On April 17, Jefferson County will mail ballots to voters in Jefferson High School District No. 1 and Montana City School District No. 27. Up for vote in the former is one at-large trustee position with a three-year-term; in the latter, one trustee position with a three-year-term. The Monitor asked each of the four candidates to supply a short biography and a statement that addressed their positions on key issues and their reasons for seeking election. Their responses have been edited for length or clarity.

Montana City School District No. 27

Elizabeth Ferriter (incumbent)

Most of my life has been focused on raising and educating children. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education/Special Education from Eastern Montana College, I taught in Noxon and Great Falls school districts, ran a licensed in-home day care in Missoula and earned college credits in education from UM. In 1988 we moved to Montana City. Here our five kids graduated from Montana City School and I ran a licensed in-home day care center.

In 2004 I began working at what is now Montana City Kids preschool, afterschool and summer programs. I’m now its program director, yet still focus on teaching preschool and providing tutoring and enrichment programs. I have been on the Montana City School Board for over 15 years.

STATEMENT

I anticipate Montana City School District voters will recognize my commitment to the education of our children. Over the past three decades, I have come to know many children and families here, mostly through Montana City Kids. The program provides preschool education to 20-25 children annually, serves 50-60 children after school each day and 60-75 children during summer. This exposure has given me valuable insight to the needs and expectations of Montana City School’s students. I believe everything we do must be done “for the kids.”

Montana City Kids’ location on Montana City School grounds lets me network regularly with teachers and staff and to interact with students as I help afterschool students with homework and projects. All this supports my board service, letting me see firsthand students’ education needs from technology to appropriate classroom space.

I am thankful for voters’ support in my past efforts to serve on the board on behalf of our community, children, teachers and staff. I hope voters will support my serving another three-year term. My commitment to serve taxpayers in the educational needs of our children while remaining mindful of budgetary issues and the financial commitment of Montana City households remains important to me. I understand a board member’s responsibility to balance the school’s needs with those of district property owners. I assure you I will remain diligent in responsibly representing them.

Patricia Spencer

I have lived in Montana City since 2005 and have three school-age children, one at Montana City School and two at Helena High. I am the public information officer for the Lewis and Clark Library and a graduate of Carroll College (B.A., History) and Oregon State University (M.A., English).

I was on the Downtown Helena, Inc. board from 2001 to 2010, serving four terms as chair and instrumental in rebranding the downtown core and renewing the Business Improvement District in 2010. From 2017-2018, I chaired the Queen City Ballet Company board. In January 2019, I was appointed to the Save-the-Brain Helena board.

With my family I have helped with the Montana City Firefighter’s St. Baldrick’s event for several years. I have been a citizen advocate during legislative sessions, working on bills to make our schools safer and to improve services for all students. I authored “Helena, Montana: The Queen City of the Rockies and the Broadwater Hotel” and have been an adjunct in the Department of Communication Studies at Carroll College since 2004.

STATEMENT

As a parent and community member, I have a strong interest in making our schools safer; improving services to children with learning and physical disabilities; and improving communication between parents/caregivers and the school. Children who feel safe and valued become productive community members and I want all children to thrive at Montana City School. I have a strong background in communication and board leadership and will use those skills and experiences to be an effective Montana City School Board member.

In 2015 I worked with Rep. Kimberly Dudik (D) to pass the Bully Free Montana Act. During the 2019 Legislative Session, I worked with Sen. Carry Smith (R) on the Montana Dyslexia Screening and Intervention Act. I have a proven record of working with all members of government on non-partisan issues that impact our young people and would appreciate your vote to serve on the Montana City School Board

Jefferson High School District No. 1

Larry Rasch (incumbent)

My wife Patsy and I have lived in Clancy since 1992, where our four children were born and have grown up. All four attended Clancy grade school and Jefferson High. My daughter Kristian graduated JHS in 2012, my son Jacob in 2017, son Nathan in 2018 and Derek will graduate in 2021.

I have been a trustee at JHS since 2012. I work for an engineering firm as field operations manager and Patsy works for the State of Montana as a CSC. I graduated from Billings Senior High and MSU Billings. We are active members of Friendship Baptist Church in Montana City, where I am a past trustee. My background is in management and I previously owned my own business. My family loves our state, county and community and all that it offers us in opportunity and adventure.

STATEMENT

Since I began serving on the JHS board in 2012, the school has grown remarkably in both student population and quality of education. The environment at JHS has changed dramatically over the past decade and has become one of the shining stars in Montana in High School education. This in no small part due to the administration, teachers, staff and the amazing support from the community.

JHS has been blessed with some amazing hires and is well known regionally, statewide and even nationally for its academic achievements -- including the high GPA of its student athletes -- and its drama, music and art programs. I would like to continue the growth and quality of the educational experience that JHS offers and am very proud of what has been accomplished thus far. Administrators, teachers and staff have worked tirelessly in improving JHS and I would like to continue to assist in that growth. I have done my best to assure that JHS operates as best it can, while remaining as fiscally responsible to our taxpayers and our community.

For those things that we have improved and continue to improve, we as a board have searched out grants and other opportunities to enhance Jefferson High’s environment, quality of education, technology and facilities without putting any undue stress on our tax base. I would like to continue improving our facilities and increasing our educational opportunities to give our students the best possible environment and opportunities.

I am very proud of JHS, its student body, staff, parents and community that make it what it is. The number one thing the school board has focused on while I have been on it is “what is best for the students and how can we make it happen?” I would love to be allowed to continue my involvement as trustee and would be very thankful for your support.

Sarah Brown

My family moved to Clancy a year ago. We have five children with another due in June. While new to the area, we are deeply committed to the community we raise our family in. I grew up in Schenectady, New York then moved to Provo, Utah at the end of high school. After completing my Bachelors in Nursing from Regis University in Denver, I worked as a pediatric nurse at the children’s hospital in Salt Lake City. Shortly after I earned my Masters Degree in Nursing as a family nurse practitioner from the University of Utah. Kevin and I married and we lived back east so he could complete his medical training.

I stopped working as a nurse once I had three children and enjoy being a stay at home mom. Kevin is employed as a urologist with St. Peter’s Regional Medical Center. This fall I will have four children in Clancy Elementary school and I look forward to having the opportunity to be a part of decisions that will directly affect them in a few years.

STATEMENT

I would be thrilled to join the Jefferson High School board. While my children are currently in elementary school, I recognize the decisions made by the school board now will have a direct impact on their academic future. I want to be able to help with this process to ensure the high quality education that is currently in place at Jefferson High will continue to be supported and able to grow to exciting new levels.

I recognize the high caliber of teachers and staff already in the district and feel it very important to continue to support them in all they do for our children. We need to be able to continue to retain and add teachers that will push our children to high academic standards and support their personal development. I also believe in financial prudence and being practical and intentional with how funds are used.

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