Friday, May 17, 2013

School District board of trustee election

Questions & Answers



From left, Kathy Baker and Steve Guthrie

Kathy Baker

Age: 41

Education: Associate degree in arts.

Experience in public service: PTA co-president, developer of Hailey Family Science Night, Science Instructional Materials Adoption Committee member, youth group leader, academic coach for Lego Robotics state champion team, Blaine County Recreation District coach for soccer, basketball, baseball and track.

Occupation: Community volunteer, full-time mother of three boys, and Hailey PTA co-president.

Statement on why you are running: I am running for school board to ensure our schools provide the best educational experiences for our children while maintaining fiscal responsibility to stakeholders. My experience demonstrates my ability, passion and dedication to obtaining the best education possible for all children in our community.


1. Steve Guthrie ran for school board four years ago as “a candidate for change.” In the past four years, what has changed with the school board or the district?

There have been some positive changes in the district and board. Unfortunately they have been somewhat overshadowed by distrust and financial troubles. Examples include the district’s exorbitant spending on construction instead of instruction and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on litigation instead of teachers.

2. What is your position on the Syringa Mountain School charter school proposal? Should the Blaine County School District adopt the school in the district as a magnet school, should the district authorize formation of the proposed school, or should the district leave the proposed school to its own attempt at authorization from the state?

Public school choice allows for alternative learning environments for students with various learning styles and interests. Accountability is built in because schools that effectively educate children attract students and dollars. This requires administrators to be more responsive to the community’s needs.

3. In retrospect, what could have been done differently during the past few years to avoid the litigation the district now finds itself in with McKinstry Essention?

Given the scope, complexity and expense of the projects, the district should have hired an owner’s engineer to evaluate feasibility and performance guarantees and ensure successful project execution by providing onsite construction management, which would have included validating the necessity, scope and value of change orders.

4. The district claims to be transparent. Is it truly transparent or are there still things being hidden or misrepresented to the public?

I support our schools, teachers and students. I know we have many legitimate achievements that should be celebrated. However, stakeholders’ trust is undermined when the district promotes misleading press releases like the Newsweek high school rankings. We can only improve if we acknowledge shortcomings.

5. Has the large-scale construction work that has been under way since 2010 in the district been of benefit to the students, or has it distracted the district from the goal of “students come first?”

The BCSD is embroiled in a multi-million-dollar lawsuit from a no-bid contract, which replaced, among other things, nearly new equipment at Wood River High School and Wood River Middle School with equipment with a far shorter lifespan that did not contain any guarantee of energy savings. This takes time, money and attention away from BCSD priorities.




Steve Guthrie

Age: 51

Education: Lakes High School, Tacoma, Wash.; apprenticeship in mold making, elements of design and mechanical engineering in Salt Lake City; Idaho Department of Insurance, producer licensing, study and assessment completed in Boise.

Experience in public service: Four years Blaine County School District trustee, two years co-president PTA Wood River Middle School, BCSD Strategic Plan, Planning Team.

Occupation: Friedman Memorial Airport—airport security coordinator, special projects coordinator, insurance coordinator, executive assistant to the airport manager.

Statement on why you are running: My intent for re-election is based on my strong belief that all students enrolled in Blaine County schools are provided with opportunities to succeed and become educated, respectful, compassionate and tolerant adults. Continued efforts of transparency, community engagement and the completion the BCSD’s Strategic Plan must also be a priority.


1. Steve Guthrie ran for school board four years ago as “a candidate for change.” In the past four years, what has changed with the school board or the district?

Many positive changes have occurred in BCSD over the past four years. We will have an official International Baccalaureate middle school during the 2013-14 school year. We now offer a foreign language to every student, grades 6-9. We have also added many new advanced placement and concurrent credit classes to our high school offerings, to name just a few.

2. What is your position on the Syringa Mountain School charter school proposal? Should the Blaine County School District adopt the school in the district as a magnet school, should the district authorize formation of the proposed school, or should the district leave the proposed school to its own attempt at authorization from the state?

We are supportive and want Syringa Mountain School to succeed. It’s healthy for our community to have options for families. We have a positive relationship with SMS and have provided preliminary fiscal, facility, special education and human resource advice to Syringa.

3. In retrospect, what could have been done differently during the past few years to avoid the litigation the district now finds itself in with McKinstry Essention?

No one wants to be in a lawsuit. A local public committee selected this energy savings contractor and our contract was reviewed by an attorney. In retrospect, this litigation could have been avoided if only McKinstry had followed Idaho law regarding guaranteed energy savings for the district.

4. The district claims to be transparent. Is it truly transparent or are there still things being hidden or misrepresented to the public?

BCSD has worked diligently towards transparency; we have made great strides during my term on the board. BCSD recently received an A- from the governmental watchdog agency the Sunshine Review for our website transparency efforts. Four years ago our website received a D from the same organization. We have added video streaming, community coffees and interactive work sessions, to name just a few.

5. Has the large-scale construction work that has been under way since 2010 in the district been of benefit to the students, or has it distracted the district from the goal of “students come first?”

The facility improvements are only 10 percent of the Strategic Plan. Our primary focus is student achievement. Improved facility environments benefit student achievement directly and indirectly, and we use local contractors almost exclusively. As only one example, the newly remodeled theater has clearly added to student achievement.




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