Trustees plan to protect their nonpartisan elections

Idaho school trustees believe their races should not share space on ballots with partisan races for president, governor, Legislature and Congress.

Coeur d’Alene Sen. Mary Souza disagrees.

The Republican lawmaker supports consolidating elections in an effort to improve voter turnout. She has sponsored bills to move school board elections from May of odd-numbered years to November in even-numbered years.

Karen Echeverria, executive director of the Idaho School Boards Association

Souza will likely take another run at an election consolidation bill during the 2018 legislative session.

“There is a fear Souza is going to beat us on this so we should start playing offense instead of defense,” said Karen Echeverria, the Idaho School Boards Association’s executive director.

Trustees will discuss and vote on the issue next week during their business session at the 2017 ISBA annual convention. The three-day event begins Wednesday at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.

The problem is trustees are divided over what’s the best “offense” to take against Souza’s consolidation plan. Some trustees want to keep the May election date. Others would consider moving elections to November of odd-numbered years — but not even-numbered years — if newly elected trustees begin their terms Jan. 1.

“It’s going to be a close vote,” Echeverria said. “It will depend on the floor debate.”

Trustees will have the opportunity to debate 14 proposed resolutions during Friday morning’s business session. The proposed resolutions that pass the membership will make up the ISBA’s legislative platform for the next two years.

“We’re concerned about 14 resolutions and how that’s possible for us to be successful at,” Echeverria said. “We’ll have to start prioritizing.”

Many of the other proposed resolutions are related to Idaho’s teacher shortage and ideas for getting more teachers into the classroom. Echeverria said trustees may “punt” on some resolutions and wait for outcomes from the State Board of Education and its attempts to seek solutions.

ISBA’s leadership board recommends whether proposed resolutions should or should not pass the full membership. The board had no recommendation on the resolutions tied to the teacher shortage. “We’ll probably wait on those,” Echeverria said.

The agenda for ISBA’s three-day event includes workshops, planning meetings, business sessions, awards banquet and the election of officers. More than 450 trustees, clerks and school administrators have registered for the event.

One of the scheduled workshops is a candidate forum for those running for state superintendent of public instruction. Superintendent Sherri Ybarra and her GOP challenger Jeff Dillon are both scheduled to appear. They will square off in a Republican primary in May.

Another workshop is a candidate forum between GOP Republican governor candidates.

Click here for summaries of the 14 proposed resolutions.

Click here for a schedule of events from the annual convention, which begins Wednesday.

Check back at for coverage of this event. 

Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over two million pageviews a year. Jennifer has more than 35 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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