Sunday, December 03, 2023

Meet the trustee candidates running in Kalispell Public Schools

Daily Inter Lake | April 16, 2023 12:00 AM

The Daily Inter Lake reached out to school board trustee candidates in contested elections. The information below was provided by candidates for Kalispell Public School District 5 and edited for spelling, punctuation and space.

Kalispell Public Schools has two openings for three-year terms representing the elementary district. Candidates are: Incumbent Scott Warnell, Patrick Clavin, Jinnifer Mariman, Shaun Pandina and Jesse Schulz.

There is one opening in the high school district for a three-year term representing Marion, Olney-Bissell, Pleasant Valley, Smith Valley and West Valley schools. Candidates for this position are incumbent Will Hiatt and Krista Buls.

Scott Warnell (incumbent)

Occupation: Current outreach and engagement specialist for Fletcher Group, Inc; retired as a police officer from Kalispell Police Department in 2016.

Family: Wife Jana; sons Carter and Max.

Education: Bachelor of Science in sports medicine from Montana State University.

Background: I have been a varsity girls soccer coach at Flathead High School; president of Flathead CARE; school resource officer; board member and president of Flathead Soccer Club; and a soccer referee for all ages and levels.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee?: I care about School District 5 and Kalispell. I came to Kalispell in 1994 to work as a police officer. My wife had been born and raised in Kalispell and we knew we wanted to raise a family here. We were blessed with two sons. They attended Peterson Elementary, Kalispell Middle School and Flathead High. They enjoyed their time in school and left feeling prepared for whatever they chose to do next. I want to help other students and families to have the positive experiences my family has had with School District 5.

Patrick Clavin

Occupation: Construction worker.

Education: Military police training, Marine Corps combat training, U.S. Marine Corps Basic Training and a high school graduate.

Background: I am looking to utilize what I have learned from the various leadership positions I have held, from my time in the U.S. Marine Corps as a corporal and as a civilian manager in the utility environment, to better serve Flathead Valley’s public schools as a trustee.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? I have a deep concern for the quality of the education that young Americans are receiving in today's school system and the apparent steady decline in American patriotism and morality, which I believe stems from the same system. Our children's education should be our state's biggest priority. Today's children will be tomorrow's parents, doctors, politicians, police officers, teachers, etc. I believe people in these highly influential positions of society, operating without a true sense of patriotism, morals, or values are signs of a society in decline.

I am committed to ensuring our children receive the proper education they deserve, that Montana's way of life prospers, and to bring the love of God and country back into our schools.

Jinnifer Mariman

Occupation: Attorney.

Family: Gabe Mariman; two children.

Education: Libby High School, Montana State University (B.S.), and Lewis & Clark Law School (J.D.).

Background: My husband and I are owners of two Kalispell businesses. Served on the CASA for Kids board of trustees, emeritus past-president. Co-creator of Bluebird Boxes to provide support and resources to families surviving suicide loss. Lawyer to help folks from my hometown of Libby who are sick from asbestos exposure. Host of SD5 student interns interested in being a lawyer or working in a law office.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? Having two elementary-aged children in School District 5 and being downtown Kalispell business owners, we are so appreciative of our schools. Running for school board is a way to give back to our community, schools, teachers and children. Also, as an attorney, I will carefully deliberate the critical issues being considered by the board. My goals as a trustee are to: Prepare our children for personal and professional successes; support the talent, skills, and abilities of all of our children and provide them with a safe and supportive learning environment; and foster partnerships and opportunities between students, teachers, schools and the community.

Shaun Pandina

Occupation: Entrepreneur/business owner.

Family: Wife, four children.

Education: I graduated from Columbia Falls High School and studied electronic engineering in college.

Background: I have been a Flathead Valley resident for over 30 years. I have started multiple successful businesses. I was an active, voting member in the Stillwater Christian School PTO for two years and a regular attendee of SD 5 board meetings. I am Precinct No. 32 committeeman on the Republican Central Committee. I am currently on the FCRCC budget committee. To get to know me better, visit my website:

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? I am a parent who has been active in attending board meetings. I have noticed that not many other parents are involved at this level. I think a positive change would be helping to find better ways to include parents and encourage them to participate. It is important for the board to know what parents think. They need to know how parents feel about what their students are being taught. I believe bringing parents and educators together will ultimately equal more successful students. The students are the future of our country, their success is our success.

Jesse Schulz

Occupation: Project manager at Applied Materials

Family: Wife Anna Schulz; sons Joseph and Beau.

Education: High school and U.S. Air Force.

Background: U.S. Air Force veteran and Christian family man.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? I want to serve as a Kalispell school board trustee to help enable children and young adults to become productive adults through focusing on fundamental education such as reading, writing and arithmetic. Our teachers need to be supported for their hard work, and they need proper resources and pay to be successful at their roles. I want to assist the current school board with a balanced budget and fiscal responsibility. As a Christian, I will hold a Biblical worldview as my guiding principles in the school board, as Montana (and our nation) is at a critical crossroad.

High school district candidates:

Will Hiatt (incumbent)

Occupation: For the last 10 years, doing computer work in the insurance industry. Worked as a FEMA contractor for the last five years.

Family: A son and a daughter.

Education: B.A. in elementary education with minors in mathematics and English from Central Washington University.

Background: My soon-to-be-completed term on the board of School District 5 has been my first elected position. Currently on the board of Valley Neighbors of the Flathead. Served on the leadership team for Love Lives Here.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? I bring a unique perspective as a trustee, having worked for the government with Flathead County and FEMA, for the private industry with leaders in the cellphone and global insurance markets, and having been through teacher training. School District 5 will have two levies on this upcoming ballot. If they fail to pass, we will have to make some tough decisions. As the representative from the rural high school district 1, I am committed to protecting the Kalispell Agricultural Education Center ( from cuts. The AEC provides a unique opportunity for our graduates to get invaluable hands-on training in the agricultural sciences.

Krista Buls

Occupation: I have worked in health care throughout my life and took a break while raising our six children until they reached school age. My husband and I opened a direct primary care called POEM Healthcare in Kalispell.

Family: Husband; six children.

Education: I attended high school in a small town in Minnesota and then headed to the University of North Dakota. At UND, I studied psychology and social work, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in social work.

Background: Pertinent background that I have would be managing a business and a busy home. I have been active at West Valley School for the past four years. I have also donated and dedicated my time to coaching youth basketball in the valley for the past 10-plus years.

Why do you want to serve as a trustee? My main priorities would be advocating for education, transparency and finding funding without increasing the impact on tax dollars.

It would be very beneficial to hear feedback from parents, teachers and administration from each school. Our community members are so willing to serve for the better of these schools. I would love to hear from them, and see what they think needs to be changed, how it would benefit their school, and why.

I believe this is a strength that I would bring to KPS. I am very interested in listening to the people who are actively working in, with, and for the schools. They are our eyes and ears to what needs to be done to make each system better.

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