Kalispell School Board Candidate Interview: Reynolds Cameron

Cameron is an accountant and landlord who has three children in the Kalispell Public Schools.

By Denali Sagner

Flathead Beacon: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Reynolds Cameron: Three generations of Camerons have lived in the Flathead Valley starting in 2011, when my parents moved to Bigfork. My wife, three kids and I began the move to Bigfork in 2019, and settled in Kalispell in July 2020. I have an MBA from the University of Southern California and a Masters in Neuroscience from Lund University in Sweden, where I studied as a Fulbright Scholar. My wife and I met in Oslo, Norway where she got a PhD in breast cancer genomics and I worked in consumer behavior research and as a substitute high school chemistry and math teacher. Then my wife accepted a post-doctoral position at Stanford University, so we moved to San Francisco. My family was fortunate to move to beautiful Kalispell to escape woke policies that are sadly rampant in California. I work as an accountant and landlord, while my wife is a senior cancer genomics researcher with AbbVie Pharmaceutical.

FB: What is your relationship to the Kalispell Public Schools? 

RC: My three children attend Hedges Elementary School, though my daughter will enter Kalispell Middle School (KMS) next year. As well, my niece – whom I am the legal guardian of – is a junior at the wonderful Stillwater Christian School. My youngest son was fortunate to have attended the Woodland Montessori School. Like all parents, my wife and I homeschooled our children during COVID lockdowns.

FB: Why are you running for school board? 

RC: To represent all Kalispell families in the district. Special interests in Helena have been pressuring some school districts to implement the “equity agenda.” It is no secret that DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] is code for mandated equal outcomes, racist policies, and the abolishment of merit. I will not permit Helena or Washington, D.C. to destroy Kalispell schools.

FB: What are some positive elements of the Kalispell Public Schools you’d like to see continued as a school board trustee? 

RC: Flathead Valley students are blessed with options at the high school level, from Flathead’s IB and music/theater program, to Glacier’s AP classes and sports dominance, to Linderman’s alternative education options, to the Vo-Ag Center. We have wonderful local walking distance elementary schools and pod-based learning at KMS. We have a committed parent community and dedicated professional educators. 

FB: What are some things you’d like to change about the district as a trustee? 

RC: Our schools rely too much on teaching to the median or lowest common denominator. We should increase use of mixed-age with ability grouping to expand opportunities for both precocious and neurodivergent learners, alike. Also, we need to harness the skills and experience of senior teachers. Rather than incentivizing early retirement, we should reward continued service by our best senior educators. The district needs to accurately account for recruitment expenses, training costs, medical benefits and pension costs in accounting for district finances when attempting to eliminate out best senior educators. End the burden on working families by abolishing the Half Day Wednesdays policy.

FB: Alongside school districts across Montana, the Kalispell Public Schools have faced considerable financial challenges this year. Depending on the fate of upcoming levies, the district is set to face a budget deficit between $1.3 million and $3.1 million. What do you see as the best path forward as the district navigates financial challenges? 

In January 2024, local residents donated $733,750 to SD5 through the Innovative Educational Program Tax Credit; Kalispell voters approved the Elementary District levy last year. This proves that residents value the service that KPS offers. However, there has been less success in persuading voters from the high school cistrict to step up as Kalispellites have done. KPS has not adequately treated home-schooled and private school families as constituents. If more attention was paid to these families, perhaps more taxpayers in Flathead County would support SD5 levies for our high schools. Too often, many current SD5 Trustees abrogate their fiduciary duty, acting as a rubber stamp for the superintendent.

FB: KPS over the past few years has focused on personalized competency-based education (PCBE) and work-based learning as methods to create individualized educational opportunities for students. What do you think the role of PCBE and career-focused education should be in students’ learning? 

RC: With the rate of advancement of sentient AI, it is difficult to anticipate the future that the graduating class of 2040 will encounter. Flexibility and eagerness to learn will be important traits in the future. However, the wisdom of Pythagoras, Socrates, Jesus, Shakespeare, Newton, Rousseau, Beethoven, Mendel, our Founding Fathers and MLK has survived and promulgated civilization for millennia. PCBE – if implemented well – can be an important source to foster both a classical education model, while simultaneously enabling students to pursue dynamic vocations and academics at their own pace, with relevance to their individual desires, needs and abilities. Done poorly, it can be a waste of money and appeal to mediocrity.

FB: What experience / skills do you have that would make you an effective school board trustee? 

RC: As an accountant and former scientist, I approach problems with analytical skepticism. As a builder, investor and entrepreneur, I appreciate innovation, opportunity, grit, and hard work. As parents of mixed race children of Western and Eastern faiths, we cherish family and education, while aspiring to excellence, service, and charity. I am not afraid of receiving criticism or to speak hard truths. As someone who has lived with epilepsy and whose parents came from low-income single mother/widow, I have an Everyman’s appreciation for the challenges, adversity, and aspirations faced by families across the Flathead Valley.