Five candidates are running for three positions on the Stevensville School Board: Billy Donaldson, Stephanie Esch, Tony Hudson, Kris McKoy and Frances ‘Frannie’ Schmitz. Ballots have been mailed out to voters and are due back by May 3rd. The five candidates were asked to submit a short biography along with their responses to the following questions. Four of the five responded and here’s what they submitted.
Why are you running?
What do you think are the major issues facing the school district?
Why are you the best candidate?
After graduating from Corvallis High School I joined the Air Force as a Communications Computer Systems Analyst. After receiving an honorable discharge, I spent some time in the automotive industry, managing different businesses and attending college. In 2002 I was called into full time ministry and pastored in various churches until 2020. Currently I am a Supervisor at a bank in mortgage services. My wife and I have been married for 20 years and we have three amazing girls, Amy, Sammie and Jordan.
I am running for school trustee simply out of a desire to serve. I have no particular agenda or axe to grind, I just want to offer whatever skills, experience and time I have to help make the Stevensville School District the best it can be.
Some specific challenges that I see are the lack of sufficient finances and an overall lack of passion and enthusiasm in and for the school. I remember a time when the school was the hub of the community and people would talk about and get behind the school and its activities whether they had kids there or not. I think it would be cool to see that again!
I don’t claim to be the best candidate as I know several of the other candidates personally and they are all good people who will do a good job. If I am elected I will do my best to serve the students and staff of the Stevensville School District as well as the community who elected me.
I am a mother of three children who attend Stevensville Scholls. I have lived and worked in the Stevensville community for 14 years as a Ranch Manager. I have a Bachelor of Social Work accompanied by work experience in the field. I have a solid history of volunteerism in the Stevensville Schools. I have served as president of the Parent Teacher Club where I collaboratively managed the funds, we raised and organized volunteers to support activities at the school. I have had the honor of serving on the Stevensville School Board of Trustees since May of 2021.
I believe in the importance of public school. Our school sets the foundation for our community’s kids to develop their full potential. How well the school is run determines the quality of education we provide our children and the building blocks they have moving forward. The obligation to ensure quality is paramount.
We are one of the largest employers in the community. We have a responsibility to bolster the incredible work our staff does every day.
Our school is a vital hub of our community. The overall health of the school influences the tone of the town. We have unique opportunities to communicate and partner with the community.
It is my drive to see that our school is well run and my desire to serve that prompted me to run for school board initially, and for this second term.
There will never be a shortage of challenges facing our district and public school in general. Our job is to focus on management to keep the challenges as guided as possible and maintain a healthy climate.
Finances and spending are and will be a critical challenge to manage. It is important to establish strategies for meeting our goals so that spending reflects our specific path forward and supports our staff in providing the best education for our students.
This is also a critical time to focus on lifting our students and staff out of the extra struggles all have experienced during the past two years. It is important to recognize the extra work, hours and innovations that all of our staff have implemented when they were called to do so.
We must also recognize deficits that our students have experienced during this time and build out programs to catch them up.
I believe I have been a helpful member of The Board of Trustees. I have worked hard to learn the complexities of running a public school. I read policies and engage in school board trainings. I believe that my work ethic, history and desire to serve the school community set a strong foundation for being a knowledgeable member of The Board. I find the work interesting and important, and I make it a point to do my research. If elected to a second term, I will continue my dedication to Stevensville Public School’s continued stride to greatness.
I am a 63-year-old third generation Montanan, self-employed rancher and contractor who moved to Stevensville in 1974. Some of my concerns regarding schools are undermining of parents, robbing children of their self-esteem, lack of emphasis on work ethic and fiscal responsibility. The relationship between school and parents is near the top of the list. There are no quick fixes or silver bullets to resolve those issues. I believe these issues will only be resolved through respectful, sincere dialogue. I also believe that I can engage parents and the public to support necessary change. When asked the question why should you vote for me, I can only tell you if you want a school that has absolute academic excellence, if you want a school that’s financially responsible and truly cares more about payment to teachers than administration, a school that absolutely respects, and is respectful of the rights of parents, I have the wisdom, and ability, and with your support I can accomplish this. You should vote for Tony Hudson.
Frances ‘Frannie’ Schmitz
My husband, Keith Schmitz, and I have six children between us, five of whom have graduated from Stevensville High School. Our youngest son is a freshman and excited to graduate as a Yellowjacket as well. We love the Bitterroot Valley and love the town of Stevensville. As a community volunteer I have held board positions with the Stevensville Youth Soccer Association and North Valley Public Library Foundation. Currently I serve as Treasurer for the Stevensville Booster Club and was President for four years prior. One of my personal goals over the last four to five years has been to attend as many school board meetings as possible and I am happy to say I have missed very few.
Since I do attend so many board meetings, I decided last year to run for trustee and was unable to secure a win. When elections came up this year and not all the current board members were running, I decided to run once again. I feel like my attendance at board meetings has helped me understand some things better than I previously did and would love to learn more by serving as a trustee.
Our school district has worked very hard to address space and safety issues, but we still have work to do in other areas. One of those areas is teacher pay. With teacher shortages throughout our nation, we have to make sure we are offering a competitive wage to not only recruit teachers but to keep the good teachers we currently have. In addition, we have to make sure we are consistently growing class experiences with our students’ growth. Technology is a perfect example of this. We have to ensure that coding classes our students are being taught in Middle School cover over to the High School and right now that is not happening.
Many times, as I attend a school board meeting, I am the only member of the community in attendance and this month there were less than five people on the video feed. Please help me work towards making my voice heard as a board member and not just a community member. Most of all, do research on the candidates and vote. I will not be perfect but I promise to do my best for the Stevensville School District if elected.