The storm in the West Ada School District can be picked up on radar in every community the district serves: Meridian, Eagle, Star, parts of Boise and Garden City, and slivers of Canyon County.
What we conclude from looking at the forecast for Idaho’s largest school district is that not much good can come from the bitter battle between the district’s Board of Trustees and those who headed up the recall effort.
Our best hope is that those involved can put aside raw feelings and focus on limiting the collateral damage to students, families and the district as everyone attempts to navigate this toxic process.
As we await a March 9 hearing about whether the recall effort — now slated for a vote on May 17 — has met all of the proper thresholds to continue or whether those seeking the recall may have to regroup and shoot for a date in August, we have some observations.
Since all of the parties involved in this mess have ceased talking to each other — a horrible example for the students, parents, teachers, administrators and community leaders who have to deal with the collateral damage — we can only hope for the maximum transparency in efforts to appoint a trustee to replace Julie Madsen, who resigned Feb. 19.
The board failed in its initial go at this by calling a meeting for Feb. 22 to consider Madsen’s resignation and possible replacement. That gave nobody in the district the opportunity to assess what was going on or what was about to happen. Fortunately, that meeting was called off.
We are happy to see that the remaining board members facing recall — Carol Sayles, Russell Joki and Tina Dean — seem willing to slow down the pace and open up the selection process, as early as the board’s next meeting, which is Tuesday.
With four trustees, the board has enough members to conduct all of its business and to vet candidates who can be presented for public scrutiny. These three trustees, along with Mike Vuittonet, carried out a transparent process when they selected Mary Ann Ranells in December as the district’s new superintendent. Ranells was selected in a unanimous vote. At the minimum, the board should follow that example.
But the West Ada board can go one better. It can emulate the process the Boise School District used to select Dave Wagers to its board in January 2015. He was chosen from among 15 candidates who were narrowed to a field of six finalists and screened over a period of several weeks. There was no rush.
And there’s no rush now. The West Ada Board of Trustees has the time to get this right. Those under recall hold a majority on the board, but there’s no reason calm can’t prevail and the good of the district and the community can’t come before politics and acrimony.
Somebody has to begin to do what’s best for the district’s reputation and its nearly 37,000 students, or the dysfunctional patterns developed over the last 10 months could have irreparable damage — on teachers and students who want to focus on learning, on parents who demand stable schools, and on taxpayers who expect reasoned, professional management.
We would remind the trustees and those seeking to recall them that prospective businesses and residents have plenty of districts to choose from as they decide where to settle in the Treasure Valley.
If school districts matter to you, why choose one in turmoil when tranquility can be found right down the road?
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