School Board Candidates
They are listed in alphabetical order by first name, also you can click on the link at top of each listing for the PDF of each bio.
My name is Jami Romney FitzGerald and I moved into the Nine Mile valley 24 years ago. I grew up in Helena and graduated from Helena High school, moved to Missoula, and graduated from UM. I am married to a man who runs a small business. We have two boys, two cats, and my Golden child. My oldest child graduated from Frenchtown school last year and attends Carroll College on a track scholarship. He assures me he goes to class and is getting passing grades. My youngest child is a junior at Frenchtown school and assures me he goes to class and is getting passing grades. However, both their trucks are jam-packed with fishing rods, waders, golf clubs, backpacks, golf discs, at least one shoe for every sport, and not many books.
I have always worked with children with disabilities. I have worked for the Child Development Center, OPI as a DeafBlind consultant, Eleanore’s Project, the DeafBlind Project at UM, and now for Momentum Speech Therapy. I have worked with many schools and my kids attend Frenchtown. This is very intentional.
I have served on the Frenchtown school board for several years, the first being the year the Smurfit-Stone mill went bankrupt. This was 24% of the school district’s tax base. Since then, the Board has made changes in order to financially and academically survive. We created a strategic plan, with a variety of stakeholders, in which all decisions are made using this as a guide, and asking the question: How does this benefit students? We went to our legislator and asked for help in recouping delinquent taxes owed by the new owners, M2Green, and a new Montana law was the result. The county could place a lien on the property without accepting the toxic liability. Our second positive influence on the budget was opening enrollment to out-of-district students in good standing.
As a rural community, we realized the importance of extra-curricular activities and added a Speech team, Middle School soccer, girls Wrestling, and a Swim team for Special Olympics. We had to compete with area schools and the academy’s so the F.A.C.E. program was developed, Walk to read, Montana Digital Academy, and an increase in course offerings and opportunities. Coding, fly-tying, French, Jazz band, and several Honors, AP, and dual credit classes have been added. We had to have attractive and functional facilities. The track was resurfaced, the softball/ soccer building was built, MakerSpace and a wood floor were put in the Elementary gym. Frenchtown has consistently had one of the highest graduation rates, across all schools, in the state. We have some of the highest testing scores, across all grades, for a school our size, in the state. Pre-COVID, rarely would you not find our facilities not being used. We want to host as many events as possible - it only brings in more resources to our community. The less fun but essential projects required asking the community to support a Building Reserve levy, which will sunset this fall.
We collaborated with community groups to get the elementary bike path paved, Freedom Gardens was built on the south campus, the Frenchtown Community Coalition is housed in the high school and the school is the site for many Girl and Boy Scout projects. We have worked with the Missoula County Sheriff’s Dept. and have an SRO, who lives in our community.
However, without qualified, competent, and committed administrators and staff, nothing else matters. Approximately 84% of our school’s budget is spent on benefits and wages. We established a new evaluation tool, staff wellness program and services, and a stipend program for those wanting to pursue individual interests. We bring in out-of-state high-quality educational speakers for staff training. We employ highly educated and motivated administrators.
And finally COVID-19... We made a hard decision, for what we felt was best for students, to make Frenchtown school employees essential workers. We wanted students in school. We felt it was the safest place for children during such an uncertain time. We wanted parents to be able to work, and we wanted community businesses to be open. This community is only as strong as its school.
A School Board is fiscally and legally responsible for a school district. It is not lost on me that approximately 50% of our tax base do not have children in the school and we are cognizant of that fact. I am proud to say, this year, despite educational cuts from the state, despite Covid-19, people’s tax bills for the school decreased. We have not run a General Fund levy during my tenure. We have worked within our financial means. As a member of this Frenchtown school team, we have accomplished and made many remarkable positive changes. I want to continue for another three years, with the direction of our new Superintendent.
As a native Montanan and a resident of Missoula County for 27 years, I am proud to send my two children to school in the Frenchtown School District. As a 2021 candidate for Frenchtown School Board Trustee, I’m running not just on behalf of parents, but also for the many hardworking, tax-paying community members who may not have school-aged children, but still have a vested interest in the success of the young people who will prop up our community into the future.
I have worked for a manufacturers rep firm since 1995, giving me the opportunity to learn and grow throughout the past 26 years in the construction, HVAC/R, and plumbing industries. This knowledge will directly benefit the school district in support of our facilities and infrastructure-related strategic goals. As a trustee, I will additionally focus on several key elements of success during my tenure including transparency in decision-making and ensuring all students get the resources they need to do their best.
Transparency: I fundamentally believe our community will be made stronger by fostering an open community dialogue about the district’s challenges and opportunities. I am committed to working
through tough issues using sound judgment, an even temper, and a collaborative attitude. I pledge to ask the hard questions and explore every angle to arrive at logical and proactive solutions.
Student achievement: Parenting is hard work, but so is being a student – especially now. It is critical the district and the school board support students fully as they navigate both individual and family challenges ranging from substance use disorders and mental illness to financial instability and differences in learning style. This support is more critical now than ever as unprecedented challenges impact some students’ desires and abilities to stay up to speed in school.
As your trustee on the school board, I will bring a fresh perspective, talent, experience, and insight to the board including a deeply rooted sense of community and appreciation for the beautiful landscape we all get to call home. My husband of 19 years and our two high school Broncs spend much of our time outdoors - from the Flathead to Seeley and over to Holter and Canyon Ferry. I also love flower gardening, spending quiet evenings on the back patio among our dogs, goats, and chickens, and making new memories with friends and extended family.
I very much look forward to the opportunity to work with you to pool our knowledge, share our experiences, and use our collective influence to shape future generations in the Frenchtown Valley.
To those who I have not met, it is nice to meet you. To those that I have met and that know me, thank you for taking the time to learn more about who I am and why I want to serve as a school board trustee. For me, the desire to serve on the school board is very simple, I believe education is one of the primary pillars that supports the progress and betterment of our society and I want to help to secure that pillar and build a strong foundation, rooted in knowledge, critical thinking, understanding, creativity, a strong work ethic, exploration, democracy, and ethics. Moreover, as an individual that has been given numerous opportunities through our public education system, I want to give back and help to promote and provide our students with the best education and opportunities possible. Currently, I serve on the school board as a trustee and sit on the Policy, School Improvement/Goals, IT, Curriculum/Professional Development, and Academic Achievement committees. I am or have been involved in various athletic and academic school-based activities such as soccer, wrestling, Lego robotics, and the talented and gifted program. As a Research Forester and father of two that attend Frenchtown schools, I volunteer my time to various school-based activities and plan to continue to donate my time to present science-based topics in the classroom and chaperone various school functions. I hold a B.S. in forestry and an M.S. in forestry with a minor in statistics from Auburn University and a Ph.D. in forestry and conservation from the University of Montana. I currently work as a Research Forester for the Rocky Mountain Research Station where I study various topics such as quantitative methods within geographic information systems (GIS), the relationships between landscape patterns and forested ecosystems processes, wildfire risk and suppression, and spatially quantifying forest characteristics and the costs associated with implementing forest and wildfire management prescriptions. For those interested in more information related to myself and my research, please visit my personal website at https://sites.google.com/view/hoglandsspatialsolutions/home. In closing, I ask for your vote to serve another term as one of your school board representatives.
Sincerely. John Hogland
I was born and raised in the mountains of Southern California but now I am a true Montana girl. I moved to Missoula in December of 1980 after graduating from BYU. I taught music, 1st grade, and 3rd grade at St. Joseph Elementary from 1981 to 1989. I have been an elementary teacher in Frenchtown since the 1989-1990 school year. I retired at the end of the 2019-2020 school year after 31 years. My assignments included 2nd grade, a 1st/2nd combination, 3rd grade, a 2-3 combination, and JH Girl's VB Coach. I married my best friend, Bill, in August 1993. We have one daughter, Emily. She attended Frenchtown HS from K-12. When she graduated in 2017 we finally moved out to Frenchtown. My husband taught Business at Stevensville HS for 14 years. He just began his 33rd year as the Stevensville HS Girls and Boys tennis coach.
I decided to run for Frenchtown School Board because I think it is important to be an advocate for the students and teachers. Everyone will agree that the kids are the most important members of any school district and the teachers are the ones that are with them daily. I hope to bring that voice to the Board and have an influence in determining the future goals of our district. My time teaching in Frenchtown has been the experience of a lifetime. I enjoyed being at school everyday and made so many wonderful friends, both my co-workers and the families of my many students.
I grew up in Rock Springs, Wyoming in a family of nine children. I spent my youth eating school
lunch, going to the school playground on the weekends, and getting to know them inside of the principal’s office very well. In fact, we became such good friends that my elementary principal attended my wedding reception almost twenty years later. During junior high and high school, I participated in school-sponsored sports and clubs. These activities taught me how to get along with others and prepared me for leadership later on in life.
After graduation, I went on to receive my bachelor’s degree in biology from Utah State University and then attended dental school at the University of Maryland. Upon graduating, in 2007, my family and I moved to Frenchtown, Montana. Even though my dental practice is located in Missoula, we specifically bought a house in Frenchtown so that our young, growing family, could attend Frenchtown Schools.
We have truly come to love the Frenchtown community. The people here support one another and really step up to help each other out in times of need. I have 3 daughters that attend Frenchtown Schools in three of the four buildings. I love to attend school activities like the Bronc Stampede and Walk to School Day. I have gone to many high schools and junior high events just to cheer on kids I know from our community.
I believe that schools play a pivotal role in molding kids into upstanding members of society. During the school year, kids spend more of their waking hours with teachers and school staff than they do with their parents. Because of this, my main goal as a member of the school board will be to support kids and their teachers. I want to ensure that we provide the tools necessary for students to excel and thrive in this ever-changing world.
Hopefully, we are turning the corner on the COVID pandemic, but if there is more to come, my medical background may be valuable as we navigate the future. I am part of this community and what happens in our schools is important to me. I am excited for the opportunity to serve on the school board of such a great district. If you got to the end of this, I applaud you. Thanks for hanging in there with me.