East Idaho trustee connects education to jobs

SODA SPRINGS — By day, Jim Stoor monitors pumps that push slurry from the Smoky Canyon Mine through a 60-mile pipeline to Pocatello.

By night, he serves as a trustee in the Soda Springs School District.

Stoor’s career as a tradesman and his role as a trustee represent the connection between education and jobs in Idaho — something that drives his desire to help his local district.

“Learning beyond high school is so important,” he said. “Any education, whether it is from a college or university or from a trade school that trains up a workforce for the future of our country is incredibly important.”

Stoor has served on the Soda Springs school board for 13 years, and his commitment to public service was cemented last year when he was elected vice president of the Idaho School Boards Association. He also serves as an alternate for the By-Laws and Resolutions Committee for National School Board Association’s pacific region.

This week, Stoor and roughly 500 other trustees and school leaders from across the state, have gathered to meet, build relationships, receive training and vote on policy as part of the annual conference of the Idaho School Boards Association. The event concludes on Friday with membership deciding on proposed resolutions.

Jim Stoor3Stoor’s education passion is all about on-the-job training — something that’s driven his career as a skilled laborer for J.R. Simplot Company for years and helped him ascend the ranks of the ISBA.

“I’ve learned most of what I know on the job, but I’ve also used my life lessons and previous work positions to mold me and train me into where I am today,” he said.

Many of those life lessons came from raising four kids, including one who’s now a teacher.

But his daughter’s decision to teach school in Wyoming is one reminder of where Idaho education falls short, Stoor said.

He pointed to the recent restoration of K-12 funding to pre-recession levels — a step in the right direction but “not enough if Idaho wants to reap the benefits of good K-12 education.”

ISBA members recently took a stand on Idaho’s education funding — they won’t support new state initiatives until their main priorities are met, including restoration of operational funding to 2017 levels, with inflation factored in.

“We need to get starting teacher salaries up around $40,000,” Stoor said. “It’s really hard to compete with other states if that doesn’t happen.”

When he’s not influencing education, Stoor says he likes to hunt and spend time with his wife and four children.

ISBA president John Menter said: “(Stoor’s) simply a great asset for ISBA. He’s approachable and that helps a lot when it comes to working with trustees. Really, he’s just an all-around good guy.”

The complete list of this year’s ISBA resolutions up for consideration is available online.