Boise school board selects longtime teacher, administrator as new trustee

The Boise School District board of trustees voted Monday to add a longtime administrator to their ranks. 

Debbie Donovan recently retired from a 40-year career serving the Boise district as a teacher, school administrator and district administrator. The school board unanimously voted to offer Donovan one more title: trustee.

Debbie Donovan

Donovan’s experience in Boise schools won over board members as they look ahead to budget-setting in the coming months. Donovan will sit on the board only until the next trustee election on Sept. 3, when she’ll have to win over Boise voters to retain her seat.

“My preference would be someone that really understands the process, that understands how we get to decisions with the budget, why the strategic plan is our guiding document, what it entails,” board vice president Maria Greeley said. “This is a really unique time to appoint somebody for such a short period of time.”

Donovan replaces Beth Oppenheimer, a Boise trustee for eight years. Oppenheimer resigned to relocate to Washington, D.C., where she’ll work for an education policy and research group.

The other candidate was Krista Hasler, a social worker, mother of four and frequent commenter on school board matters. Monday’s decision marks Hasler’s third unsuccessful bid for a board seat. 

Trustees interviewed the candidates for about 30 minutes each during a public meeting at the district office. They asked about seeking patron and student input, the board’s relationship with the teachers’ union and potential conflicts of interest, among other things. 

Donovan said she’s a good listener with a “wealth of public school knowledge,” and she looks forward to weighing issues from the school board, rather than trying to bring them to the table as an administrator.  “It’ll be a nice seat to be in,” she said. “I have the time to do the research and to read the materials that are presented…and then ask questions.”

Hasler touted her experience as a therapist and social worker assisting kids who were from low-income families or who had mental health issues. “I have a passion to help our youth that do not have what they need…so that they can find success.” 

Greeley asked Hasler about the endorsement of her 2022 school board campaign by the Idaho Liberty Dogs. The right-wing group mobilized against public health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic and pushed bans on library books in Meridian. 

Hasler rebuked the endorsement. “I did not seek it out, I did not accept it,” she said. “I don’t support anything that is extreme. I don’t support anything that goes against any group of people that we would represent as trustees.”

Donovan will be sworn in at the board’s next regular meeting on April 8.

Ryan Suppe

Ryan Suppe

Senior reporter Ryan Suppe covers education policy, focusing on K-12 schools. He previously reported on state politics, local government and business for newspapers in the Treasure Valley and Eastern Idaho. A Nevada native, Ryan enjoys golf, skiing and movies. Follow him on Twitter: @ryansuppe. Contact him at [email protected]

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