Melisa Kaschmitter of Grangeville is the lone candidate for the Mountain View School District 244 trustee position in zone 1. Lot Smith, who is the current zone 1 representative, chose not to file for candidacy. Since Kaschmitter is the only candidate, an election for zone 1 will not be held and she is automatically the new trustee.
Kaschmitter lived in Idaho County until she was 17, moved to Montana, then came back to the area 16 years ago.
Kaschmitter attended public school in both Kamiah and Grangeville. She graduated from Flathead Valley Community College in 1999 with an AAS in accounting and took classes for an additional year focusing on business management, web design and marketing.
When she moved back to Idaho, she worked for the Idaho Department of Labor for seven years where her duties included working with youth and adults to increase their education and work opportunities. While at IDoL, she became a certified global career development facilitator, and was also a disability program navigator for three years.
She then went to work for the Ida-Lew Economic Development Council for five years. During that time, she worked on a variety of many community projects and coordinated community groups with the goal of helping local businesses to grow and increasing business opportunities.
She now works for Gem Chain Bar and created their nationally accredited Journeyman CNC Operator Milling and Turning Apprenticeship Program. She is currently the operations manager for Gem, responsible for international exports, global sales and marketing, major account management, marketing, human resources, quality control management, production and inventory management and training program coordination.
“As a parent, my children and I have discussed school issues they are facing or that the community is facing. I want to model what I tell my children: ‘If you feel like there needs to be positive change – be a working part of that change, don’t sit on the sidelines and complain,’” she said. “There have been many issues within the school district that have bothered me, but the situation with Mike Johnson’s teaching contract initially not being renewed was a startling wake-up call: it made me want to take a larger role in being part of positive change.”
Kaschmitter believes the biggest challenges facing MVSD are funding, performance and growing public distrust.
“Without adequate funding, the school district must make difficult choices in regards to curriculum, teaching staff, support staff, classes offered, class sizes and other important factors that impact our students’ success,” she stated.
Kaschmitter advocates aligning spending with increasing the basic educational proficiency of students.
“As a school board trustee, I would focus my decisions on making the best of the taxpayer funded resources given to operate our schools like a business focused on providing the highest quality education for our students; that will in turn create a better community and a better future for all stakeholders,” stated Kaschmitter.
She also said the district should strive for providing educational opportunities that prepare its students for direct employment after school, college, trade schools, certificate programs, on-the-job training, apprenticeship programs and other post-secondary opportunities.
“I believe that giving students necessary variety, especially in middle and high school education, will increase the number of students completing school and graduating,” she added.
Kaschmitter encouraged the rebuilding of trust with the school board, district and community.
“If our community doesn’t support our schools, we will not have good schools that support our community,” she said.
Additional areas of concern include better communication throughout the district and its consumers (the parents and students) and creating career pathways in the schools that encourage youth to remain or return to our community, as well as supporting new employees, existing support staff and teachers in their efforts to advance their careers within the school district.
Between her children by birth and by marriage, Kaschmitter and her husband, Andy, have five children and three grandchildren attending school in the district. Their five older children are all GHS graduates.