Statesman Editorial: West Ada trustees flunk their first major test

It is a shame that longtime West Ada School District Superintendent Linda Clark resigned Friday as a result of a totally manufactured crisis.

Whatever the differences between Clark and the “new regime” Board of Trustees — as Clark referred to the them Friday in her announcement — the animosity created over the past four months overshadowed any potential trustee initiatives on behalf of students and created an increasingly divided community.

Though this new board has every right to scrutinize and question administrators about past and present procedures, and evaluate salaries and benefits, its mostly toxic public attitude toward Clark reveals a regrettable management style that will not serve trustees well going forward. Referring to any part of Clark’s contract as “profane” is not just over the top, but also inaccurate. One reasonable look at compensation packages for other superintendents with Clark’s experience and standing tells you that.

Clark, an award-winning superintendent from a highly successful district, has earned the respect of educators all over Idaho. Instead of recognizing that and working with her to do what is best for students, the board criticized her for speaking out about issues in other districts, second-guessed her wish to hire a testing director, and publicly questioned her ability to serve as superintendent and sit on the State Board of Education at the same time.

That was a silly concern, considering the key role she had on Gov. Butch Otter’s education task force.

On the sad day of her resignation — after 11 years as superintendent and 37 years serving students in the area — Clark displayed the class to advocate for the district’s upcoming levy, a $28 million, two-year measure on the Nov. 3 ballot. She did this because she knows the district’s financial needs are more pressing than any personal disappointment.

We also urge voters to pass the levy because it will benefit students, regardless of who is in charge. This is, after all, about children and their futures.

We have deep concerns about the largest school district in Idaho being without a superintendent of Clark’s caliber, which is now being managed by a group of trustees who have lost our trust — the majority of whom face a possible recall election. We advocated for a more patient, peaceful, collaborative approach from the new leaders — to no avail.

What now, West Ada School District Board of Trustees?

Linda Clark is gone.

Be careful what you wish for.

Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman’s editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email editorial@idahostatesman.com.