Deadline approaches to file for SD2 board race

2014-03-06T00:15:00Z Deadline approaches to file for SD2 board raceBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Just three weeks left to file for the School District 2 board race.

Up for grabs this May are three seats, representing the South Side, the east side of the Heights with a portion of downtown, and the outlying areas that feed into SD2’s high schools.

The only contested race so far is Zone 2, which encompasses the east side of the Heights and downtown Billings.

The incumbent, Janna Hafer, was appointed to the seat in July after Trustee Pam Ellis resigned earlier in the year. Because Ellis’ term expired this year, Hafer is required to run to keep the seat.

Running against her is Virgil Middendorf. Like Hafer, Middendorf had applied for Ellis’ seat last summer when the board sought a replacement. He and Hafer were the only two applicants.

Both are now running for the seat.

“I want my children to get a good education,” Middendorf said.

He has two children in school and sees his participation on the board as a way to positively influence the instruction his kids receive.

Middendorf, an information technology officer and meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Billings, volunteers two days a week in his kids’ school. It’s a way for him to connect with those on “the front lines” of education.

“The most important thing for me is to listen to the people on the front lines,” he said. It’s vital to understanding the issues facing the district.

Middendorf lives on the east side of the Heights, near the site of the new Heights middle school, and Hafer lives downtown. Both are eager to see the district continue its improvement and want to be involved in the process.

“There’s a lot of decisions to be made right now,” Hafer said.

The eight months she has on the board give her a head start on tackling the next set of issues that lay ahead for the district, she said.

Now that the $122 million bond has passed, the district is in the midst of lining up the McKinley and Broadwater elementary schools renovation projects and designing the two new middle schools.

“I have something to contribute,” she said. “We’re not done yet.”

Hafer is a product of SD2, as are her children. She is the CFO and co-owner of High Plains Architects with her husband, Randy. High Plains specializes in rehabilitating old buildings and creating sustainable space.

Travis Kemp, who has represented Zone 1, which encompasses much of the South Side, has not filed to run for re-election. Tiva Townsend, PTA president at Ponderosa Elementary School, had filed to run, but withdrew after landing a new job.

So, currently no one is running for Zone 1. Nor are there any candidates for high school district Zone B, which covers much of the outlying areas east of Billings.

The SD2 board has two trustees who represent just the high schools; Zone B is one of those seats. Incumbent Travis Smith has not filed to run for re-election.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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