Superintendent Becky Meyer says her return to the Lake Pend Oreille School District has been like putting on a well-worn baseball glove.
“It just fits,” she said.
Meyer is one of at least 12 superintendents who’ve shuffled districts or job titles this year.
Meyer started out in Lake Pend Oreille as a college and career counselor in 1994, and worked her way up to alternative school principal, high school principal and assistant superintendent. She worked in the district for 23 years.
Then she accepted a superintendent position for the Lakeland School District in 2016.
Meyer said she knew she wanted to return to Lake Pend Oreille. But when the district’s superintendent role opened in 2019, Meyer didn’t apply. She says she fell in love with the staff and community in Lakeland, and was invested in the district.
“I really was loving what we were doing in Lakeland,” she said. “We were in the middle of some great changes and I felt really attached to some of the projects and initiatives we were doing.”
One of the projects was Idaho’s first armed guards program, which was implemented in 2018. Through the project, the district hired four armed staffers to work alongside school resource officers to protect students from outside threats.
When Lake Pend Oreille’s superintendent position opened again in 2022, Meyer knew it was the right time to make the move. She applied and was hired in March, becoming the district’s first female superintendent.
Lake Pend Oreille’s five-year strategic plan expired before Meyer’s return — something she’s using as an opportunity to start anew.
The superintendent wants to develop a rolling five-year plan the district can use and add to as new ideas surface. The plan will be built around input from the community and district staff.
“I don’t want to come in and just say, well, this worked in Lakeland, so we need to do it here,” said Meyer. “I’m coming in and assessing the community and culture here.”
The superintendent’s current priorities include school safety, increasing communication within the district, remediating COVID-19 learning loss, and working with population growth in the panhandle. At the state level, she says she joins other school administrators in their concerns about low salaries for teachers and a lack of state funding for facilities.
At least 12 superintendents are new to their positions this year
Eleven other districts and charters have new leaders this year. Here’s a rundown of the changes throughout the state:
- Lisa Arnold replaced Meyer in Lakeland after serving as assistant superintendent in the district.
- Jacquelin Branum replaced Paul Anselmo in the West Bonner district. Anselmo took over as superintendent in the Kamiah district, replacing Benjamin Merrill who resigned from the position in December. Dennis Kachelmier served as interim superintendent on a part-time basis.
- Steve Higgins was hired as superintendent of the Mountain View district and started July 1.
- Jeff Blaser took over as superintendent of the Bruneau-Grandview district, after trustees opted not to renew a contract for Todd Shumway earlier this school year. Shumway took over as superintendent a year ago and transitioned to the North Gem district this year.
- Patricia Frahn was promoted from principal and CTE coordinator to superintendent at COSSA, a public school cooperative providing career-technical education, special education and alternative schooling to five rural districts in western Idaho. Micah Doramus, former Special Education Director at COSSA, took over as superintendent in the Notus district.
- In the Payette district, former business education teacher Brad Baumberger replaced Robin Gilbert, who retired.
- Troy Easterday, a former science teacher at Hagerman High School and the College of Southern Idaho, replaced Chris Born as superintendent of the Salmon district.
- At Idaho Arts Charter, longtime Colorado educator Ed Longfield replaced executive director Jackie Collins, who’s retiring after 17 years at the school.