Sari Montgomery for District 109 School Board

As part of our District 109 school board election resource, Sari Montgomery introduces herself and discusses her priorities.

Highlights from this article

First and foremost we're still navigating challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. And those challenges will be with us for some time to come. Even after everything, every, all the kids are back in school full time. And we start to see less and less of the everyday pandemic around us, we'll still need to work on closing the gaps academically and socially, emotionally that have occurred as a result of our students being out of the classroom for such a prolonged period of time. So there's a lot of work that needs to be done to identify those gaps and to devise ways to close them. That process is the pandemic planning process is something that I've been intimately involved in since the summer, as a member of the task force and also working on nearly daily basis with the administration. So I'm very well versed in in where we've been, where we are and and well positioned to where we need to go.

I'd also like to talk about communication, which has been a big issue, and it's always frankly, a big issue in our district. Since I had been on the board we have had some communication successes and some some areas of improvement, but going forward, several things that I would like to see happen. Obviously we're now broadcasting our meetings, which was a big initiative of mine before the pandemic hit. But obviously now that is reality we just need to make it more user-friendly so that when we are back in person, people can easily access the meetings. We were actually on the verge of implementing that right before the pandemic hit. So I, I expect that once we get back to a more normal operations, we will invest in that equipment so that we can broadcast our board meetings more easily. I'd also like to do more town halls so that we can more easily interact with the public because our board meetings are not conducive to that. That's not what they're meant for. But we would like, we always welcome the opportunity to communicate with our stakeholders in that way. As well as whenever we develop new initiatives involving stakeholder feedback is really important we have done that in the past and I would always, will always advocate for stakeholder feedback in all future programming decisions. And as has always, I am available to meet with people one-on-one if they have questions or if they have concerns that they'd like to talk about the district. http://www.solvecas...

The third thing that I would like to talk about is fiscal responsibility. It's really no one really likes to talk about money, but if you don't have, if you're not the fiscally responsible and you don't have the funds to provide the educational opportunities that we all want for our kids and our community. And since I've been on the board we've been able to do over $40 million in capital improvements without going to a referendum. In fact, we actually have abated over four and a half million dollars in taxes back to the taxpayers bias. Paying our debt service out of our operating funds. We've had balanced budgets for the last, over the last 15 years since the last referendum in 2005. So I'm really proud of that. And I think that we have done a good job in managing the tax payer dollars that we're responsible for keeping in mind that 70% of the taxpayers in our district don't have children in the school. So it's really a big responsibility that we're entrusted with in managing a $55 million a year budget of taxpayer dollars. So it's a big responsibility. I've chaired the finance committee for four years. So I'm very well versed in the tax levy, the budget, the audit by your projections. All of those things are real. It's really important for board members to keep abreast of, and I make it a priority to do that so that we can continue to provide the best possible educational opportunities to our kids.

And the last thing that I would like to talk about is transitioning to a new superintendent. We're all really excited that Mike Simic is going to be joining us. He's actually joining us soon on April 1st. But it's a big job to come into a new school district where you're, you don't know the staff and you don't know the families and you don't know the students. So Mike is an amazing superintendent. He has a lot of experience. And we're very confident that he's going to do a great job, but in order to support him in that endeavor, it's really important to have some stability on the board and to have experienced board members who can provide that. Support for him while he's getting his bearings in the first year or so in this election cycle, we, for sure we know we are going to have at least two new board members, which is great, and I'm really excited about that. But it's also good to have a balance of stability as well, so that the superintendent kind of knows what to expect and the board knows what to expect and there aren't any surprises and he can go about transitioning without having to worry about, board dynamics and things like that.

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