Candidates interviewed for open school board seat
Lori Benson switches seats after fellow Libby Public School Board members elected her to head the panel on May 10. Benson replaced Ellen Johnston, who opted not to run for reelection this year. (Will Langhorne/The Western News)
The Western News | June 11, 2021 7:00 AM
Libby Public School Board members interviewed a slate of five candidates this week in hopes of filling an open seat on the panel.
While board members are generally elected to their posts, a seat went vacant during this year’s election cycle. Of the three trustees up for reelection in May, only Bgee Zimmerman filed paperwork. Rob Delmas was the only newcomer to announce his bid for a seat.
Despite the lack of candidates earlier in the year, board members saw recent surge in interest for the post. Residents Erica Hartley, Keith Ivers, Tracy McNew, Kristan Martin and Megan Rayome all threw their hats in the ring.
Before closing their June 7 meeting for deliberation, board members interviewed each of the candidates.
Hartley said she was interested in joining the panel because she had two children in Libby schools. If appointed, she said she would make herself open to feedback from residents. Hartley said she would like to see administrators seek more input from student athletes to help the district improve its sporting programs.
After working as an administrator and teacher in Libby schools for 18 years, Ivers said he was ready to help the district from another angle. Ivers told board members he would work to ensure that all his decisions were based on good information.
He applauded board members for the work that went into keeping schools open for in-person learning last year and pointed to the importance of helping students and teachers bounce back from the pandemic.
Like Hartley, Kristan Martin said she hoped to join the board because she had children in school and wanted to give back to the community. As a former member of a parent-teacher board, Martin said she knew how to collaborate and compromise. If appointed, Martin said she would incorporate community input into her work on the board.
McNew, who also is the parent of a student, said she was hoping to contribute to the community. Through her work as an administrative director for the CARD clinic and as a volunteer, McNew said she had learned how to work well with others. As a board member, McNew said she would work with other members to support the panel’s function as the legislative branch of the district.
Megan Rayome told board members that she had two stepchildren enrolled in Libby schools. As an attorney, the program director at the Lincoln County Campus of the Flathead Valley Community College and a member of other local panels, Rayome touted the diverse background she would bring to the school board. If elected, Rayome said she could help administrators navigate the potential financial turbulence she anticipated was coming in the near future.
The board is expected to announce its selection at an upcoming meeting.