Friday in West Ada: Madsen resigns, Ranells gets contract extension

In the revolving door that is the West Ada School District, trustee Julie Madsen stepped down Friday night — and new Superintendent Mary Ann Ranells received a contract extension.

Karen Lehr from our broadcast partners KIVI and KNIN has the story from the board’s special meeting Friday.

Julie Madsen
Julie Madsen

Madsen, elected in May, was one of four trustees targeted in a recall campaign — orchestrated by supporters of former Superintendent Linda Clark, who resigned in October.

Madsen had a choice and faced a deadline Friday. She needed to decide whether to step down or stand for a May 17 recall election.

“The last thing I would say to those of you, and many are here tonight, who have said, ‘Stay and fight and I’ll fight with you,’ I’m going to ask instead to join me and fighting for our schools, rather than fighting against adults who aren’t putting our kids first,” Madsen said, according to Lehr’s report.

But after Madsen’s resignation, recall organizers again cried foul. They called Madsen’s resignation the first step in an orchestrated effort to stack the five-member board through the appointment process. Trustees will meet Monday to consider replacements to Madsen — and recall organizers ripped trustees for accepting finalists from an online application that was open on the district website for one day last week.

“Russ Joki, Tina Dean, and Carol Sayles have lost all credibility as trustees and should resign their positions immediately,” said Christine Donnell, the former Meridian school superintendent who co-chairs the recall campaign. “They have demonstrated a complete lack (of) transparency as they have schemed to undermine the will of the people demanding their recall.”

However, the application process is still open, the West Ada district says on its website. Interested patrons can turn in paperwork Monday or summit their applications during another special trustee meeting at 8 p.m. Monday.

Monday figures to be another busy day in West Ada, since Joki and Sayles are now on the clock. Monday is their deadline to decide whether to resign or stand for recall, Lehr reports. Dean’s deadline is Friday, Feb. 26, Lehr reports.

Mary Ann Ranells
Mary Ann Ranells

Ranells’ contract. Meanwhile, Ranells now has a contract through June 2017.

The former Lakeland district superintendent and deputy state superintendent was hired in December to replace Clark. At the time, Ranells signed a $77,478 contract to cover the remainder of the school year.

The contract extension is not much of a surprise. In an interview with Idaho Education News and KIVI/KNIN, Ranells said she made a three-year commitment to heading the state’s largest school district, and says trustees asked her if she’d be willing to stay for seven years.

More about Ranells: Idaho Education News and KIVI/KNIN teamed up on a Ranells profile this month; read it and watch it here.