‘Be open and receptive,’ school leaders give advice to new superintendent

Idahoans elected a new state superintendent Tuesday, and school leaders have a lot to say.

EdNews asked school board trustees and administrators at the Idaho School Boards Association’s annual convention what advice they would give to Debbie Critchfield, who will take over the superintendent’s role after her blowout win Tuesday night.

Here’s what we heard.

Clete Edmunson
Council School District


“I always believe that we should all be working as one team, whether you’re school board members or administrators or teachers. My vision for education when I was in the Legislature or working for Governor Otter was: ‘What’s best for our kids?’ That’s what we say in Council every time we make a decision in a board meeting. Everybody should be working together. Anytime you have division between groups, kids suffer.”


Peter McPherson
State Department of Education
Chief Deputy Superintendent

“I’d really encourage leadership, whether it be the new superintendent or the governor or the new lieutenant governor, anybody, to really reach out to the folks on the field and really listen to what their thoughts are and what challenges they have, and also some solutions they offer. I really think that connection with the districts and LEAs (local education associations) across the state are really, really important. My biggest advice for anybody assuming new leadership is just making sure they reach out to the constituency and their patrons and their stakeholders, and making that connection with them.”

Ellie Getchius
Kootenai School District
First-year trustee

“As much help or education that she can give new trustees. There’s a lot of want and need for new views, new voices, new participation and I think it’s pretty rewarding, but having some knowledge to go with that new role is pretty key. ISBA does a great job giving the education piece, but if there’s any way to do more. At our school district, we have to pay for it, so you kind of have to pick and choose.”


Rod Malone
Valley School District
First-year trustee

“I just hope she’s open-minded and will listen to the constituents of the state. I think my big concern is to make sure that everything stays in the local area, local control. Let the districts make up their own minds about what’s good for them.”


Craig Woods
Emmett School District

“Listen to the superintendents and the board members around the state, and what the needs are and concerns are in the districts. I know it’s local, but trying to find some common ideas that are there and focus on those.”


Tony Bonuccelli
Moscow Charter School

“I think continuing funding in an upward motion, to where districts have the autonomy to spend it the way that they see fits. Because every district in the state of Idaho has different needs.”


Heather Wilcox
Kootenai School District
Vice Chair

“Having an open mind coming in, and realizing that all the trustees are going to have different personalities, difference strengths and weaknesses and making sure to be a team player to all of them and their individual capacities. And working as a team, with the collective in mind.”



Sadie Dittenber

Sadie Dittenber

Reporter Sadie Dittenber focuses on K-12 policy and politics. She is a College of Idaho graduate, born and raised in the Treasure Valley. You can follow Sadie on Twitter @sadiedittenber and send her news tips at [email protected].

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