The two Bozeman School Board trustees elected Tuesday are looking forward to their next three years on the board, and aim to keep children in the center of discussions and tackle large issues like the rising cost of living.
In interviews Wednesday, incumbent Tanya Reinhardt and newcomer Lauren Dee, who both received around 35% of the ballots cast in Tuesday’s election, said they were thankful to the voters and looked forward to getting to work for the schools.
“I was so appreciative of everyone who voted in this election,” Reinhardt said. “The community clearly voted for public education.”
Dee said she was refreshing her phone Tuesday evening until the results came in and then celebrated with her family. She said her children were instrumental in her running.
“I’m very honored that our community voted as they did and have entrusted me with this position in serving the community,” Dee said. “It’s a great privilege.”
Reinhardt and Dee were both endorsed by the district’s teachers union Bozeman Education Association.
“I have always been very dedicated to education and students, and that goes back to when I was teaching and volunteering,” Dee said, adding that she would be a bridge between the community and board.
Dee, who has three young children in the district, said she would be an advocate for students, parents and staff.
“I hope that everybody knows that I am an approachable person who wants to hear all sides,” Dee said. “I will keep the kids in the center of the room.”
This will be the third term for Reinhardt, who was first elected to the board six years ago. Moving forward, Reinhardt said she was hoping to serve in a leadership position on the board and share her experience.
“That will depend on the will of the board and if it’s not in that position, I truly look forward to mentoring our new trustee. We want every board member to feel confident in the roles and responsibilities of a trustee.”
Reinhardt and Dee will be sworn in on May 16, where the board leadership will also be restructured.
Dee is already jumping into her new role as a board member, with plans to participate in a couple of introductory classes and workshops for school board members.
“Right now, I’m asking a lot of questions,” Dee said, adding it was good that new trustees start in the spring when it’s typically slower so they can hit the ground running in the fall.
“I like the idea that we have the summer to get our bearings and get our feet under us,” she said.
Bozeman voters also approved three high school district levies: a general fund levy of $325,000 per year, a six-year building reserve fund levy of $1.5 million per year and a 10-year technology fund levy of one mill per year, or around $275,000 this year.
“We have such an informed populace and a historical trend of supporting (the levies),” Reinhardt said.
Reinhardt said the board was looking at continuing conversations on the impact of the cost of living in Bozeman on teachers, families and taxpayers.
“We’re starting to look at ways we might minimize that impact if at all possible,” she said. “Possibly legislative spending solutions so it doesn’t all come back on the back of taxpayers.”