Community. Unity. Opportunity.
In case you haven’t heard, our Board of Trustees unanimously voted to exercise its responsibility to fund our public schools via the vehicle allowed by State law: a levy election. They voted to ask our community to come together in unity to provide continued educational opportunity for our students. Thus our theme for the upcoming election campaign: Community. Unity. Opportunity.
As noted by a proponent during public comment at the Board meeting, the effort involved in getting this levy passed is going to require a “full court press” and that’s what I intend to do. I intend to do all I can to educate our community about why the levy is needed, what it is for and how much it will cost. I’m also asking you to get engaged in this effort by doing several things:
Register to vote by April 4 if you aren’t already (see related Newsbits article);
Become educated as to the details of the levy request;
Communicate the facts of the levy to your family, friends and neighbors; and
Return your ballot on or before May 8 after you receive it on April 24.
As to the second request, I will be holding an informational meeting for school staff about the levy. Look for more details about it in the near future. This will be your opportunity to learn so you can share with others. It will be your opportunity to join with your educational community, in unity, to understand the opportunity before us.
I also note that there will be two trustee positions up for vote. So far, no one has filed for either seat. If you know of a qualified citizen, please reach out to share this opportunity with him or her. The filing deadline is March 29. There will also be a City Park Levy on the ballot.
Lastly, as we embark upon the election season, I remind you that as a public employee, there are things you can and can’t do during the election season. This is a quick summary:
As a District employee, you may engage in political speech and activity, including the support or opposition of a candidate or ballot issue, as long as the political speech and/or activity does not involve the use of public time, facilities, equipment, supplies, personnel, or funds.
Providing factual information to others does not count as “support or opposition.”
With the above being said, it is prudent for District employees to remember that the public holds educators to a high level of professional responsibility, on and off the job. As per the Montana Educator Code of Ethics, educators are expected to respect diverse opinions, to protect the rights of all citizens and to play a positive role in school-community relations. District employees are encouraged to take part in the election process with care being taken to be civil and professional as we interact with others.
A GFPS belief statement says: A well-educated community is the foundation of our democracy. Thank you for all you do to support that education and for being a part of our great democracy. Look for more information about the GFPS levy orientation meeting.
Take care. Be safe. Stay well.