Q. & A. with Kristina Schalnus, South Routt School Board, District 5 candidate
South Routt School Board, District 5
Occupation: Cattle rancher and part-time postal employee
Hometown: Steamboat Springs
Years in Oak Creek/South Routt County: 15 plus
Family: married with three kids, age 4, 14 and 17
Civic involvement: School board member, FFA Alumni (Booster) member, 4-H volunteer
Q. Why are you qualified to serve on the school board?
A. I have a sincere passion and interest not only in our school but also our community. My children are in multiple levels in our district ranging from preschool age to high school. Our family has a long history here giving me a realistic background through my experiences along with a vested interested having served on the board since January 2014. I believe I have just begun to feel comfortable to make a positive impact as a board member and would like to continue my passion and efforts.
Q. What do you think is the most important issue facing the South Routt School District and what can be done to address it?
A. Consistency. Any weakness goes back to a lack of consistency. In particular, staff turnover. Staff turnover directly contributes to lack of consistency, negatively affecting the learning environment. A goal of mine, and the district, is to attract and retain first-rate qualified staff. Retention of qualified staff promotes consistency in the classroom and a healthy learning environment. Our staff here believe in our community and that unites us as a whole. We should protect that quality we have.
Q. What strategies would you suggest for the South Routt School District to address declining enrollment?
A. Again, consistency. We need a consistent staff and to invest in high quality educators that want to be here long term. It seems very simplistic to me. Let’s go back to basics. Our students need to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. We can have great programs that support core classes, but without the strong basics, our extra programs will not attract students. I think we are sometimes too focused on the kids not enrolled in our district rather than the kids that are. We have a number of students who choose to attend our school district who do not reside here. We are extremely fortunate to have a number of award-winning teachers helping the success of our students. The difficulty is doing so, while being fiscally responsible. We need to make sure that every dollar spent is for the student success.
Q. Would you support the South Routt School District pursuing district consolidation with Steamboat Springs? Why or why not?
A. I can see how people would easily be convinced that consolidation would be the answer to everything. However, I do not support the idea. I recently spent some time with community members who experienced our last consolidation between Yampa and Oak Creek in 1961. It brought a huge controversy, and in the end, saved no money. Now one could argue the consolidation worked out in the end for several reasons. Socialization is one example. Overall, I feel the positives of not consolidating outweigh the negatives of doing so. I do not wish to sacrifice our local control by consolidation with any surrounding district. We may be small but we are strong. We are a unique district, and I believe we should stay that way.
Q. What role do you think the South Routt School District and/or school board plays or should play in the overall South Routt community?
A. The school should be the “hub” of our community. As such, I believe the school board helps bond the community and our school together through successful programs, clubs and events. We should recognize that education does not always take place in the classroom or from the school. We should embrace partner educational organizations. A successful community results in successful kids. At any sporting event you are guaranteed to see community members attend that do not have kids in school. We are united. Our children are the future of our community. I believe as a community we should be proud of our past, present and future, and as such, recognize Soroco is a unique and diverse school that is significantly different than our neighbors. We should celebrate that.
I was born and raised south of Steamboat Springs on our family cattle ranch now six generations strong. My husband and I continue the tradition of his family cattle ranch in Yampa. I moved to South Routt County over 15 years ago to provide a good learning environment for my kids. I knew Soroco offered a superior agriculture program that would surely benefit our needs along with small class size. With three kids throughout the school system, I have a very vested interest in the direction the school district is headed in the future years. As a parent and community member, I feel very strongly about values and traditions not only within my family but also within our schools and community. A position on the school board allows me the opportunity to positively affect the quality of education that my children, and all South Routt students, receive.
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