I am one of three candidates running for District Trustee 7 (West End between Rimrock and King Avenue) representation on the Billings School Board. In the following paragraphs I want to highlight a few of my objectives and the reasons why I have decided to run.
I graduated from Joliet High School in 1984. I enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was stationed in Virginia for four years. After completing my enlistment I moved back to Billings and enrolled in Rocky Mountain College, where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical science. My wife, our three children and I have lived in the Billings area most of our lives, except for a short period in 2000-2001 where I was employed in Indiana running a small aviation charter company. Since then, I have worked as an airline pilot flying personal business jets throughout North America for a company based in Columbus, Ohio.
The district boundaries for our schools have not been updated since 1984. The incredible growth of Billings requires the board to review and work with city planners to logically plan for transportation and reasonable boundaries to be redrawn more often than 26 years. Students are being bused all over town, while a majority of them are within walking distance of a local school. This to me seems to denigrate the idea of neighborhood schools along with the extra expense required to transport these students on buses. I feel that this issue of redistricting and transportation needs to have a much higher priority with the board and the city planners for our district’s future budgeting shortfalls.
The Gazette has been reporting that roughly 80 percent of taxpayers in our district do not have children in any of the schools. If this is the case, then the school board needs to give the community more detailed budget information for why the extra mill levies are needed, and not hide the increases behind generic statements like “wages, supplies and cost increases.” Since the large majority of taxpayers voting on these mill levies don’t have day-to-day contact with the schools, then the school board has to provide more detail as to why this extra money is required every year. I believe lack of detailed information to the public has been a large reason why mill levies have been defeated in the past.
The new members of the school board need to start operating as an executive committee planning for our school’s future. They need to start by hiring a superintendent who is a manager and quit spending so much of their time dealing with day-to-day issues. As a member of the board, I would start planning for the future of our schools by implementing my two previously stated objectives. Everyone in this community and the school board in particular need to remember what the ultimate goal is here. To provide the children of our community with a quality education in a safe and healthy environment.
Craig E. Hash is running for the school board seat now held by Malcolm Goodrich, who isn’t seeking re-election. Hash can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Other candidates for this Trustee District 7 seat are Lavonna Robinson and Connie Wardell.