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Froid, Culbertson School Board Election Candidates; Polls Open May 8

The election of the Bainville School Board of Trustees has been cancelled, as there were not enough names filed for the election. John Gilligan and Tyler Traeger will stay in their three-year positions on the board.

The elections of the Culbertson School Board of Trustees will take place Tuesday, May 8, at the new school gym. Polls will be open from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m.
For Culbertson, two three-year positions are open. The terms of Cheryl Kirkaldie and Paul Finnicum will expire. Paul S. Finnicum, Jessica Schmitz, Josh Kempton and Mark A. Colvin will appear on the ballot.

Finnicum, who has been a member of Culbertson’s school board for some 15 years and has served as chairman for the past 13 years, wishes to continue his gained knowledge and experience out of the love he has for the school and wants to continue helping the students find new ways to achieve and succeed. He noted that, during the time he has been involved with the board, the Jobs for Montana’s Graduates and Business Professionals of America programs were brought to the school. “Every child has a chance to succeed,” he said.

Finnicum also noted that Culbertson school has students working as state officers in programs such as JMG, BPA and Future Farmers of America and that the school’s science program is the top in the state. “We are performing. I want to do what I can to ensure we continue to perform,” he said.

He shared that the students who are currently benefiting what Culbertson school offers will often return back some years after graduating to benefit the community. As Finnicum is of the third generation in his family to serve on the school board, he notes that he was raised to serve the community that has served him, something he plans to continue passionately.

The success of the student’s at Culbertson school is what Finnicum shares inspires him. He noted the pride he feels in knowing that, in the last 15 years, only one CHS student did not graduate. This brings CHS’s graduation rate to a nearly 100 percent. Attendance, he noted, is above 90 percent. “We’ve built something that the students have an interest in and they want to stay here,” Finnicum shared.

He also mentioned that ACT test scores are as high as they have been in the past decade. Finnicum noted that he feels credit is due to the staff and administration at Culbertson school and shared that he feels very fortunate to have them.

Finnicum mentioned that the school board has not levied a dime from the public to do school improvement projects and that he intends to keep it that way.
As for future changes that Finnicum hopes to work toward, developing more curriculum was mentioned first. He would like to someday see courses that offer learning life skills, civics and what it means to be a part of local governments such as school boards and city council.

Another thing he hopes to improve is working to strengthen communications to the public regarding the positives that Finnicum shares happen at the school on a daily basis.

Finnicum believes it is the duty of the board to be vigilant in keeping the oil and gas tax revenue in the area where it is impacted, not sent throughout the state.
When it comes to standardized testing, Finnicum shares that it has no impact on the students and that he would rather see them more focused on the mastery of subjects and material. “It needs to be worth while,” he noted.

Finnicum believes that it is the responsibility of the school board to formulate policies and procedures for staff to follow as well as handling any staff hires, fires and assignments. He shares that the board is in charge of the budget, developing curriculum and following Montana codes with knowledge based decision making. “We make an effort to know what we are doing when making decisions,” he said.

Schmitz was unavailable for comment as of presstime.

After having several individuals approach him and ask him to run in the election, Colvin decided to see if he could give back to the community and make sure that the students at Culbertson school get the best education possible, while devoting attention to their safety as well.

Colvin, who several years ago was the Culbertson junior high football coach, notes that he believes change is good. He wishes to help improve the school safety of students and improve public and school board relations to ensure the public stays informed. He also plans to tackle teacher recruitment and retention.
“I believe the school board should be the liaison between the public and the school and to make sure the students get the best education possible,” Colvin stated.

Kempton was unavailable for comment as of presstime.

The election of the Froid School Board of Trustees will take place on Tuesday, May 8 from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m. in the New Gym. The terms of Lynda Labatte and Scott Westlund are to expire. Labatte, Blake Murray and Scott Westlund will appear on the ballot.

Labatte is currently finishing up her first three-year term on the board. “I have learned so much and it takes a great deal of time to learn everything that a school board represents,” she shared. “I feel that I can put that knowledge to use,” she added.
Labatte hopes to be on the board as support for the students, teachers and administration of Froid Public School. To her, the purpose of a school board should be to govern in a transparent way and follow recommendations proposed by administration when possible.

Westlund, who is finishing his first term on the board, wishes to serve a second term as a civic duty and give back to the community. He notes that while the school board has tackled a lot in the last three years, he plans to make improvements when they are found and continue moving forward.
“A school board exists to govern. We don’t run the school; we give direction and are the policy makers,” he shared.

Murray, having children attending Froid school, wishes to become more involved with the school, know what is going on and become engaged. He believes that in small communities, everyone eventually gets involved and takes their turn at continuing to make the community a positive place.
While attending Froid school in his youth, Murray shares that, along with a few other students and then superintendent Roger Britton, he helped write Froid’s mission statement. He also worked at the school when he was a student.

Murray would like to see the school increase their technology department and have the students be more engaged in current technology. He notes that, while recently the school has made considerable jumps, he is concerned that if they don’t stay current, they will be left behind. He hopes to apply for more funding in the budget to make this a reality for the students at Froid.

He also has an interest in providing a larger work space for students involved with the woodshop and small engines courses offered at the school. “With Froid being a farming and ranching community, I’d like to see the students have the resources to learn welding, carpentry and mechanics. In this area, I feel vocational programs are more valuable,” he added.

Murray shares that he believes the purpose of a school board should be providing a safe and comfortable environment for students. He wishes to put forth policies that help them learn and not policies that do not mean anything.

When it comes to passing policies, he plans to make the best decisions with the board without influence of any personal agendas. “With my kids being in school, I will not have that be my driving factor behind my decisions. I’d like to keep that seperate. That’s my goal,” Murray stated.