Written by Devon Boen
Ron Jackson, Jaronn Boysun, and Brent Nygard are all hoping to secure a three-year position on the Wolf Point School board. The public will decide at the May 7 election.
Brent Nygard was born in Wolf Point and attended school in Brockton and Poplar. He graduated from Poplar High School and went on to attend Medicine Hat College and the Fort Peck Community College where he pursued a degree in education.
Nygard began working for his family business, R & D Oil, until it was sold. He transitioned to the Brockton School District where he worked as the activities director and the transportation and facilities supervisor. In his last year there, he also worked as the dean of students.
During his time at Brockton Schools, Nygard received training at the Montana Behavior Institute, helped coordinate impact aid construction grants and made recommendations regarding school hires and projects.
Currently, Nygard works on his family farm.
When asked why he was interested in becoming a member of the school board, Nygard talked about preparation for the future and student success.
“I would like to be part of the process to continue to build our school for students and staff. I would like to see all students educated and prepared for a useful, productive adult life. I not only want my children to succeed in the Wolf Point Schools, but I want to see all kids succeed,” Nygard said.
Nygard said, if elected, his short-term goal would be to gain a good understanding of board procedures and policies and become more familiar with the district budget.
In the long-run, Nygard wants the district to focus on finances.
“My long term goal is to make sure the Wolf Point School is financially stable now and in the future. With financial stability, our kids will continue to receive a high quality education that will help get them to the college of their choice or become a productive work force member. I would like to see quality programs that enhance the student’s experiences during their school year,” Nygard said.
He said he thought the board could build the budget in many different ways. Nygard admitted it was sometimes necessary to ask the community for financial support, but he believed the board could find other avenues to meet those monetary needs the majority of the time.
When asked why he was a qualified candidate, Nygard cited the quality of his character.
“I’m honest and fair. I believe that following policy creates fairness and stability. If a policy isn’t working, I think it is a board members job to change it and make it right. I like to listen to people and work through conflict in a peaceful manner. The board members are there to represent the community and make the best choices for the greatest good,” Nygard said.
Ron Jackson grew up in Gary, Ind., Wolf Point and Oswego. He graduated from Wolf Point High School and went on to start a 26-year-long career in law enforcement. He has worked for the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department, the Fort Peck Tribes and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
He began his career in education in 1995 when he joined the Indian Education Committee. Soon after, he joined the Wolf Point School board. He was voted off the board for one year, but came back and ultimately served for 15 years.
Jackson said he was interested in education because it was the most important thing in a person’s life and, without it, an individual would have trouble getting a good job or achieving their goals.
If elected to the board, Jackson said he specifically wanted to focus on getting Native American students more interested in school and encouraging drop-outs to enroll once again. Jackson said making those students feel more welcome in their own educational community was essential.
He also wants to bring more Native American teachers to the Wolf Point School District.
When asked how he planned to accomplish his goals, Jackson was realistic. He conceded he was only one person and he would do the best he could by talking to the other board members, sharing his perspective, and finding agreeable solutions.
Jackson is no stranger to conflict. He said his previous time on the board has prepared him to handle opposing viewpoints or controversial decisions. He dealt with angry community members during the transition to the four-day school week and helped turn a tumultuous situation with the tribal executive board members into a productive discussion.
Jackson said the biggest problem currently facing the school board was the budget and it was something that needed to be addressed.
The former school board member said he hoped the people would vote for him because he was running for the right reasons. He didn’t have personal goals in mind, but rather the improvement of the school district.
Jarron Boysun was born and raised in Wolf Point and graduated from Wolf Point High School in 1993. He went on to attend college in Williston and at Montana State University before working for the Montana Department of Transportation as a material lab supervisor.
Boysun was appointed to the Wolf Point School Board in January after board member Sonny Douglas retired. Boysun had no previous school board experience, but said he was interested in the position because he wanted to learn more about the educational system and saw it as a trial run since his post would be up for election in May.
He said he viewed the five months on the board as a test to see how well he liked it and how well it liked him. Boysun also said he wanted to be involved in the school district while his two kids were in the system.
His time on the board since January has been a learning experience. Boysun said he has been working to understand the ins and outs of the budget and state laws that affect the school board’s decisions.
He was immediately a part of major decisions including the superintendent search. He said it was an interesting process. He believes the new superintendent could help improve the public’s perception of the school board and create a better relationship between it and the community.
He said the school board has made major improvements and he hopes that can be communicated through the board and the superintendent.
Another goal he wants to focus on if elected is financial stability.
“With financial stability you can do a lot of things,” Boysun said. “I enjoy extra-curricular activities just as much as anybody else, but the focus needs to be on the academic side of things. That’s where most of our money should be focused.”