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Charlo School Board: Five vie for openings

by BERL TISKUS
Reporter | April 25, 2024 12:00 AM

Five candidates have filed for the two three-year trustee positions open in Charlo School District 7J, according to District Clerk Sara Vaughan. Incumbent Jodie Buxbaum, Kristin Marcure Bauer, Tina Forester, Matt Hout and Branden Jenson have filed for the seats.

Incumbent TJ Marmon is the only candidate who has filed to represent high school students from Dixon who attend Charlo, and his post will be approved by acclamation. 

The following three candidates responded to our email questionnaire: 

Jodie Johnson Buxbaum

Incumbent Buxbaum is a Charlo graduate, whose family homesteaded in the Charlo area in 1910. Her grandfather was in the first graduating class from Charlo, and also drove the district’s first school bus. Her father also graduated from Charlo, and Buxbaum now has two daughters who attend Charlo Schools. 

“My small family has strong roots here,” she says. “We all believe in Charlo Schools and the quality of education it gives its students.”

Although it’s a small, rural school, Buxbaum says the district “has placed itself on the map academically, athletically and in many other extracurricular activities.” 

She lists the district’s three strongest attributes as “great teachers, great staff and a great community.”

Buxbaum has served eight years as a trustee, and believes her experience makes her a strong candidate for one of the two open positions. “It takes time to understand the regulations, laws, policies, and budget that all challenge a small school,” she says. 

If reelected, her goals include keeping Charlo Schools financially viable through a difficult economy, maintaining great teachers and staff, repairing and upgrading facilities, and maintaining a safe environment for students and employees. 

“I am committed to keeping Charlo an outstanding school that continues to excel in all areas,” she adds.

Tina Firestone

Firestone describes herself as a longtime Charlo resident. Although she has no children attending the local district, she writes, “I strongly believe that an active and engaged community member can bring valuable perspectives and contribute to the betterment of our schools.”

She believes community members “all have a stake in the success of our schools, regardless of whether we have children attending them.”

Firestone decided to run for school board to help ensure that district students “have access to a high-quality education and opportunities for growth and development.

Living in Charlo, she’s witnessed “the critical role that education plays in the shaping of our future. I firmly believe that a strong and vibrant school system is not only essential for the academic success of our children but also for the overall well-being and prosperity of our community as a whole.”

If elected, she promises to “bring to the table a fresh perspective and a willingness to work with parents, teachers, administrators, and other community members to address the challenges facing schools and our educational system.” 

“I believe that an active and engaged community can make a positive difference in the lives of our children and the future of our community.”

Brandon Jenson

If elected, Jensen promises to bring “a vast ability of negotiation, problem solving and financial literacy to the table that I believe will help the current board immensely.” 

He promises to serve local children by “standing up for their future no matter the cost.” He says he’s willing to have tough conversations with other school board members, teachers and community members, and is committed to putting conversations “into action and getting the very best outcome possible for the given situation.”

“This really can't be done by one person,” he writes. “It takes a diversified group of people willing to work together to better the future of our children.”

Jenson perceives the biggest issue facing school districts as stemming from the $30 trillion national debt and an inflation rate “that is not slowing down for anyone to catch their breath.” 

Additional taxation isn’t the answer, he says. 

Instead, Jenson believes “a well-balanced budget and financially aware/responsible board is the only way we can resolve this issue and possibly leave a better tomorrow for our children.”

Kristen Marcure Bauer and Matt Hout did not return information by press time.

    Tina Firestone, Charlo