Two terms are ending on the Vermillion School Board and three candidates will be seeking to fill those two openings. Incumbent Rachel Olson is seeking reelection and the other candidates are Shane Nordyke and Wade A. Larson.
School Board member Tim Schwasinger will not be seeking re-election.
There are no Clay County Commission races upcoming, as elections for that branch of local government are held on even-numbered years. The Vermillion City Council, the Vermillion School Board and the bond election for the Clay County Jail, Law Enforcement Center and Courthouse will all appear on the June 8 ballot.
Absentee voting began Friday, April 23 for the June 8 election. This is a combined election with Clay County, the City of Vermillion, and the Vermillion School District.
The Clay County Auditor’s Office advises that voters wishing to obtain a sample ballot should pay attention to make sure they get the proper one.
Clay County voters within Vermillion city limits will have the sample ballot labeled "City Wards." Clay County voters outside of Vermillion city limits but within the Vermillion School District will have the sample ballot labeled "Rural In Vermillion School 13-1." Clay County voters outside of Vermillion city limits and in a school district other than Vermillion School District will have the sample ballot labeled "Rural NOT in Vermillion School 13-1."
Union County voters who reside in the Vermillion School District will have the sample ballot labeled "Union County Voters in Vermillion School 13-1." People are advised to contact the auditor’s office if they need more information.
This week, the focus is on the candidates in the upcoming Vermillion School Board election.
Wade A. Larson
Occupation: Self-employed farmer, local business owner and entrepreneur
Family: Wife (Stacey) and our children
I am running because: I grew up in Vermillion. I have a child who has graduated from the Vermillion School District and other children currently enrolled. They have been able to gain knowledge and participate in different extra-curricular activities which gives them the skills to succeed beyond graduation. I want to serve because I want to be a part of continuing to see the Vermillion School District continue on the path of educating our children to be strong leaders in our community.
Qualities I bring to the board: I have been involved with diverse business entities including home construction and property management. These entities have required me to be able to establish and maintain budgets as well as delegating contracts.
Community/Public Service: I have been a member of two School Board committees. I have supported prom and the after prom party. I have donated to area schools. I have volunteered for Ribs, Rods and Rock N Roll. I have also supported Special Olympics/Polar Plunge.
The biggest challenge facing the District: The mental health of our students. The pandemic has had a tremendous impact on many students. Students have suffered with depression, anxiety and loneliness. Because of these issues many are having to deal with loss of learning. We need to ensure that our students are learning in an environment that is friendly, helpful and safe. Also important to me is the facilities. Our school facilities need to be maintained properly to provide a quality educational experience.
I would like voters to know: I want to make the Vermillion School District a fun and safe environment for all students. This can be accomplished by maintaining responsible school budgets and continuing to maintain and upgrade school facilities. I would also be an advocate for our schools, our students, and the families we serve.
Occupation: Professor at USD
Family: Married with two kids in the district.
I’m running because: The experience and skills I bring to the table will help the Vermillion School District achieve their goals. I also want to make sure that our teachers and staff, the backbone of our school system, have a voice on the board and that we are a welcoming district for all of the kids in our community.
Qualities I bring to the board: I have a PhD in Public Policy and 15 years experience as an educator as well as extensive experience writing grants, evaluating programs, and managing contracts and budgets. I will also bring a willingness to do the research necessary to answer questions with the best evidence we have and to listen to parents, teachers, and students in our district.
The state of the Vermillion School District: The Vermillion School District did an amazing job navigating an incredibly difficult year but we still have work to do. Our teachers and staff need greater pay and more resources. We do a great job meeting the needs of most students, but a lot of students are left out. We need to do a better job of helping ALL kids be the best versions of themselves. We can do a better job meeting the diverse needs of our community.
The biggest challenges facing the District: Our district is growing, we need to have the staff, programs, and facilities to accommodate that growth. That will require careful planning and creativity to find the resources we need to meet those needs.
I would like voters to know: I will be a strong advocate and voice for our students, teachers, and staff.
Rachel E. Olson
Occupation: Currently the Director of Clinic Operations at the Sanford Vermillion Clinic, employed with Sanford Vermillion Medical Center since 2006.
Family: Farms near Meckling, SD while living in Vermillion with Husband Nick and daughter Margaret 8 (Jolley Elementary) and sons Andrew 6 (Austin Elementary) and William 4 ( Austin Preschool) and daughter Hannah 2. Grandparents Warren and Roxane Olson of Meckling SD and Marc and Teresa Svartoien of Freeman SD. Lived in Vermillion since 2004.
I’m running because: I currently serve as a board member of the Vermillion School District to contribute my skills as a business leader to help our children and families reach their goals. School boards should have business expertise to be able meet the financial constraints schools continue to feel. Teachers are operating in a 1960 building and it’s time to change that! Covid-19 has showed us that our community can battle through tough situations but we can’t forget those who will need our help years to come. Mental Health is more important than ever and we need to provide resources to our teachers, students and families.
Describe the state of the Vermillion School District: We are fortunate to leave in a community who values education and continues to be progressive in the delivering of education services. Vermillion School District has two again elementary schools where the learning environment is exceeding its current space. Enrollment is projected to continue to increase the next 5 years. Financial stable with the recent passage of an opt out. Strengthening our staffing resources for children like a Behavioral Interventionist and Social Worker. Continue to provide services for early childhood and preschool families. Fostering partnerships with organizations such as the Vermillion Public School Foundation, Athletic and Music Boosters, local healthcare and city/university. Offer a safe learning environment for our community.
Qualities I bring to the board: I bring a young, energetic and innovative business minded approach to bring us into the future state. I have served for 6 years on the board and bring fiscal government and a perspective for early childhood. I have 17 years of healthcare experience’s, which was extremely beneficial while navigating a pandemic. USD Bachelors of Businesses in Healthcare Administration and Masters of Public Administration. School Boards need to be run more like a business where they can allocate resources to equip the best teachers and leaders.
The biggest challenges facing the District: COVID-19 is going to shape the future of education. Many schools have closed and provided distance learning. Thank you Vermillion School District for safely allowing our children to attend in school or have access to distance learning. Mental Health needs and learning loss will be the upcoming challenge our distract faces. Curriculum Development to meet the needs of all children while capturing the resources that our community and state offers. Specifically challenges that are happening in aging elementary buildings. I want space to be inclusive to early childhood education. Safe space and attendance (truancy) for children which can come through partnerships like Boys and Girls Clubs.
I would like voters to know: Thank you for allowing me to serve for the past 6 years. This has been a wonderful experience where I have brought my business/healthcare knowledge to the table. We have seen growth and progress to the district in the past 10 years while maintaining our values. I would be honored to continue to seek progress for our teachers, staff and students. My husband likes to golf and fish in his free time, I like showing my children that moms can be good public servants and role models for our future generations!