School board proves to be a balancing act for trustees

When he’s not helping set the school district budget, Todd Wells might be tending to a sick dairy cow.

Todd Wells
Todd Wells

And when John Menter isn’t implementing education policy at the local level, he’s probably driving the snowplow.

Such is often the life of school board trustees, who enjoy the rare status of being elected, volunteer public officials.

Both Wells and Menter are members of the executive board of the Idaho School Boards Association, a statewide nonprofit that represents more than 500 Idaho school trustees.

And both represent small school districts that serve approximately 300 students.

Wells is a member of the Castleford Joint School District Board of Trustees and president of the ISBA.

Like many trustees, Wells and Menter balance school board duties with a life, family and career.

Like what you’re reading? Sign up for our weekly newsletter »

Working with a partner and three associates, Wells runs a mixed-animal rural veterinarian practice in the Twin Falls County town of Castleford.

“I spend most mornings with dairy cows or doing reproductive herd health checks, and in the afternoon it’s anything from house cats to emergency surgery to horses, even working with elk and camels, turtles and alpacas,” Wells said. “If it’s around, we try to help it out.”

He became interested in serving on the school board because he’s a Castleford native and his father was on the school board before him. On top of that, his grandmother, mother, father and brother were all educators.

“It’s mostly the same for all of us trustees,” Wells said. “Seeing student success that ranges anywhere from academic to professional career development success, to seeing success when kids are excited about what they are learning or what they are doing. Seeing them excited when they perform well at a concert, sporting event or whatever that brightens their faces.”

Menter is a heavy equipment operator in Latah County, where he serves on the Troy school board. He’s also vice president of the ISBA.

John Menter
John Menter

This time of year, Menter is pretty much on call 24/7 when he doesn’t already have school obligations. During the worst of it – a winter storm in 1996 – Menter remembers showing up at 2 a.m. one morning to help clear the roads. He didn’t park the snowplow until about 11 p.m. the next night.

“We don’t do that much anymore,” he concedes. “Storms aren’t as bad as they once were.”

From an early age, Menter’s parents stressed that service and volunteerism were important parts of living in a small community.

That’s what he most enjoys about serving on the local school board.

“The most rewarding thing is having students come back after they graduate — who’ve gone out and into college or into life – and come back and given us a hint about what kind education they received at Troy and how it helped them succeed,” Menter said.

This week, Wells and Menter’s attention is focused on education and the three-day ISBA convention, which includes workshops, education training and networking.

The festivities culminate Friday, when members vote on a series of proposed resolutions to bring forward as policy positions to the Legislature.

ISBA members are set to consider a suite of proposals including lowering the supermajority threshold for school bonds, timelines for master agreement negotiations and a potential rebuke of the tiered licensure certification proposal.

Republish this article on your website