How School District trustees behave, individually and collectively, either improves or damages student achievement. Three school board seats are up for election this November: Zones 1, 3 and 5. From the beginning of trustee campaigns, students and staff will be affected, for good or for bad. The candidates and the campaigns will either damage our community or build it up.

Recently, I attended the first Wood River High School mountain bike team race of the 2019 season. The National Interscholastic Cycling Association sets high expectations for sportsmanship from all involved. From athletes and coaches to parents, siblings, grandparents, friends and neighbors, sportsmanship and following the rules are required of everyone. Violations result in points docked from their team. These rules and accountability are in place for everyone to enjoy a quality competitive event undergirded by excellent sportsmanship.

At the NICA mountain bike races, athletes compete individually and as teams. There are winners and losers. There are the few standing on the podium and the many who are not. What there is not: athletes demoralized by unsportsmanlike behavior. Athletes travel home knowing they competed well and are part of a community that builds each other up. Communities affect school sports, and school sports affect their larger communities. I have learned valuable lessons from NICA.

How trustee candidates run their campaigns will have either a positive or negative effect on our students, our staff, our families, our whole community. While I am not running in this election, I encourage us all to take the high road of expecting excellent sportsmanship from each other during the competition for trustee seats. If some refuse to display sportsmanship, their actions will damage our community. Tearing down is easy, quick and destructive. Building up is slow, painful and constructive. Which path will each of us choose? Our individual decisions affect our shared community.

Candidates have until Sept. 6 to file their candidacy and must live in the school board zone. Seats up for election are Zone 1—Carey, Yale, most of Bellevue; Zone 3—most of Hailey, Croy Canyon; and Zone 5—northeast Hailey, mid valley east of Highway 75, Sun Valley. Zone descriptions and a link to an interactive, detailed map can be found on the BCSD website: Instructions on how to file for candidacy can be found on the Blaine County Election Office webpage:

I applaud everyone who chooses to run for the Blaine County School District board of trustees. Investing in our youth invests in the future of our community, for both the short term and the long term. The youth of our valley will be watching the campaigns, how the candidates conduct themselves, how current trustees behave, how the adults of the community behave. What will they see? What will we be modeling for them? What kind of community are we creating?

Ellen Mandeville is chairwoman of the Blaine County School District board of trustees.

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