McCall superintendent to lead Blaine County

Jim Foudy, superintendent of the McCall-Donnelly School District, will be the next superintendent of the Blaine County School District, trustees decided Thursday night.

“We’ve had a lot of turmoil in the last 10 years with superintendent turnover, low staff morale and too many plans and initiatives,” board member Lara Stone said. “We need to rebuild the very foundation of our district.”

Foudy replaces former superintendent GwenCarol Holmes, who had worked in the district since 2014. Her departure ended a controversial tenure, beset by a tort claim, civil rights complaint against the district and a petition calling for her ouster.

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.

Trustees praised Foudy’s “humble, calm and reflective” demeanor, his political capital and experience in McCall, where he took over as superintendent in 2015. Foudy established a K-5 reading intervention system that includes a full-day kindergarten in McCall, and constructed a new alternative school facility.

Trustee Dan Turner lauded Foudy’s experience running a successful bond campaign in McCall. Stone said she believes Foudy will advance the district’s focus on equity, and said one of his core values was “to protect people on the margins.”

“It is such an honor to be selected as your superintendent, especially considering the exceptional candidate with whom I was considered,” Foudy told trustees Thursday night. “I can’t wait to write the next chapter of your story with you, together.”

Trustees fielded 27 applications for Holmes’ job, and narrowed the search to two: Foudy and Heather Sánchez, the executive director of schools in the Bellevue, Wash., school district. Each candidate went through a series of interviews with the board and virtual forums with staff and community members.

“What I have been looking for is someone with experience in a smaller district that involves a resort community, if possible, and has enjoyed success in that job,” board chair Keith Roark said. “That’s what I have been looking for, and that’s what Jim Foudy has.”

Trustees voted unanimously for Foudy, but emphasized that their vote was not one against Sánchez, who supervised nine schools in Washington and was responsible for the district’s plans and strategic goals.

Roark called for unity among parents and community members, some of whom he said were “fervent supporters” of Sánchez.

“He has to have our support. Without that, I don’t care if he was Horace Mann, he wouldn’t succeed,” Roark sad

Foudy takes over on July 1. Foudy will be offered a two-year contract with a salary of $168,000.

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

Initially, Holmes told trustees last March she would leave at the end of the 2020-21 school year, then announced her sudden and immediate departure from the district in November.

EdNews reporters Clark Corbin and Kevin Richert contributed to this story. 

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