Former teacher and school administrator Sandy Welch announced her run for state superintendent of schools during a statewide tour Tuesday.
Welch, from Kalispell, is a Republican and will challenge current state Superintendent Denise Juneau, a Democrat.
“My vision for education is a vision for academic excellence,” she said from her stop in Billings.
Welch expressed her frustration with what she described as unnecessary regulatory mandates from the state Office of Public Instruction and said the success of Montana depends in large part on a well-educated populace.
“OPI must be refocused on that core mission,” she said.
If she were elected, she said high-achieving schools would be given more flexibility in how they follow state mandates.
Regulations that don’t serve the students of Montana would be phased out, she said.
As an example, she said, enrollment increases of just a few children can trigger a requirement for that school to hire an additional administrator.
These types of rules make no sense, she said. The state needs to stop making decisions that should be made in the local school, she said.
Welch also advocated for increased development of the state’s natural resources and tying the increased revenue it would bring directly to education.
Bruce Tutvedt, state senate president pro tempore, introduced Welch at Tuesday’s Billings press conference.
“What excites me most about Sandy is her energy, intellect and commitment to putting children first,” he said.
Welch spoke at length about the need for students to excel in their studies. Successful students mean a successful state, she said. A better educated populace will bring in more industry and better paying jobs, she said.
To do that will require better technology, something that’s already changing the classroom and the way students learn, she said.
“I understand the issues facing our schools as we move into the 21st century,” she said. “Education 10 years from now will look completely different than it does now.”