The Blaine County School District board of trustees voted Thursday evening to offer the position of superintendent to James Foudy, currently superintendent of the McCall-Donnelly School District.
Citing his “humble, calm, reflective demeanor,” fundraising and budgeting experience, and approach to helping students “on the margins,” the trustees unanimously picked Foudy to succeed former Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes, who left the district in the fall.
Foudy was one of two finalists for the vacant superintendent job; the other was Heather Sanchez, who serves as executive director of schools for the Bellevue School District in Washington. Overall, there were 27 applicants for the position from 15 states.
“This is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made,” said Vice Chairwoman Lara Stone after the vote, a sentiment that Chairman Keith Roark later echoed.
Foudy has served as superintendent of the McCall-Donnelly district since 2015. Before that, he was the elementary principal for Donnelly and McCall elementary schools, and worked as an elementary teacher in the Boise School District. He has a B.A. in elementary education from Boise State University, a Master of Education Administration degree from the University of Idaho and an educational specialist degree in educational leadership from the University of Idaho.
The school board received “very positive” reviews of Foudy from the McCall-Donnelly teachers union and from others in the community, Stone said, adding that she believes Foudy is the best candidate to “rebuild the very foundation of our district” after years of “turmoil.”
Trustee Dan Turner cited Foudy’s experience budgeting and running successful bond campaigns in his current district, as well as his experience testifying to the Legislature on educational matters in Boise.
“The political capital that he has built in Boise is an asset we can all bank on,” Turner said. “He can play defense in Boise and offense here in Blaine County.”
Roark indicated that the board had received a significant number of messages in support of Sanchez following a virtual community forum in early January.
“There’s no question about the fact that Ms. Sanchez performed much better in that forum than Mr. Foudy,” Roark said Thursday. “She is a very polished speaker and I acknowledge her for that. But the people who [attended the forum] didn’t get the opportunity to meet those candidates face to face.”
Prior to serving as executive director of schools for the Bellevue School District, Sanchez was director of accelerated programs, choice and innovation for the Lake Washington School District in Redmond, Wash., worked as a principal in the Bellevue School District and in the Riverview School District in Duvall, Wash., and held other positions in teaching and professional development in various school districts in Colorado and New Mexico.
Sanchez has a B.S. in secondary education from Western New Mexico University, an M.S. in curriculum and instruction and a K-12 principal credential from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and a K-12 superintendent credential from Seattle Pacific University. She is in the process of completing her Ed.D. degree from Seattle Pacific University.
“[Foudy] does not have the breadth of experience that Ms. Sanchez does,” Roark said Thursday. “But what I’ve been looking for is someone with experience in a smaller district that involves a resort community if possible and who has enjoyed success in this job. That is what I’m looking for, and that is what Jim Foudy has.”
After the vote, Foudy expressed his thanks to the board and to the BCSD community.
“It is such an honor to be selected as your superintendent, especially considering the exceptional candidate with whom I was considered, Heather Sanchez,” Foudy said. “I can’t wait to write the next chapter of your story with you.”
Foudy will step into his new role on July 1.
Holmes announced in March that she would step down from her position at the end of the 2020-21 school year, with a new superintendent expected to take office in July. However, on Nov. 12, Holmes submitted her resignation, effective immediately.
Wood River Middle School Principal Fritz Peters was named interim superintendent and will serve in that role until Foudy assumes office.