Whitefish School Board Trustee Heather Vrentas is running for a third term because, as she sees it, there’s still work to be done.
“I feel like the initiatives the district has — our vision — I’m really interested in seeing those through,” she said. “Another three years would actually bring a lot of those things to fruition, like the Muldown project, the final stages for the Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship, they’re all things I’ve been working on, so I would like to continue to be a part of that progress forward.”
Vrentas is one of four people running for the three trustee positions up for election in May.
Vrentas has lived in Whitefish for 23 years. She grew up in New York and earned a bachelor’s degree at Connecticut College. She’s married with twins in their freshmen year at Whitefish High School.
She is the general manager of Montana Coffee Traders and has previously served on the Montessori school board.
Vrentas said fixing Muldown is the No. 1 priority for the school district right now, and she supports building a new school that covers the needs that staff currently have.
The Muldown task force recently selected the $26.5 million construction of a new school while retaining parts of the current building and is passing that recommendation on to the school board next month. A bond issue would likely be put before taxpayers in October.
“It’s really a little nerve-wracking,” she said about the process of determining what to do with the aging school. “I think we’ve done a great job figuring out what our options are. I think we’ve done a really thorough job of figuring where the community is and what they might support, and I’m fully in support of building a new school. Getting that bond passed will be essential.”
While asking taxpayers to pass a mill levy for the new school is a lot, Vrentas said, it’s a necessity for Whitefish and the town will always benefit from better schools.
“It just seems like, for the community we have and knowing our enrollment and how it’s growing, to do anything less than that, as a business operator who wants people to come and work here and as a property owner, I want our schools to be the best,” she said.
Vrentas pointed to her work on the district’s professional development committee, along with Muldown and the sustainability center, as things she’s proud of contributing to during her two terms on the board.
For Whitefish schools to stay at their best, she said, the school board needs to help drive positive change and continue to look forward.
“We just always want to be continually improving. I think it’s easy, because public schools don’t change super quickly, it’s easy for years to go by and nothing has really changed,” she said. “And I think with the path we’re on now with our strategic goals, I don’t think that will happen, but you always have to be thinking in advance by several years to keep that momentum going.”
The election is on May 2, and absentee ballots are mailed out on April 12.