West Bonner trustee’s absences halt board business, again

PRIEST RIVER — West Bonner’s plan to fill two board vacancies is postponed indefinitely, following trustee Troy Reinbold’s abrupt announcement Tuesday that he is unable to attend meetings.

“At this point, we don’t know when that might be,” trustee Margaret Hall, the board’s interim chairman, told Idaho Education News through email.

In a letter to the community posted on the district’s website, Hall wrote, “Regretfully, the special board meetings tonight (17th) and tomorrow (18th) and the regular meeting tomorrow evening (18th) must be canceled. Due to a family emergency, trustee Reinbold will not be able to attend these meetings in-person or by phone. The situation requires trustee Reinbold’s immediate attention and presence and he has expressed a desire for privacy at this time.”

The three-person board — Hall, Reinbold and Carlyn Barton — was poised to choose applicants from a pool of five candidates to fill two trustee spots left vacant by the recall election. Without Reinbold, there is not a quorum.

Once Reinbold’s availability is known, the board will “move forward as quickly as possible” to reschedule a meeting to conduct the interviews and appointments, Hall wrote. “Thank you for your understanding and patience as we navigate this situation together.”

Former board chairman Keith Rutledge and vice chairman Susan Brown were recalled by overwhelming majorities in August. Rutledge and Brown were the driving force behind a number of unpopular decisions, culminating in their removal. Reinbold often voted with Rutledge and Brown. The application deadline for replacement candidates occurred Friday. Five names were posted Monday in preparation for Tuesday’s interviews.

Since the recall canvass on Sept. 7, the board has scheduled two regular meetings and three special meetings in the span of 41 days. Reinbold attended 28 minutes of a truncated meeting to declare the vacancies, but will be absent from two regular meetings and two special meetings.

Next month, Hall, Barton and Reinbold face challengers in their bids to be reelected. The current board is scheduled to meet again on Nov. 15 and Dec. 20. If Reinbold cannot attend those meetings, the appointments could be left to the new board that takes office in January.

Former trustee and recall organizer, Sandra Brower offered condolences and prayers for a good outcome, but like many in Priest River, she’s frustrated by Reinbold’s recent actions.

“I am terribly sorry that Troy and his family are experiencing an emergency. I’m also very disappointed that the business of the district is yet again stalled. Troy willfully did not fulfill his duties as an elected official last month, thus creating a new crisis within our district,” she told EdNews. 

“Our board cannot remove Mr. Durst without Troy. The district continues to pay Durst salary from the general fund without compensation from the state while teachers work without a negotiated contract. Mr. Durst said publicly that he would step down if he did not receive an emergency provisional certification from the State Board of Education, which he did not receive. However, he will not leave.

“Is the plan to hold the district hostage by not attending meetings so a quorum is not met, so Mr Durst can continue to do a job he is not approved for? Why are the parents, students and voters being ignored by trustee Reinbold and Mr. Durst? I am beyond frustrated,” Brower wrote.

The candidates

Five potential candidates submitted an extensive application packet with their petition for candidacy. The current board included seven questions about background, education philosophies, education experience, availability and personal connection to schools.

In Zone  4, the trustee applicants are Wendy Eaton and Ann Yount; in Zone 2, they are Donald Paden, Paul Turco and Brad Cossette. Idaho Education News reviewed each application and selected four topics to provide a brief snapshot of each candidate. A link to their full applications is available at the end of each candidate’s paragraph.

Zone 4

Wendy Eaton. “Public education should serve the children in the district, preparing them for college, life or a trade.” Eaton has two children and one-step child in West Bonner schools. She is currently a support representative for Classical Conversations. She has 10 years of education experience. Eaton’s complete application is available here.

Ann Yount. “Public education should be accessible to all students, regardless of any factors associated with their lives. I strongly believe that each student within our district should have the same right and educational opportunity as any other student in our country. Students should receive core knowledge and skills to help them become successful adults.” Yount has four grandchildren attending West Bonner schools; she is the owner and operator of Yount Daycare. Her volunteer experience is extensive: PTO president, years of coaching various girls’ sports and working for the booster club. Yount’s complete application is available here.

Zone 2

Donald Paden. “I believe that public education is necessary to our local community, as is a police department, a fire department and a hospital. If we as a community are to live next to each other as neighbors, we need to have a fundamental understanding of civic responsibility. Our public schools should be the place where our children learn of that civic responsibility and to accept, respect and value others in our community. Our schools should provide the educational foundation to be self-reliant, so as to not become a burden on the rest of society. We need to encourage and develop honesty and integrity in the children of our community by providing the education, training and desire to accept those responsibilities. I believe that the local community has the best understanding of what the needs are for the students.” Paden has two grandchildren in West Bonner schools; he comes from a family of teachers and he taught computer classes; Paden is retired, having spent 14 years in the military and 23 years with a trucking company. Paden’s complete application is available here.

Paul Turco. “I believe publication education is one of the oldest traditions in our country. I feel it is the best way to support the future of any community. It is a crucial entity that educates the workforce of the future. It also creates jobs and opportunities for the current local community and families. I also respect and cherish the freedom of choice for alternative education models. My wife and I feel the public education setting is what is going to best prepare our children for the future.” Turco has two children attending West Bonner schools; he is self-employed for the last 10 years in the financial and banking industry; he also has volunteer experience with youth sports. Turco’s complete application is available here.

Brad Cossette. “Public education should be the foundation of the community. All aspects of an entire curriculum and co-curriculars should be working towards goals set forth by the state, community and the board of trustees. Every student’s well being and success is the duty of their parent(s) or guardian(s) and all the personnel of the school district. The board’s role is to conduct the business of the district, listen to the community, make decisions which are legal and in the best interest of providing the highest quality education of the students of our district.” Cossette does not have children or grandchildren in West Bonners schools. He is a retired teacher with a bachelor’s in education and a master’s in administration and curriculum development. He spent 39 years with the Spokane public schools system. Cossette’s complete application is available here.

Darren Svan

Darren Svan

Reporter Darren Svan has a background in both journalism and education. Prior to working for military schools at overseas installations, he was news editor at several publications in Wyoming and Colorado. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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