Newly elected trustees take over Nampa school board leadership

 

New Nampa School District trustees Jeff Kirkman and Tracey Pearson were appointed as board chair and vice chair, respectively, Tuesday.

NAMPA — The Nampa School District’s Board of Trustees elected two newcomers into leadership roles Tuesday night.

Trustees voted 3-2 during a regular board meeting to appoint incoming board member Jeff Kirkman, a former prison warden and Nampa planning and zoning commissioner, as board chair. Tracey Pearson, a registered nurse who’s also new to the board, was elected vice chair following a separate 3-2 vote.

The two trustees who have experience on the board, outgoing chair Mandy Simpson and Mike Kipp, opposed Tuesday’s leadership appointments, saying they wanted more experience. Brook Taylor, who’s also new to the board, joined Kirkman and Pearson in supporting their appointments — and rejecting a separate motion to keep Kipp in as vice chair.

“(Kirkman) clearly has some strength,” Kipp said. “My one concern is the amount of information to know. … There is such a firehose of information to learn early on.”

Kirkman, Pearson and Taylor were elected by voters in November. The election, which filled three open spots, was defined by tense discussion of political hot topics like masks, race and equity, as Idaho Education News previously reported. Tuesday’s meeting, following school closures amid a rise in coronavirus infections, also drew talk of pandemic protocols.

Tuesday’s leadership votes followed little discussion. Taylor nominated both Kirkman and Pearson to their new roles. Taylor said she valued their experience, and Pearson can bring “clarity” to community connection when planning board meetings.

Pearson, backing Kirkman, said she thinks he was “voted in for change,” and that “would be something that the community would honor.”

Terms for incumbent trustees Simpson and Kipp expire next year.

Nampa’s school board leadership shakeups come a week after similar votes on the West Ada School District board, where the new chair and vice chair are also newcomers.

Watch Tuesday’s meeting here.

Nampa School District’s board elected a new chair and vice chair at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. Kyle Pfannenstiel/Idaho EdNews

Trustees vote 4-1 to hire a new clerk

Trustees voted 4-1 to hire Krissy LaMont as a part-time board clerk, though Nampa spokeswoman Kathleen Tuck said administrators are unclear whether LaMont is an independent contractor or a district employee. Administrators are trying to find out if the vote qualifies as legally hiring LaMont, Tuck said, adding that the administration did not receive notice ahead of time about LaMont’s hiring.

“I know that HR is looking at it, they’re trying to figure out how this works,” Tuck added. “We certainly want to get it wrapped up as soon as possible. We need a board clerk.”

LaMont told EdNews Wednesday that she is an independent contractor.

LaMont worked as the Idaho School Boards Association’s leadership and development director until Sept. 9, 2021.

LaMont has been charged in the past year with driving under the influence and petty theft, both misdemeanors, online court records show. She is scheduled for a jury trial on one petty theft charge on Feb. 14. Her DUI case was closed, following her October guilty plea.

Tuck told EdNews Wednesday the district did not run a background check on LaMont. District employees who interact with children undergo background checks, she added.

The district’s former clerk, who also worked full-time in the district, earned an annual stipend of $8,568 a year for her clerkship, Tuck said.

Taylor nominated LaMont for the job, praising her crisis and leadership-management skills. Simpson voted against LaMont’s hiring, and expressed concern about bringing on a hand-selected candidate, rather than posting the job to allow for more applicants.

“I nominated Krissy Lamont because she is qualified for the job,” Taylor wrote to EdNews in a prepared statement Wednesday. “Not only does she possess all of the skills and experience as outlined by the position as presented by our district, she also specializes in crisis management, conflict resolution and leadership training, which I believe is a set of skills that any board can benefit from.”

Trustees vote 3-2 to change pandemic response plan

The board also approved on a 3-2 vote changes to its pandemic response plan Tuesday. The change allows district staffers to isolate and quarantine for only five days after exposure to or testing positive for COVID-19. The move halved the prior timeline of 10 days, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance issued in December.

The board’s next planned meeting is Feb. 14.

Kyle Pfannenstiel

About Kyle Pfannenstiel

Reporter Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the implementation of policy in Idaho’s K-12 public school system. He’s a military brat and former health care reporter who holds degrees in Journalism and Political Science from University of Idaho. Follow Kyle on Twitter @pfannyyy. He can be reached at [email protected]

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