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St. Ignatius claims School Board of the Year award

by CAROLYN HIDY
Lake County Leader | October 21, 2020 1:00 PM

The St. Ignatius School District No. 28 School Board recently was recognized as “2020 School Board of the Year” by School Administrators of Montana.

Superintendent Jason Sargent nominated the board for the prestigious award.

“The school board is well organized and willing to take on big issues with dignity, respect and responsibility,” Sargent said in a released statement. “The school board has overcome great obstacles with positive core values and dignity.”

The citation said the board “ran a bond, and after three attempts got it passed for a new career and technical education facility, gym, locker rooms and event bathrooms. (They) drove finding a way to replace the old district office with two new elementary classrooms,” and “continue to do what is right for kids with a focus and sacrifice for the very best with very little.”

Board chair Peter Matt attended St. Ignatius schools and has served on the board for 12 years. He and the other board members have kids in the school now. He credits a “continuity” of vision that has kept the team working effectively together toward long term goals, and hopes that continues into the future.

“We’ve always had a group of people (on the board) that are bearing responsibility to provide the best opportunities for our students and our community. I really appreciate that.”

Matt said the new Consumer and Family Sciences facility and automotive shop is an example of “opportunities we didn’t have before. Society needs these types of skills. Mechanics, chefs, builders are all highly sought after in the workforce.” He said they have been able to bring in highly qualified teachers and other employees to help achieve these long-term goals. And in the era of COVID, a lot of effort has gone into keeping everyone safe.

“We have to make the school the best centerpiece of our community that we can so people are proud of it and people will notice, so it will continue to attract students and quality employees, and it can even encourage parents to say, ‘I like what they have to offer,’ and move here and raise their kids.”

“The nomination for this board is for the countless hours of planning great systems, facilities, transportation, extra-curricular, negotiations, calendar and professional training to the St. Ignatius School District,” Sargent said. “This is a well-deserved honor. They are wonderful to work for and well respected by our community and school.” He also acknowledged “the outstanding work of Adam Hawkaluk as the board clerk and Rasena Christopher as the board assistant clerk.”