West Ada fills first school board vacancy

The state’s largest district filled one of its two school board vacancies Tuesday, appointing a software and technology manager to help fill out the panel’s ranks.

After more than two hours of interviews, West Ada trustees voted unanimously to appoint Ed Klopfenstein to the open Zone 1 seat.

Ed Klopfenstein (1)
West Ada school board appointee Ed Klopfenstein visits with Superintendent Mary Ann Ranells following Tuesday’s meeting.

Klopfenstein was one of seven candidates interviewed. After his appointment, he vowed to work closely with Superintendent Mary Ann Ranells, the school board and district staffers.

“That’s probably the one thing I would like people to know is I want to be a servant for this district and I don’t expect anything back,” Klopfenstein said.

Two board seats became vacant on May 17, when patrons voted to recall trustees Carol Sayles and Tina Dean.

Before the vote, board members interviewed candidates for Dean’s seat. Trustees will address the other vacancy later in the week.

Nine district residents submitted applications for Dean’s seat, but only seven followed through for interviews:

  • Klopfenstein, a businessman with software and tech management experience. Klopfenstein is also a member of the College of Idaho’s parents’ advisory committee.
  • Tanya Koyle, a mother of four who sits on the state’s bias and sensitivity committee working with the SBAC tests. Koyle’s career involved retail sales and management experience.
  • Jason Woodward, a local businessman who served on West Ada’s boundary committee that redrew high school, middle school and elementary boundaries to accommodate growth and expansion.
  • Andy Schuler, a software developer with an accounting degree who credits his education in the West Ada district with launching him on his career path.
  • Larry Wood, who has experience managing businesses and public agencies and believes volunteerism and service are a way to give back.
  • Brent Ho, a Boise Fire Department captain and Meridian High School graduate, who has a child in the district and another who has graduated.
  • Aaron Fuhriman, a businessman who works in credit card processing. He has five children who are attending school within the district or will be soon. Fuhriman attended Tuesday’s interview via teleconference.

Applicants Luis Fernando Mercado and Michael Long did not attend the interviews, and district leaders did not explain their absence Tuesday.

Throughout Tuesday’s interviews, Ranells appeared pleased and engaged. She smiled frequently and made eye contact with each applicant.

“Can you believe how lucky we are to have such phenomenal community members and to have such a passion to step up to the plate and serve in a volunteer way?” Ranells said after the meeting. “It makes me feel so grateful, once again, that I have come to this amazing community.”

Klopfenstein ran for school board in 2013, but finished third in a three-way race. He lost to Dean by 49 votes.

“I’ve always been watching from the sidelines, kind of curious to see what’s happening and I was actually looking to run next year,” Klopfenstein told reporters. “But the opportunity came up and I became more interested and decided to run for this.”

The three existing trustees originally disagreed on whether to fill the first vacancy Tuesday. Mike Vuittonet asked to put the decision off until Thursday, but his motion received no support from colleagues. Trustee Rene Ozuna then asked for a 15-minute break to consider the interview responses.

After that, the board reconvened and voted to appoint Klopfenstein.

Rene Ozuna
Rene Ozuna

Board chairman Philip Neuhoff, himself only appointed to the board earlier this year, said the pool of applicants was outstanding.

Neuhoff compared the district’s decision to a student fretting over whether to accept admission to Harvard, Yale or Stanford.

“So many thoughtful, good people stepped up when this district was in need,” Neuhoff said. “It says a lot about each of you. Really, I think any of you would serve well on this board for us.”

On Thursday night, the board will reconvene another special meeting at 6 p.m. to interview the four applicants seeking Sayles’  Zone 3 seat. If necessary, another special meeting will take place Friday at 12:30 p.m.

Klopfenstein and the other new trustees are expected to be sworn in June 14. Since he is filling the remainder of Dean’s term, Klopfenstein’s position expires on July 1, 2017. He told district leaders he would be interested in running for reelection next year.

“Just to put in the time and walk away from the position would be wrong,” he said.

In other action Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to renew its membership in the Idaho School Boards Association for one additional year.