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Wanted: NIC trustee applicants

by HANNAH NEFF
Hagadone News Network | April 13, 2022 1:00 AM

The Idaho State Board of Education is accepting applications for three North Idaho College Board of Trustee positions.

The application window for candidates to apply for NIC board seats in Zones 1, 2 and 5 opened Tuesday and will close at 4 p.m. April 25.

“I hope we can get through this process in an expeditious way and get the college back on track,” said Trustee Ken Howard.

One of the NIC trustee seats has been empty since January when former trustee Michael Barnes resigned amid concerns that he was a South Dakota resident and not living in NIC Trustee Zone 5, a requirement for him to be eligible to serve on the board.

The two other seats will be vacant May 3 when the resignations of Howard (Zone 2) and Christie Wood (Zone 1) go into effect. Howard and Wood announced their resignations last week.

Howard, a trustee for 12 years, said he appreciates the SBOE moving quickly, as a full board is required to make several upcoming decisions including selecting a permanent president for the college, setting the college’s budget for the next fiscal year, which begins June 1, and setting tuition.

The SBOE press release was posted Tuesday on the “Todd Banducci, NIC Trustee” Facebook page. Under it, the following comment was posted by “Todd Banducci, NIC Trustee - author”:

“FYI. They are moving at lightning speed to cram it down our throats!! They are trying to take it out of the hands of the voters. Pushing thru their agenda via bureaucratic fiat. Candidates?! My understanding is that they will pick 3 finalists for each zone to be interviewed. Please spread the word.”

Banducci, who was first elected to the NIC board in 2012 and has served as chair since fall 2020, spoke to The Press later in the day.

“I am dismayed by the current direction of the State Board of Education,” Banducci said. “I think their actions are based on a convenient interpretation of the statute for some to further their agenda through bureaucratic fiat.”

Banducci said he believes the SBOE should appoint just one trustee to bring the board to a quorum.

The NIC Board of Trustees is, by law, a five-member board. It must have a minimum of three trustees to have a quorum. According to Idaho Code, “Vacancies on the board of trustees shall be filled by appointment by the remaining members, but if by reason of vacancies there remain on the board less than a majority of the required number of members, appointment to fill such vacancies shall be made by the state board of education.”

Banducci said he feels the SBOE is violating the intent of the statute by stepping in to appoint all three vacancies.

“I think if you look at it in context of all the language it should be obvious that only one trustee should be appointed by them and that what they’re doing is an overreach of their authority and it's inappropriate,” Banducci said.

Trustee Greg McKenzie, elected to the NIC board in November 2020, said he trusts the SBOE to restore the board’s quorum.

“I expect all to act with integrity during this selection process instead of pushing agendas or settling scores,” McKenzie said in an email Tuesday to The Press.

Trustees Wood and Howard each said they are confident the state board will select new trustees who will put the needs of the college and community first.

“The state board does not play politics or succumb to personal agendas,” Wood wrote in a message to The Press. “They will choose citizens who will focus on the mission of the college.”

Three SBOE board officers, President Kurt Liebich, Vice President David Hill and Secretary Linda Clark, will make up an ad-hoc committee who will review applications and name finalists.

The finalists will be interviewed May 5 by the ad-hoc committee on NIC’s main campus. The ad-hoc committee will then make recommendations to the full state board, which will convene a special meeting May 6 at NIC to deliberate and select the new trustees.

Mike Keckler, chief communications and legislative affairs officer for the SBOE, said the agency plans for the interviews and the May 6 meeting to be open to the public, who may attend in person or view via livestream. Laura Rumpler, spokesperson for the college, said NIC will make certain to accommodate the SBOE as best they can.

Since Barnes’s resignation, the NIC board has been deadlocked in 2-2 votes.

The NIC board met April 6 to interview potential candidates and select one to appoint to the Zone 5 seat. The four trustees were unable to agree and make an appointment from a pool of 10 candidates.

Two days later, trustees Wood and Howard announced they are resigning from the board effective May 3.

With their exit, the board of trustees will have just two members, Banducci and McKenzie, leaving it unable to function without a quorum until the state steps in.

Wood, a trustee for 18 years, told The Press she believes stepping down to make way for new trustees is the only way to get the college back on track.

All three state board officers reside in Boise. Shawn Keough of Sandpoint is the SBOE board member in closest proximity to NIC.

The newly appointed trustees will serve until the next trustee election in November. Any person appointed must reside in the trustee zone where the vacancy occurs.

Applications should be submitted via email to the Office of State Board of Education: board@osbe.idaho.gov

Applications must include:

• A letter of interest

• Resume

• Physical address where the applicant resides

• Trustee zone number for the zone the applicant is applying

Zone 5 covers the northwest section of Kootenai County including Rathdrum, Spirit Lake, and parts of Post Falls.

Zone 2 covers most of the eastern section of the county including Athol, parts of the city of Coeur d’Alene, all the way south.

Zone 1 covers the southwest section of the county from the Spokane River south, including a section of the city of Coeur d’Alene that is west of U.S. 95.

The NIC trustee zone map can be found at nic.edu/board.

A list of all applicants’ names will be posted on the State Board of Education website after the application window closes. Three applications were received as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.

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Howard

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Wood

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Banducci

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McKenzie

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Hill

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Clark

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Liebich