The people of Helena have spoken—and have chosen reason over raw emotion and experience over anger, retaining Aidan Myhre and Cherche Prezeau for three year terms and electing Libbi Lovshin for a two year term to replace Trevor Wilkerson.
With over 90% of ballots in, these are the results:
Trustee Election: 3 Year Term
Aidan Myhre: 4144
Cherche Prezeau: 3879
Brittany Renshaw: 2569
Barbara Rush: 2844
Trustee Election: 2 Year Term
Libbi Lovshin: 3963
Jeanne Sticht Jr.: 3004
Elementary School District Operational Levy
High School District Operation Levy
The relatively close results show that this is a community still deeply divided over the adoption of the health curriculum, and that all parties have work to do to heal the divide. The School District does need to work on its process for meetings and curriculum development—and if serious introspection in that area hasn’t happened already, it needs to begin, with broad involvement. The Board needs to continue to be sensitive to the perspective of people opposed to their vision for the schools and work towards more inclusion from the public. Finally, though, those who ran against the School District and Board also have a responsibility: if they are truly interested in improving the schools, they need to realize that vitriol and fear mongering are not part of sensible policymaking nor conducive to consensus.
I hope, but I can’t say that I’m optimistic, that in the aftermath of this election, we’ll start to see more dialogue and fewer disputes that degenerate into such naked hostility.
The results also show that this is a community that believes in its schools and effective, reason-based oversight. The fact that both levies passed is a wonderful sign of the community’s faith in the promise of its students.
Helena should be proud of its schools and realize that there are significant issues we need to continue to work on, from student engagement to graduation rates. The way forward is for a whole community to discuss what we can do for our students and what we can expect from them. Let’s hope all sides—winner and losers—can remember that.
Update: It would appear at least one person won’t be able to see it that way:
This is the second defeat for Rush who unsuccessfully ran last year, but says she is proud that she helped get a conversation going in the schools.“I’m disappointed for Helena,” she said Tuesday night. “It’s a machine that’s able to get the vote out. I think more people will be pulling their kids out of school.”