Blaine County superintendent finalists forum set for Thursday

Blaine County school officials will conduct a virtual community forum Thursday night to introduce two finalists for the open superintendent’s position to the community.

The virtual forum runs from 6-8:15 p.m., and the public can participate by Zoom or by calling in on the phone.

The two finalists are:

  • James Foudy, superintendent of the McCall-Donnelly School District in Valley County. Foudy has served as superintendent since 2015. He began his career teaching elementary school in Boise in 1996. He went on to become the elementary principal for Donnelly and McCall elementary schools in 2003. “Blaine County has a long and proud history of innovative practices that meet the needs of students and families,” Foudy said in a statement released by Blaine County. “I feel called to support that continued effort.”
  • Heather Sanchez, executive director of schools for Washington’s Bellevue School District. In her current position, Sanchez provides support and supervision for nine schools and is responsible for implementation of the district’s strategic plan and goals. Throughout her career she has served as a classroom teacher, program coordinator, instructional specialist, principal and central office administrator. “It is very clear to me (that Blaine County) is a very special place, with a dedicated and supportive community that is positioned to achieve even greater levels of excellence for students,” Sanchez said in a written statement. “I am committed to working relentlessly toward this goal and am thrilled to have the opportunity to spend some time getting to know the community very soon.”

The two finalists are vying to succeed former Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes, who announced her sudden and immediate resignation Nov. 12. Originally, Holmes told district officials in March that she would complete the school year and remain as superintendent until June 30.

GwenCarol Holmes

Holmes was hired in 2014, but her time as superintendent in Blaine County was turbulent. In 2019, there was a public petition calling for her ouster. Before her resignation, 71 percent of respondents to a district survey expressed dissatisfaction with the superintendent.

Holmes had been Idaho’s highest-paid superintendent, earning a salary of $180,208.

Holmes’ predecessor, Lonnie Barber, also stepped down under pressure. Barber left in 2013 with a $600,000 settlement after clashing with trustees over leadership styles.

As for the current search, the school board considered 27 applications from 15 states.

Five semifinalists interviewed with the board in December. Then the board narrowed the field to the finalists of Foudy and Sanchez.

The district’s search firm of Hazard & Associates will moderate Thursday’s virtual forum, allow attendees to ask questions and provide a Spanish audio option, the district announced in a news release.

The two finalists will split the time — one finalist will join the forum from 6-7 p.m., while the other finalist will join from 7:15-8:15 p.m.

District officials anticipate making a final selection this month and having the new superintendent assume office on July 1. After Holmes’ resignation, Wood River Middle School Principal Fritz Peters stepped in as acting superintendent.

Blaine County has one of the wealthiest tax bases in Idaho, serving central Idaho’s Wood River Valley, including the town of Ketchum and the Sun Valley Resort area.

Blaine County is not the state’s only high profile superintendent opening. On Sunday, West Ada Superintendent Mary Ann Ranells wrote a letter of resignation to trustees, saying she would resign effective June 30. West Ada is the state’s largest school district, serving about 38,000 students K-12.

Meet the finalists

Members of the public can join the Blaine County community forum via a streaming Zoom link or by calling (312) 626-6799 and entering the password/access code 819 9429 6172. The forum runs from 6-8:15 p.m. Thursday.


Clark Corbin

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