Sarah Swanson Eyes a School Board Seat
May 2, 2018
Glasgow native and former Farm Equipment Sales General Manager Sarah Swanson has decided to run for the Glasgow School District Board of Trustees. Currently, she is amongst four vying for two vacant positions on the board.
Swanson has a long history in Valley County, having been born and raised in the region. In 1964, her grandfather left the family farm and founded the John Deere dealership Farm Equipment Sales, before leaving it to Swanson’s father. Swanson took on a role at the dealership in 2006 where she oversaw the expansion of the store to four separate locations across northeast Montana. In 2011, she took on the role of general manager and ran the corporation until it was sold this past year.
Swanson has served in many capacities to improve the region. She served as President of the Montana Equipment Dealers Association and on the Montana Retailer Association for the Montana Chamber of Commerce. She believes that in order for northeast Montana to be represented in Helena the people need to travel to meet with decision makers.
“We don’t have easy access to decision makers,” said Swanson describing her experiences with negotiation and lobbying decision makers in Helena and other locations, ”I had the opportunity to be in those rooms.”
With regards to the school district, Swanson is of the mind that college preparation is great in Glasgow, but that vocational skills may be lacking. “We are very good at preparing kids for college but we need to promote career tracks for vocational jobs.”
Swanson explained her experience in facilitating other school programs focused on hands-on education such as the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program that Farm Equipment Sales helped get off the ground by working with Jim Stone and the schools. Swanson boasted that within a year, the program had received over $90,000 towards that particular educational program. “It really revolutionized education in Glasgow,” commented Swanson.
Swanson believes more of this kind of programming and funding is available for Glasgow youth. Another program she supports as a vocational model is the Pro-start culinary program. Students enter a two-year track program that gives them the basic skills to work in the restaurant industry. Swanson said that Glasgow High School became the first class B school in the state to have the pro-start program, which has taken off to a level across the state that includes a yearly culinary competition.
Swanson also believes that more programs for leadership and character development are in order. “I think one of the best programs to deliver leadership skills would be FFA (Future Farmers of America),” explained Swanson, before adding that despite the agricultural roots of the community, Glasgow does not have a chapter. “GHS needs an ag program. With my skills and connections to FFA, I could help with expanding those programs.”
Swanson pointed out that her role on the board would be to work with others in Glasgow to make the board serve the broad members of the community. “The role of a board member is to listen to the stakeholders; parents, teachers, community members and business owners. I think we need to reconnect the business community with the school to connect kids with jobs we need to fill locally,” said Swanson.
With regards to the school levy being proposed to raise teacher salaries Swanson said, “We need to be actively recruiting the best teachers and then supporting them so once we get them we can keep them.” Still she was sympathetic to those who felt the last school levy to build Irle Elementary may have been mismanaged, “I share those concerns,” said Swanson talking about frustrations with the taxation and the processes involved.
The Glasgow Courier reached out to the other candidates vying for a position on the school board, Michael Kaiser, Tyrel Brandt and Ryan Fast.