Friday, December 08, 2023

West Bonner names board candidates

Staff Writer | October 17, 2023 1:00 AM

PRIEST RIVER — The West Bonner County School District has announced the names of five candidates seeking to fill trustee seats in Zone 2 and Zone 4.

In Zone 2, Bradley Cossette, Paul Turco, and Donald Paden submitted applications seeking the seat. In Zone 4, Ann Yount and Wendy Eaton have submitted their names for consideration.

Candidate applications to fill the seats were due Oct. 13. The board is slated to interview candidates — and possibly appoint someone to fill the two seats at a special meeting scheduled for today or another scheduled for Wednesday.

Tonight's meeting would be held at 6:30 p.m., while the Wednesday's meeting would be held at 4:30 p.m. before the board's regular business meeting set to start at 6 p.m. West Bonner officials said the Wednesday meeting could be canceled if the board is able to conduct all of the interviews and make a decision tonight.

A volunteer track coach at Priest River Lamanna High School, Cossette said he believes public education should be the foundation of the community and that the board's role should be to "conduct the business of the district" and to listen to the community while making decisions that are legal.

Noting he is retired, Cossette said he has owned property in the community for 30 years and that he and his wife moved to West Bonner last year to make Priest River their home.

Donald Paden said he decided to apply for a position on the board because he feels his background working as the personnel manager for a furniture manufacturer gives him skills that would benefit the district. He also said public education is as necessary as police and fire departments and hospitals.

"Our schools should provide the educational foundation to be self-reliant so as to not become a burden on the rest of society," he said in his application. "We need to encourage and develop honesty and integrity in the children of our community by providing the education, training, and desire to accept those responsibilities."

Self-employed for the past 10 years, Paul Turco said his children attend the school district, and he is a long-standing volunteer in the community youth sports programs.

"I believe public education's one of the oldest traditions in our country," Turco said in his application. "I feel it is the best way to support the future of any community. It is a crucial entity that educates the workforce of the future."

Turco also said he understands the responsibility and role of the board and will take the task seriously.

Public education should be accessible to all students regardless of any other factors, Ann Yount said in her application to the board. 

"I strongly believe that each student within our district should have the same rights and educational opportunities as any other student in our country," she added.

Yount, who currently serves on the Priest River City Council, said she believes the main role of the school board is to approve and ensure board policy is implemented.

"Board members should listen to the community and work to ensure the people they represent are heard," she added.

In applying for a seat on the board, Wendy Eaton said public education should serve the children in the community and prepare them for college, life, or a trade. Like several of the others, she said she has children who attend West Bonner County and wants to help make the schools a place where they can learn and grow.

"I have been attending or listening to all board meetings this past year and believe WBCSD needs people who are listening well and vested in bringing the community together and solving problems the school district faces," she said.

The scheduled interviews follow the formal declaration of vacancies on two seats left vacant by the recall of former board chair Keith Rutledge and vice chair Susan Brown, who were recalled by voters Aug. 29. The board was finally able to formally vote on the vacancies and declare the process to appoint replacements after a several-week delay caused when Zone 3 Trustee Troy Reinbold skipped the mid-September meeting.

Reinbold agreed to appear by phone as long as the board only paid its bills and declared the two seats formally vacant earlier this month.

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