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Blaine County Residents Look Ahead To New Year With New School Board

Rachel Cohen/Boise State Public Radio
Blaine County School Board candidates Alexis Lindberg (left), Keith Roark (center) and Lara Stone (right) speak at a candidate forum put on by a parent-teacher association. Candidate Amber Royal Larna was not present.

Over the past year, the Blaine County School District has been at the center of controversies.


In April, two now-former students jointly sued the district for alleged free speech violations. In one of those instances, the student liaison to the board said some concerns she presented to the members were redacted in her report to the board. A hearing for the case is set for January of 2020 in a Pocatello District Court.

Later, Shannon Maza, the district's former human resources director, and current trustee Rob Clayton each filed tort claims against the district, the Idaho Mountain Express reported.

In June, a citizens’ group organized a forum criticizing the district and Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes that resulted in a petition for her firing. While more than 1,000 people signed it online, the petition failed.

And as recently as this week, school board trustee Kevin Garrison resigned after a DUI charge.

Now, residents are looking ahead to January when three of the five board seats will be filled by new trustees, as none of the trustees currently holding those seats are running for re-election. There are four candidates running for the three open seats and two of the races are unopposed.

At a meeting put on by a parent-teacher association this week, candidates Keith Roark (Zone 3), Lara Stone (Zone 5) and Alexis Lindberg (Zone 1) talked about increasing transparency. Amber Larna has also filed to run for the Zone 1 seat, but was not present at the meeting.

“The communications have never been worse between the school district and the patrons than they are right now," said Roark at the meeting.

The candidates all said they would increase communication between the board, teachers and the public. 

Superintendent Holmes said she hopes the new board will work more collaboratively.

“One of the things I hope they can help up with is unify us more as we work on this because this is very hard work," Holmes said.

Holmes also said some of her priorities include decreasing the achievement gap between Hispanic and white students and keeping the district’s finances in check.

The trustee candidates said re-establishing public support of the board is important as levy projects are on the horizon.


Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen  

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.

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