Otter puts Linda Clark, West Ada superintendent, on Idaho state school board

Gov. Butch Otter has named Linda Clark, superintendent of the West Ada School District, to the State Board of Education at a moment when Clark is facing increasing skepticism from her own school board.

Clark will succeed Rod Lewis, a Micron Technology executive and a lawyer who lives in Eagle. Lewis served three five-year terms that ended June 30.

“Linda Clark embodies the passion and dedication of Idaho’s professional educators,” Otter said Friday in a news release. “She has a wealth of knowledge and experience in education K-through-career and understands the importance of providing the very best educational opportunities for Idaho citizens.”

Clark, 67, leads Idaho’s biggest district, with 37,000 students. She was named superintendent of the then-Meridian School District in 2004, when it had about 26,000 students. She served on Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education, which made 20 recommendations, including boosting starting teacher pay to $40,000 a year.

Clark is respected in Idaho education circles, but West Ada trustees put her in their crosshairs in early July at the first meeting of the board with two new members elected in May. The new members voiced concerns about the prior board’s 3-2 vote in June to extend Clark’s $143,000-per-year contract for an extra year beyond the two still left on it. One of the new members also chided her for speaking publicly on education issues involving other districts.

Only one of the new board’s five current members supports the contract extension, though rescinding it would be difficult.

Clark said Friday that she will stay put in West Ada. “I think our district benefits from having administrators involved at the state level,” she told Idaho Education News.

The state board sets policy and generally oversees all public education in Idaho. It also serves as the board of regents for the University of Idaho and the board of trustees for Boise State University, Idaho State University and Lewis-Clark State College.

Clark has a bachelor’s degree from Boise State University, a master’s degree in education from the University of Idaho, and doctorate in education from the University of San Francisco. She serves on the boards of Capital Educators Federal Credit Union, the Family Medical Residency of Idaho and the Treasure Valley Community Board of St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center.

“I am humbled and highly honored by Governor Otter’s appointment,” Clark said.

Otter also reappointed Emma Atchley, a business woman and potato grower from Ashton, to a second term on the board. She is the board’s vice chair and served as chair in 2014-15.

Board members are the state superintendent of public instruction and seven citizens appointed by the governor. The citizen members receive $50 for every full-day meeting they attend, plus travel expenses.

While both Lewis and Clark are Treasure Valley residents, no law requires the valley to be represented. In fact, state law specifies that the governor appoint members “without reference to locality, occupation, party affiliation or religion.”

“There are not any formal board member districts, but traditionally, the governor’s appointments are made with consideration to ensuring that the board, as a whole, is representative of the entire state,” said Blake Youde, the board’s chief communications and legislative affairs officer.