Two contested and three uncontested races for seats on South Routt’s school board
Oak Creek — Despite being the only Routt County school board to still use candidate districts and despite being the board with the most seats — seven — the South Routt board of education hasn’t struggled to attract candidates this year.
Five candidates are vying to fill open positions in board districts 4 and 5, while three candidates are running unopposed to fill open seats for districts 2, 6 and 7.
Incumbent Jules Palyo, who owns a metal fabrication business, has served on the board for four years and as board president for the past three.
Palyo said he feels the board has made progress over the past four years but has important work to continue on issues facing the district.
“There’s been a lot of things that have been started, and I want to see them through,” Palyo said.
Palyo specifically mentioned the recent opening of the district-run preschool, one of the initiatives to help address declining enrollment.
A corporate purchasing manager for Peabody Energy, candidate David Long has lived in South Routt for 45 years. Long, his wife and his three children are all graduates of Soroco High School, and Long has been a member of South Routt’s Vocational Agriculture Program Advisory Board for 25 years.
Long said he thinks current board members could be more outspoken on issues facing the district.
“I think some of the board members need to be more involved and more outspoken than they currently are,” Long said.
Incumbent Kristi Schalnus was appointed to fill a vacant board seat in January 2014. Schalnus owns and operates a family cattle ranch, the Schalnus Ranch, in South Routt and works for the United States Postal Service in its Toponas office.
She has three children, including a preschooler and a freshman and senior at Soroco High School.
Schalnus said that, because of her children, she has a vested interest in how the district operates.
She added she’s spent a lot of time and energy getting up to speed with how the board operates, which amounted to a steep learning curve.
“I’m just getting warmed up,” she said.
The parent of a district second grader and a future kindergartner, Kelsi Edwards said she thinks the district “used to be better” and would like to see things improve again.
“I just have a vested interest with having kids in the school and would love to see more positive change and positive outcomes,” said Edwards, who is the owner of a salon in Yampa.
The former director of maintenance and operations for the South Routt School District, Ronald “Rod” Olinger now works in lumber sales at ProBuild in Steamboat. He is also involved in coaching 4-H.
Olinger said his priorities for the school board would be to focus on providing safe, high-quality schools while being fiscally responsible.
“If elected, I will fight to protect what makes Soroco a wonderful and special place to raise a family,” Olinger said in a candidate statement.
Incumbent Jane Colby, a consultant in the energy field, was appointed to the board in 2013 and is running unopposed.
Colby said she is looking forward to continuing to serve on the board.
“It takes a little bit of time to get up to speed and understand how the board works and the school district works, so I feel like I’m just getting started,” Colby said. “I’m really pleased with the direction the district is going, and I’d really like to stay on just to continue and see that through.”
Four-year South Routt resident Sean Veilleux, a pharmacy manager at Wal-Mart in Avon, is running unopposed to fill the seat of Tim Corrigan, who is not seeking re-election.
Veilleux is the father of seven children in the district, ranging from a fourth grader to a high school senior.
His children were the primary reason Veilleux decided to run for the board.
“I think that I can bring another perspective to the conversation that speaks to what is going on in other families,” he said.
Incumbent Brett Mason is the manager of security and parking at the Steamboat Ski Area and was appointed to the board in 2010. Mason, who is running unopposed, said he is eager to continue serving on the board.
“I feel like we’re on the verge of some real positive steps, and I want to stick it out and see those through,” Mason said.
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