A divided West Ada school board selects new leadership

MERIDIAN: West Ada School District trustees elected new leadership on split votes during their Monday night board meeting.

Rusty Coffelt, a retired fire chief who was appointed to the board last year, was selected as board chair. Lori Frasure, shortly after taking the oath of office, was elected vice chair. Both won leadership positions and 3-2 votes.

West Ada’s new board chair Rusty Coffelt and new vice chair Lori Frasure

New trustees Frasure and Angie Redford and relatively new trustee Coffelt bonded together in the leadership votes. Outgoing board chair Amy Johnson and former vice chair Rene Ozuna voted against the shakeup.

“The public has made their desires quite known in the last election — they would really like to see change,” Frasure said of Ozuna’s unsuccessful nomination for board chair. “And while I think she is an asset to the board, I do not feel that this is the right position for her at this time.”

Frasure and Redford during the election made clear their opposition to mask mandates in a race that had partisan undertones. Both candidates appeared for a joint radio interview with Idaho GOP Chairman Tom Luna, who told listeners “it’s critical that you get out and vote and support these conservatives, Republican(s) that ha(ve) stepped up to run in these races.”

The newcomers made both winning nominations. Frasure nominated Coffelt as chair. Redford nominated Frasure as vice chair.

Debate on Monday night revolved around maintaining experience vs. bringing in change in the leadership roles.

“I can’t support somebody brand new,” Johnson said of Frasure’s appointment.

Coffelt disclosed to board members that he may have to vacate the role by late summer to care for aging parents. “With that said, I am ready to fulfill the position of chairman. I think I can be effective in that role and continue this mission this board has of providing the best education for our children.”

If Coffelt resigns, he may be replaced by a board vote, said district spokesperson Char Jackson. The vice chair typically assumes the board chair spot before another board election for chair, said board Clerk Niki Scheppers.

Redford and Frasure said their election wins illustrate that voters wanted change.

Johnson said that votes do count, but she pointed out that only about 12,000 of the 100,000 people represented by West Ada’s board voted in the zoned election last November.

“That’s a pretty small percentage of the population,” Johnson said.

Only two out of five West Ada school board seats were up for election in November.

Kyle Pfannenstiel

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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