West Bonner trustees to consider Durst’s contract tonight

Updated, June 12 at 4:55 p.m., with more information on contract details. 

Branden Durst may be starting his new role as West Bonner school district superintendent as early as Tuesday. 

According to a draft contract that will be discussed at a special meeting tonight, trustees will consider granting Durst a salary of $105,000, along with perks that include a vehicle, monthly housing allowance, and district-provided meals.

Plus, the contract (if approved as is) contains a few unusual clauses:

  • One would limit the board’s ability to terminate Durst — a supermajority rather than a simple majority of trustees would be required.
  • Another would put the district on the hook to provide legal counsel for Durst and his spouse. As currently worded, the draft contract would require the district to protect Durst and his wife from “any and all demands, claims, suits, actions, and legal proceedings brought against the Superintendent for all non-criminal incidents arising while the Superintendent is acting within the scope of his employment.”

Trustees will consider paying Durst about $5,700 to start acting as superintendent immediately. That would cover his salary until July 1, when a new fiscal year starts. 

He’d then start collecting a yearly salary of $105,000, if the contract is approved.

Branden Durst

The following perks are also on the table for Durst:

  • A vehicle “for personal and official business” that is no older than 10 years and has AWD or 4WD. The district would lease “or otherwise procure” the vehicle, and pay for its maintenance, registration, insurance, and fuel 
  • A monthly housing allowance of $500 
  • A one-time relocation reimbursement of $2,000 for costs incurred for moving
  • Free, district-provided meal services
  • The ability to work remotely during school breaks

Those are in addition to traditional benefits such as sick and vacation leave days and PERSI.  

However, the draft contract is contingent on Durst obtaining and maintaining a full or provisional certification to serve as superintendent. 

Currently, Durst is lacking one requirement for becoming a superintendent: four years working full-time in a school. 

Ultimately, granting or denying Durst’s provisional certificate will be up to the Professional Standards Commission and State Board of Education. As of Monday, an application was not yet on record. 

Once the application is filed, Durst would be eligible to begin superintendent duties while awaiting a decision. 

Durst, a senior analyst of education policy research for the Idaho Freedom Foundation, is a former Republican state superintendent candidate, Democratic state lawmaker and a controversial political figure. 

EdNews will update this story with tonight’s board decision. 

Idaho Education News data analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this report.

Carly Flandro

Carly Flandro

Carly Flandro reports from her hometown of Pocatello. Prior to joining EdNews, she taught English at Century High and was a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. She has won state and regional journalism awards, and her work has appeared in newspapers throughout the West. Flandro has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and Spanish from the University of Montana, and a master’s degree in English from Idaho State University. You can email her at [email protected] or call or text her at (208) 317-4287.

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