There will be no candidate forum for the Troy Public Schools Board of Trustees prior to the Tuesday, May 7 election.
So, with assistance from Troy Public Schools, The Western News reached out to the five candidates by email and phone.
Ben Valentine, Sylvia Maffit and Kristina Boyd furnished us with written statements by email. Cecil McDougall and Jamie Derry were contacted by phone. Given the difference in how those responses came in, I have tried to present their responses in as fair a manner as possible, while maintaining a question and answer format.
The election on Tuesday will be at the Troy Activity Center, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The ballot allows voters to pick any two of the candidates to fill the vacancies being left by departing trustees Craig Pierce and Hy Boltz.
The candidates voted in May 7 will hold their new position as a trustee for three years.
Why are you running for the open position on the Board of Trustees?
I strongly believe in civic engagement and volunteerism. In a small community such as Troy, much of the work done to keep the community vibrant and moving forward is done by volunteers. And often volunteers are hard to come by. So I want to offer my time and be a part of my community.
I believe very strongly in education, and supporting and encouraging our students, teachers and administration as much as possible. I attended Troy schools, and the hard-working and dedicated teachers and coaches I had back then had an indelible impact on my life. Much more so than any college faculty I ever encountered. The elementary through high school age is when we mold our young people into being good citizens. We need a school staff that is well supported, trusted, and appreciated. If I can help in this way by being on the school board, than that is why I am running.
I also have two kids in the Troy schools now, and so I have a vested interest in seeing the school district succeed. From what I have observed so far, I really like the direction that the school district is heading and what they are doing. I want to be a part of that, and help ensure we stay on this positive trajectory.
When there is a need in our community to step up and get involved, I become interested. Two very positive and responsible trustees have chosen to retire from the board and those positions need to be filled with equally positive and responsible community members. I feel I can fill that need.
As the parent of a young child, I believe now is the best time for me to take an active role in the success of Troy schools. I have held board positions for several other professional organizations, which have brought a wonderful depth of knowledge and sense of investment in the organizations that I would not have had otherwise. I want this type of relationship with our school, which is so important to our community. As a member of the public, I’ve been attending school board meetings over the past year to get a broad understanding of how the board functions. There is a place, even a need, for parents of young school children at the table. I am ready to volunteer my time to take one of those places.
“Just to be more involved with my kids and their education. I have five — my youngest is technically not in school. He’ll be in school next year. And my oldest is graduating this year.”
“I want to be involved in everything. I’m a person that’s used to being involved in things.”
Derry added that since she stopped working at Families in Partnership, she has wanted to find other ways to be involved in the community.
I’m running for the students. (McDougall stated that his answer to each of the three questions would be, “The students.”)
What are the top one-or-two things you want to accomplish during your three year term?
The number one thing I would like to accomplish is to help keep the board on the same track they are on now. The schools continue to improve, keeping the children first in their plans and always looking for ways to make things better. The second is to keep in mind the need for funding, an ongoing issue, for sure. The public must, and deserves to be made aware of any funding needs and what areas we intend to show improvement that may need additional funds. If the public doesn’t know what’s going on, we will not be successful in gaining their support needed for these programs. I also believe the need for trustees to take advantage of the training programs provided by Montana School Boards Association is pivotal in a smooth-running, educated board.
One program I would like to see continue to flourish is the preschool at Morrison Elementary. It has been inspiring to see the progress these young ones make over the course of the year. They learn how to communicate and play with one another in ways that enable them, as a group, to create their own supportive learning environment for years to come. This kind of introduction to Troy Schools can only benefit its students, teachers, and parents. Other than that, being a first time candidate, I have no particular agenda at hand in this election. I feel I have a good, broad understanding of the board. But I also know I have a lot to learn. I want to make sure I have a clear idea of our community’s priorities for their children, as well as any constraints under which the school works to serve those priorities, as a solid foundation from which to make decisions. I’m in this for the long haul.
No specific topics given.
Derry said she wants to be involved in everything the Board of Trustees does, from working on safety to overseeing maintenance.
“I mean, just everything — everything that they do,” she said. “I just want to help out and see what’s up. I go to the school board meetings, and I find it interesting.”
No specific topics given. McDougall said he is just in it for the students.
I would probably have a better answer to this question after a year! There is a lot I don’t know about being a school board trustee, so at this point I don’t have any specific goals in mind that I would like to accomplish. In the few weeks since deciding to run, I’ve had conversations with folks that have given me some ideas on things we could perhaps improve or make more equitable. I would like to take a fresh look at training rules, also, ways in which we might compensate teachers for extra-curricular, non-athletic coaching, and take a look at what we can do to improve on our honors programs.
If I can bring some skills to the table and work with the district folks and other trustees to better our district in the next three years, then I will feel accomplished.
Is there anything else you want the public to know about you or your reasons for running for this position?
I’ve lived and worked in Troy for nearly 20 years now, and have grown deeply rooted. The experience I would bring to a position on the Board of Trustees, whether having held numerous other board positions, managed dozens of employees, written mountains of grants, climbed mountains of granite, or lived quietly and simply with my family — they all stem from my dedication to living and working in Troy. It has pushed me to reach further, think bolder and appreciate smaller. Troy can be such a launchpad for our children as well.
I want to help out with the schools and help kids — make sure everything’s safe, and effective.
I worked for Families in Partnership for years. I was in their Early Head Start. I was involved a lot in that. I eventually managed their childcare educational center, the Early Head Start part.
I just really like to be involved.
I am a good candidate for trustee because I am even-tempered, have sound judgment, and am a good collaborator and listener. I have professional skills that I can bring to the table in budgeting and understanding government policy. I am not running because I have any specific agenda. I am very interested in the success of all the students and faculty of the district and want to be a part of keeping us on a solid path. I understand that there are vastly different opinions and ideas among the citizens of this district about how the school should be run. I will always be open to hearing those opinions. I feel like, with sensible, reasoned dialog among a community, that we can always be successful and reach a decision that benefits the district.
I believe in public education. I’m a child of educators. My father was superintendent in Troy for years, and my mother taught elementary classes here. It seemed normal and comfortable to follow in their footsteps. I received a degree in Education of the Deaf and taught at MSDB [Montana School for the Deaf and Blind] for several years before accepting a second-grade position in Troy. I retired after 29 years in the classroom and decided to run for a trustee position the next year. I enjoyed nine years as a trustee and am eager and willing to have that responsibility again. I also am dedicated to the sports programs in our schools. I rarely miss sporting events and love cheering the Trojans on to victory! I am a proud citizen of Troy.