In praise of school board members

As a former school superintendent, I want to express my sincere appreciation to our dedicated Idaho school board members. During my 23 years at the helm, I had the privilege of working with 30+ school board members in two different districts.

From the beginning of my tenure, I was impressed that these selfless individuals would diligently serve without compensation and far too often without any thanks from their community.

Board service requires significant time away from family, hard work, a great deal of “onboarding,” learning new and varied responsibilities, and working cohesively with other board members and a superintendent.

Board members often must wrestle with very challenging political and economic concerns. They face the arduous task of balancing the budget on meager state allocations, holding “popular” bond or levy elections, settling contentious negotiations, dealing with controversial political issues, addressing difficult personnel matters, and sensitively working with serious student behavior problems.

As superintendent, I appreciated the diversity of professional backgrounds and perspectives that board members brought to the table. I had the privilege of working with homemakers, farmers, attorneys, medical doctors, accountants, realtors, professors, dental hygienists, nurses, and small business owners.

Though we did not always agree on every issue, I felt this wide array of perspectives brought real strength to our collective decision making.

I have great respect for those serving as board members. On behalf of my colleagues across Idaho, may I express my sincere appreciation for your dedicated service to our students and staff. We are all beneficiaries of your selfless devotion to public education.

Geoff Thomas

Geoff Thomas

Geoff Thomas is the former superintendent of the Madison School District and was a member of the governor's Task Force for Improving Education. He now serves as an assistant professor at Idaho State University.

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