide their relationship to the voter such as: caregiver, family member, household member or acquaintance in addition to the voter’s name and address. A person may drop off a maximum of six ballots. Anything above that amount may result in a $500 fine per ballot.

Following is a roundup of school district levy requests and biographical information provided by candidates in contested school board trustee races.

Evergreen

A $295,000 general fund levy will be on the ballot. If approved, owners of homes with assessed values of $200,000 may see an annual tax increase of $70.34.

There are three trustee candidates vying for two, three-year terms on the school board.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on May 7 at the school located at 18 West Evergreen Drive in Kalispell.

• Brant Karlstad

Age: 50

Occupation: Tow truck operator for last 20 years with Bolster’s Towing.

Family: Wife Jeanne, three children, Hunter, Broke, and Payton

Education: High school graduate with some college and has taken several certification classes.

Background: Current Flathead County Sheriff’s Posse building superintendent; served on the Flathead County Sheriff’s Posse at the reserve deputy level for the past 25 years; elected and served 13 years on the board as captain; previously spent about 12 years with Whitefish Volunteer Fire Department, was treasurer on the board for a year and spent a year as assistant chief.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? As a parent of three kids who have all gone to Evergreen School district for the last 12 years, I would just like to help keep this school moving in the direction that I feel has helped my kids to be better prepared to become adults.

• Dave Lowitz (Incumbent)

Age: 55

Occupation: Owner of Lowitz Custom Shoppe.

Family: Wife Melanie, two daughters ages 27 and 25, both former Evergreen students.

Education: Three years of college.

Background: Evergreen School District board member for 19 years, of which, 18 were as vice chair; attended several school board professional development trainings; attended three National School Board conferences; during his tenure the board was named a Montana Honor School Board of the Year for 2018-19 and the school district received AdvancED accreditation in addition to the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce Sprucing Up Evergreen award. Previous experience serving on the Marion School District board for two years and on the Marion Volunteer Fire Department for two years.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? I am very proud and honored to be a part of a great team whose decisions are always based on what is best for the students at Evergreen, not anyone’s personal agenda!

• Tamara Williams (Incumbent)

Age: 57

Occupation: Owner of Insty Prints Kalispell and Polson locations.

Family: Husband Chuck, son Jacob, 25, and Ali, 21, both former Evergreen students.

Education: Carroll College graduate.

Background: Currently serve as board chair for Evergreen Schools, trustee for 20 years. Also serve on boards for Glacier Symphony, Gateway Community Center, board member and past president Rotary Club of Kalispell, Advisory committee for Evergreen Fire District. Active and community minded volunteer.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? I have a sincere passion to serve the students of Evergreen, working towards academic success and growth as productive citizens, while responsibly representing the constituents of the district.

Kalispell Public Schools

Voters living in the high school district, which includes Kalispell and residents of 13 outlying partner school districts, will see a $1.2 million general fund levy on the ballot.

Owners of homes with assessed values of $200,000 can anticipate annual taxes to increase by $25.71 if approved.

The last high school general fund levy was passed in 2007. In that time, the district gained 333 students and increased its building footprint by about 56,000 square feet.

There is one contested seat on the high school district with two candidates running. The opening is for a one-year term representing Marion, Olney-Bissell, Pleasant Valley, Smith Valley and West Valley school districts.

There is also one contested seat on the elementary district and two candidates vying for the two-year term.

Approximately 37,736 ballots will be mailed out Monday and are due by 8 p.m. May 7 in the Central Office, 233 First Ave. E.

Elementary district candidates are:

• Sue Corrigan

Age: 61

Occupation: Recently retired National Board Certified special education teacher at Flathead High School for 17 years with four years as a department head. Flathead High School assistant and head coach for 10 years. First job was working for the Montana Office of Public Instruction.

Family: Married, daughter who is a Flathead High School graduate.

Education: Bachelor of Science degree in recreation resource management and graduate work in public administration from the University of Montana; obtained her degree in education from the University of Great Falls; certified to teach history and political science in addition to special education.

Background: Member of the Citizen Advisory Council for Region 1 of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; past president of the Conrad Mansion board of directors; former president of the Hedges Elementary Parent Teacher Organization and helped raise funds to rebuild the playground; former Girl Scout Leader and former member of the Glacier Natural History Association and the Glacier Conservancy boards.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? The reason I hope to be a school trustee is because today’s children are our future and I hope to support education as their path to a promising future.

• Rebecca Linden

Age: 51

Occupation: Botanist.

Family: Two sons in Kalispell Public Schools at the elementary and middle school level.

Education: Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Bard College and an Master of Science in Biology with a specialty in physiological botany from the University of Kansas.

Background: Involved in activities brought to her children’s schools including maypole dances, felting classes, and a chili cook-off art fundraiser; three-year member of the Horace Mann Action Committee board; two-year member of the Glacier Symphony and Chorale board; director of the Montana Herb Gathering for four years; founded and sold a manufacturing business.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? I will make an effective trustee and steward for the district as my core vision for District 5 is in line with the dedicated board we currently have: educational excellence, well-integrated extracurricular opportunities, a balanced budget, a safe and welcoming environment for all, and good communication of our policies and successes to staff, parents, teachers, and students.

High School District trustee candidates are:

• Anna Marie Bailey

Age: 63

Family: Husband Dave, adult daughters Michele and Danielle.

Background: Served on Kalispell Public Schools board of trustees for more than 20 years, representing elementary district.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? I hope to continue to provide a strong connection between the Kalispell Education Foundation, the school district 5 school board and our community.

• April Snell

Age: 41

Occupation: Business owner.

Family: Husband and two high-school aged children who are the fifth generation to attend Flathead.

Education: High school and college.

Background: Previously served on the Discovery Developmental Center board and was a member of the PTC at their elementary school; worked various positions at Smith Valley school and was the administrative assistant at West Valley school for several years during their $7 million bond issue; local business owner for more than 20 years.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? To make a difference, and assure our voices are heard to keep our schools safe.

Marion

Marion School District residents will see two levies on the ballot — a $112,000 general fund levy and a $90,250 technology levy.

If the general fund levy is approved, annual taxes may increase by $43.90 for owners of homes with an assessed value of $200,000. If the technology levy is approved, owners may see a $35.37 increase.

Polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m. May 7 at the Marion Volunteer Fire Hall.

West Valley

West Valley School District will run a $200,000 general fund levy.

The last time a general fund levy was passed was in 2007. The school has experienced a 60 percent enrollment increase in addition to a facility footprint that’s grown by about 36,000 square feet.

If approved, owners of homes with assessed values of $200,000 could anticipate annual taxes increasing by $53.78.

Approximately 3,093 ballots were mailed out on Friday and are due at the school by 8 p.m. on May 7.

Whitefish

Whitefish will be running technology levies for the high school and elementary districts. A general fund levy will also be on the ballot for the elementary district.

The elementary general fund levy is for $50,975. If approved, owners of homes with $200,000 assessed values can expect an annual tax increase of $2.43.

The technology levy is for $321,600. The annual tax impact is estimated to be an $11.08 increase, if approved.

Voters living in the high school district, which encompasses Whitefish and a portion of Olney-Bissell School District residents, will see a $158,400 technology levy on the ballot. If approved, owners of homes with assessed values of $200,000 may see an annual tax increase of $3.80.

There are two, three-year terms open on the school board with four candidates.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 7 at the Whitefish Middle School located at 600 E. Second St.

• Marguerite Kaminski

Family: Five adult children who all graduated from Whitefish schools.

Occupation: Currently serves as a boat inspector, swim instructor at the Wave, Last Chair host and helps out at Stumptown Ice Den; former attorney who is still licensed; previously taught estate planning for 10 years; former business owner; former active duty U.S. Air Force procurement officer.

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; studied free market economics abroad at the University of Salzburg, Austria.

Background: Flathead Soccer Club board member for more than four years; served on Whitefish School District board of trustees from 2015-2018; substitute teacher in Colorado and Montana; have coached and reffed soccer; taught snowboarding and swimming; participated in Citizens Police Academy programs with Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and Kalispell Police Department.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? The board needs people who are willing to speak up and ask questions, research the costs versus benefits of proposed and existing programs, in all regards, recommend changes and make decisions, and I do that.

• Todd Lengacher

Age: 51

Family: Wife Erica, daughter Mia, a kindergartner at Muldown Elementary.

Occupation: Mathematics faculty member at Flathead Valley Community College and Director of International Studies study abroad program for The Putney School in Putney, Vermont.

Education: Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in mathematics from Western Washington University.

Background: Worked directly with the current Whitefish mathematics curriculum; currently working

See SCHOOLS, A7

with Whitefish School District staff to create an adult education class on how parents can help their children with math; Muldown Elementary volunteer; worked in different capacities with several educational boards of trustees; educator with more than 20 years of experience working as a teacher, math department chair, high school principal, assistant head of school, director of experiential education, dean of students in public and private schools and organizations in 13 countries; fluent in Spanish; lived and worked in Spain, Central America and South America; served on school accreditation teams; participated/led hiring searches, including at the executive/administrative level.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? I want to contribute meaningfully to the community in which we live; one obvious way to do so is to offer my time, energy, and experience to the district as we endeavor together to create a dynamic, inclusive, supportive, and engaging educational experience for our students, as well as our faculty/staff, and families.

• Nick Polumbus (incumbent)

Age: 46

Occupation: Whitefish Mountain Resort director of marketing and sales.

Family: Wife Kim, three sons who attend Whitefish Middle School.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Colorado, Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado.

Background: Served two terms on the Whitefish School District board, and is current board chair; 10 years on Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureau Board; current member of the Gary Norby Junior Golf Foundation and For the Children Inc. boards; past member of the North Valley Hospital Foundation board.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? I want to continue to serve on the Whitefish School Board because there are currently critical projects underway that I have been intimately involved with such as the Muldown building project and the strategic plan for the district and I want to continue to see those projects through.

• Darcy Schellinger

Age: 40

Family: Husband Kyle, daughter Ryenn, 10 and son Lane, 7.

Occupation: Stay-at-home mom; previously worked in agriculture, mortgage and commercial lending; worked as a commercial loan officer at First Interstate Bank in Whitefish for five years before becoming a mother.

Education: Attended public schools in Billings; obtained a business finance degree from Montana State University in Bozeman.

Background: Volunteer at Muldown Elementary over the past four years; started attending Whitefish School District board meetings and work sessions this year; previously served on the Whitefish Rotary board in addition to the Children’s House Montessori and Flathead Youth Home boards.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? With passion and understanding I want to bridge the gap that is evident between our school board and the classroom experience of our teachers and students in order to create a better educational experience for our kids.

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

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