Commission narrows search for director, welcomes new members

The Idaho Public Charter School Commission is narrowing its search for a third director in less than a year. The commission also added two new members, who were welcomed in a special meeting Thursday.

Ten candidates have applied for the director job, which has been troubled of late and vacant since August. Alex Adams, Gov. Brad Little’s budget chief, has filled in as interim director for the commission that authorizes and oversees charter schools. 

In Thursday’s meeting, commissioners debated whether to hold an executive session in the coming weeks to discuss the candidates. They hope to select one before the legislative session starts in January. 

Chairman Alan Reed joked that he was “a little gunshy” about holding an executive session, referring to a 2019 incident in which the commission held a closed-door meeting that violated Idaho open meeting law. 

Idaho Public Charter School Commissioner Pete Koehler

But the commissioners ultimately decided that a closed meeting is necessary to promote frank conversations about the candidates. Idaho law allows public boards to meet privately when hiring.

“There has to be, I believe, a conversation between the commissioners on ‘Here we are, what do you really think, good or bad?’” said Commissioner Pete Koehler, who joined the board this summer. “And that does need to be done in an executive session, in my opinion.” 

According to the job posting, which will remain open until next week, the salary for the position ranges from $52 to $57 per hour.

The candidate search comes after two directors resigned this year. The most recent director, Nichole Hall, resigned in August after less than two months on the job, Idaho EdNews previously reported. She said at the time that she accepted another job that was “appropriate for the current stage of my career.” 

Hall had replaced Jenn Thompson, who resigned in March alongside former commissioner Brian Scigliano. The pair accused the board of acting irresponsibly when it exempted a charter school from an accounting practice that allows commissioners to evaluate a school’s financial health. 

Commissioners plan to meet privately Nov. 27 to discuss the candidates. 

Two new members join commission

A longtime school trustee and a former state lawmaker joined the commission Thursday. 

The gubernatorial appointees are Wally Hedrick, longtime trustee and current chairman of the Meridian Technical Charter High School board, and former Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene, who served three terms in the Idaho House. 

Idaho Public Charter School Commissioner Wally Hedrick

Hedrick, who also served as president of the Idaho School Boards Association, thanked Little for appointing him to the commission. 

“I think it’s very important to the state and future of education,” he said. 

Charter school commission appointments must be approved by the Idaho Senate. In an unusual move this year, senators rejected Little’s appointment of former commissioner Karen Echeverria, which created a vacancy on the board. 

Scigliano’s resignation created another vacancy, while former commissioner Nils Peterson’s term ended in June, leading to a third. Koehler was appointed to one seat and Hedrick and Amador to the other two. 

The three appointments are pending Senate confirmation in the upcoming legislative session.

Idaho Public Charter School Commissioner Paul Amador

Amador said Thursday that he’s excited to work on projects and initiatives that help Idaho students.

“That’s the critical part here,” he said.

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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