Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

Kolczak seeks to continue as County Supt.


Mark Hebert

Phillips County Superintendent of Schools Darlene Kolczak

Darlene Kolczak retired from teaching in Phillips County four years ago and she took over the county superintendent of schools position when Vivian Taylor left the position during her 14th year of service. Kolczak has no competition in the June 5 Primary Election and will continue in the position of superintendent. As she will continue to represent the people of Phillips County, The Phillips County News asked Kolczak to fill out our 2018 Candidate Q&A which follows below.

Tell us about yourself

I was born and raised in Butte, Mont. I was raised with five brothers in which I was child number four, right in the middle of those boys. I graduated from Butte High School in 1976 and then went to school at MSU Bozeman. I graduated with a Home Economics Degree (now known as Family and Consumer Science) in early childhood education and an elementary teaching degree in 1980. I started my career in Dodson teaching kindergarten and first grade for eight years. It was during that time that I met my husband Francis Kolczak, settled on the family ranch in Landusky, and we have two children Kellie and Steven. I stayed home with my children for about 10 years and substitute taught around the county. When we brought our children to town to go to school, I started teaching at Malta Public Schools and I had various teaching assignments.

My daughter Kellie is married to Jerek Depuydt and they have two children Jaxson and Jordan.

Kellie is a Nurse Practitioner at St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings and Jerek is a Metallurgical Engineer at Stillwater Mining. My son Steven and wife Catie live in Billings. Steven is a plumber with Precision Plumbing and Catie is a behavioral specialist at Lockwood School and is also in graduate school.

What is your motivation for running for office?

I retired from Malta High School four years ago and was doing a lot of substitute teaching when the county ran an ad in the paper to fill out the rest of a two-year term for County Superintendent of Schools. I had always liked politics, was active on many boards and clubs and held many offices on those boards and clubs, so I felt like this would be a good fit for me. I also had a current teaching certificate. It was a part-time position, and I felt like I had the knowledge to do the job. I applied and was lucky enough to be hired; I really like all of the challenges that the job has to offer. I have learned a lot, but feel like I still have a lot to learn. I have decided to run for the office. There are lots of challenges and many new things to learn, and trying to figure all of the challenges out is an exciting working environment.

What issues concern you in the position you are running for?

I guess the biggest issues facing my position are: 1. Lack of school funding and teacher's salaries. Probably the most important thing we do in society is educating our children, but because of funding and low pay, it is very hard to get and keep teachers. 2. The superintendents of each of the schools need some help with the ever-changing laws and policies. I can help them with those issues. 3. Transportation issues, with the schools, can present many challenges.

What skills or attributes make you a good candidate for the position?

I am a very conscientious person and a good listener. I strive to find answers for the districts to help them with their problems. I feel like I am a friendly person, who is very easy to talk to. I love to learn new things and with this job, there is always a lot to learn. I have been very active in Phillips County, and I am well known and trustworthy.


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