Kalispell 2023 School Board Trustee Candidate Profile: Scott Warnell

Scott Warnell, a former school resource police officer, is completing his first term on the Kalispell School Board.

By Denali Sagner
Scott Warnell. Courtesy photo.

Editor’s Note: The Beacon asked slightly different questions to incumbent and non-incumbent candidates. Scott Warnell is an incumbent. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Flathead Beacon: Could you tell me a little bit about yourself and your relationship to the Kalispell Public Schools?

Scott Warnell: I’m retired from the Kalispell Police Department. During my tenure in the police department, I was a school resource officer for two years, DARE officer for two years, and my wife is also a teacher in the district. So that’s kind of my background. What got me interested in running for school board, I just wanted to make sure that this continues to be a great spot for teachers to come and teach and kids to learn in this district.

FB: Do you have kids in the district?

SW: I have two kids that graduated from this district, both graduated from Flathead.

FB: How long have you served on the school board?

SW: I’m just finishing up my first term, so three years.

FB: Finishing up your first term, is there anything you want to highlight that you’re proud of during your tenure on the board? Are there things you think the board has accomplished since you’ve joined it?

SW: The biggest accomplishment I think we did in my first tenure was to keep the doors open for the entire time during COVID. I know that the mask mandate that we implemented was not the most popular. But if I remember correctly, we were the only school district in the entire state that was able to keep their doors open the entire pandemic, or at the height of the pandemic, let’s put it that way, because I guess people will still say it’s going on. I feel that that was one of the more controversial things we did, but it was also very successful. Making sure that kids were still able to get to school, because a lot of kids, that’s where they get their meals, and that’s their safe spot. So the more we’re able to keep the doors open for those kiddos, the better.

KPS was the only class AA school district in Montana to avoid pandemic-related school closures in the 2020-21 school year, which Superintendent Micah Hill has attributed to the district’s mask mandate imposed at the time.

FB: Are there things you look forward to changing or accomplishing if you’re reelected to the board?

SW: Couple of things, I would say. I know that the levy issue is going to be run at the same time as my campaign. I would be proud if we’re able to pass a high school levy. I know that that is controversial as well, because no one wants their taxes increased. And, you know, I’ll be the first to say, I don’t want my taxes increased as well. But it’s really important that we have an operational levy that will allow us to be able to do everything we want to without having to cut anything. We don’t want to cut teachers’ positions. We don’t want to cut sports or extracurricular activities. We don’t want to have to charge more for kids to do extracurricular activities. So, that’s what a lot of that operational high school levy will go toward — for all the little things that will allow the kids to be able to do the extracurricular activities while being able to pay teachers a reasonable salary that can keep the teachers here.