Businessman to fill Moffat County School Board vacancy |

Businessman to fill Moffat County School Board vacancy

Former Moffat County Commissioner John Kincaide answers a question from the school board as candidates Chris Thome and Kathryn Simpson wait their turn.
Sasha Nelson

A vacancy on the school board was filled on Thursday when a Craig businessman was selected to serve until elections in November.

The seat was vacated when former Moffat County School Board member Charity Neal was forced to move out of the district, District 7, that she had been elected to represent in 2015.

After a round-robin interview, through a unanimous decision, the board selected Axis Steel Operations Manager Chris Thome from the candidates.

Former Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid and Craig resident Kathryn Sampson were also interviewed for the vacancy.

“Having worked with Chris on strategic planning and watching him come to meetings last year, he’s shown he has a clear interest in our district,” said Board Member Jo Ann Baxter.

Thome has one child in enrolled at East Elementary School and a second will start kindergarten this fall. He has participated in the Parent Advisory Group, was active during 2016-17 community working groups, participated in the 2016-17 strategic planning process, sat on the superintendent hiring committee and developed the Axis Steel “PAC the Bin” fundraiser, raising thousands of dollars to benefit the schools.

In contrast to Kinkaid and Sampson, who both focused on school finance and student achievement, Thome also raised the importance of communication during his interview with the board.

“The community doesn’t see the big picture. The board has a great message it can send and the board can be a part of that. More needs to be done so the community gets behind the school district,” Thome said.

When asked about the important of school district employees, Thome answered, “it’s the number one asset, the number one priority in the budget. They are what keep the district running. They are extremely important.”

Thome described a willingness to contribute his time and energy and his interest in testing the waters before decided if he’ll run for an elected term.

“This is a great opportunity to find out what it’s about, get a really good crash course. The next board will be tasked with the closing of a school, do you really want to be a part of that?” he said.

After his selection to the board, Thome shared his thoughts on the closure of an elementary school saying, “this is the inevitable reality. We are not growing as a community. I can’t see the justification for keeping all four open when enrollment is going down and those two things are not keeping up with each other. I don’t like it, but I think it’s what the school district has to do to survive.”

In the coming months Thome will help select consultants that will assist the school district in the work of deciding which school to close.

“I’m happy to be involved and to be working with them (the board) in making the school district better,” Thome said.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education