Boise’s incumbent trustees will seek re-election

(UPDATED, 5:06 p.m. Thursday, with additional candidate filing information.)

The Boise School District’s five School Board incumbents are running again.

The trustees made the announcement in a joint news release Thursday, ahead of the district’s Sept. 6 board elections.

The incumbents touted Boise’s track record — including graduation rate numbers that don’t square with the state’s data.

The news release pegs Boise’s graduation rate at 90%, based on the district’s data. But according to the State Department of Education, Boise’s 2021 graduation rate was 81.4%, slightly above the statewide rate of 80.1%.

In an email Thursday, district spokesman Ryan Hill said the 90% figure appears to be based on older graduation rates for Boise’s four high schools. According to SDE data for the class of 2021, Boise graduation rates ranged from 82% at Capital High School to 90.6% at Timberline High School.

The incumbents also touted community support for the schools — as evidenced by a $172 million bond issue, which passed with 86% support in 2017.

“Our work is not done, and I pledge to use my leadership experience, business background, and community connections to provide superior college and career opportunities to all our students,” Board President David Wagers said Thursday.

“The Boise School District has a legacy of excellence,” trustee Beth Oppenheimer said.

With Thursday’s announcements, here’s how the Boise elections currently shape up:

  • Elected in 2016, Wagers and Oppenheimer will run for six-year terms, along with any challengers who file. All candidates for six-year terms will run on a single ballot, and the top two vote-getters will be elected. Wagers is president of Idaho Candy Co.; Oppenheimer is executive director of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, an early education advocacy group.
  • Andy Hawes, an attorney appointed to the board in April 2021, is seeking to serve out the remaining four years of his term. He has one opponent. Neil Mercer — who has requested to be identified as Neil “Gnome” Mercer on the ballot — filed election paperwork Tuesday.
  • Steve Schmidt, an engineer appointed to the board in December, will seek to serve out the final two years of his term. Shiva Rajbhandari, a rising senior at Boise High School, has announced plans to run for this seat, but he has not filed formal paperwork yet.
  • Elizabeth Langley, appointed in November 2020, is seeking to finish out the final two years of her term. She is a partner with the Echelon Group, a Boise financial services firm. Todd Kurowski of Boise also filed for the race Thursday.

The candidate filing period runs through July 8.

Most school districts hold trustee elections in November of odd-numbered calendar years. However, Boise operates on a governing charter that predates statehood; this document calls for elections on the first Tuesday in September. That means the Boise trustee election usually falls on the day after Labor Day, as will be the case this year.

With roughly 23,000 students, Boise is the state’s second largest school district.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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