Your Agenda Is Showing
by Anne Chamberlain
Trustee Hall Misleads
At last Wednesday’s West Bonner County School Board Meeting, Trustee Hall proved that she places the agenda of her Priest Lake cronies (most notably Shawn Keough) above the best interests of the school district.
In the meeting Trustee Hall misled both the Board and the public about Idaho State Code and the procedure for negotiation of personal service contracts for public entities. Title 59-514 of Idaho law clearly states that such contracts are to be made public within 15 days of entering into them. Hall even went so far as to tell the Board and the crowd that the LPOSD negotiates their individual personal service contracts in open public meetings. They don’t. The LPOSD Board negotiates its superintendent and similar contracts in executive session, like it’s supposed to.
Handling personnel issues is what executive sessions were created for. In fact, not using them to do things like negotiate personal service (employment) contracts and instead doing so in open public meetings releases what is classified as privileged information and opens the District up to risk of being sued. But trustee Hall didn’t care about opening up the district to that risk by doing the wrong thing.
All she cared about was trying to make a circus of yet another school board meeting to protect her friends who have run the district into a sorry state with nepotism, a lack of professionalism, and a lack of financial accountability. Shame on her.
Bullying the People of West Bonner County
We should be thrilled that our conservative board members Rutledge, Brown and Reinbold had the courage to stand up to the liberal cabal that has been failing our children and our district for years now. That group has bullied West Bonner County for long enough. Threatening to shut down businesses that don’t display pro-levy signs, threatening physical harm to people’s families, and driving out good people who want to help our district heal and grow like Jackie Brannum isn’t acceptable. It doesn’t represent Priest River, West Bonner County, or North Idaho values. But that’s no surprise. If you look at their behavior in the board meetings, it’s much more like their Antifa buddies than real Idahoans. You are who you hang out with.
In a recent Facebook post, one of the leftist Priest River ringleaders practically screamed: “Any person who thinks Pride flags should be banned should not educate children.” She was making reference to our newest school district superintendent, Branden Durst.
Whoops! Your agenda is showing.
The vast majority of our district thinks that school is no place for the sexualization of children with a “Pride” agenda. After all, they say pride is the deadliest of sins.
Also, superintendents don’t educate children, teachers do that. The job of a superintendent is defined in Idaho law to “be the executive officer of the Board of Trustees.” It’s not a job that requires the same skillset as being a teacher, nor the same functions. Don’t equate them.
Budget Designed to Deceive People?
The most recent West Bonner County School Board budget meeting was mostly just shameful. The long list they published of seemingly random account names with balances that also seemed completely random couldn’t pass for a budget in any legitimate business. There were no designations of what were estimations of payables and what were estimations of receivables. Heck, they didn’t even have any dates in the document. Really, it’s that bad. Go look for yourself, it’s on the district website.
There were no projected cash flows. In fact, there were no projections at all. It’s almost like it was designed to deceive people. Either that or whoever put it together is totally incompetent. That’s the budget they produced while Susie Luckey was the interim superintendent.
It’s frightening that Margaret Hall and Carlyn Barton and the pro-levy gang were actually asking for an almost 60% increase in the levy based on that pile of nothing. Thank goodness we voted the levy down. And thank goodness the school board hired an actual professional in Branden Durst to sort that mess out. He was the one bright spot in the whole meeting and was the only one on the administrative staff that knew what he was talking about. Now maybe the district’s children will get an administration that cares more about them than keeping their own relatives in high paying jobs.
Trustee Hall Fighting Against Accountability
It’s no secret that our West Bonner County School district has been failing our students and in doing so has been failing our entire community. And if we really want to do right by our students and community, we have to admit that failure and make some changes to the way things have been getting done. Most of us recognize this and welcome progress towards cleaning house but it still seems that an angry group of Democrats who has teamed up with radical leftist activists like Colin Day is desperate to keep doing things the same way that hasn’t been working – ever increasing levies to pay for a district administration that is long on salaries and short on quality educational results for the children.
Unfortunately, at last Wednesday’s regular school board meeting we got to see a full-on display of how this small radicalized group out to protect itself from accountability can try to stall the improvement of an entire school district that desperately needs a new way of doing things. Margaret Hall led the charge in fighting against the school board engaging an independent outside counsel. It’s hard to believe, but she did. There are no legitimate reasons why a school board should refrain from hiring and retaining independent counsel. None. This mafia has become so desperate to cling onto power (and the money flows from our taxes) that they’re starting to say the quiet part out loud.
Questions That Need Answers
Some in Priest River have been driven to fear of change by all the misinformation being spread by Democrat-backed political groups and radical leftist activists that popped up from out of the district to get involved and whip up a frenzy of negativity about Branden Durst and our elected school board, groups like Idaho Moms and activists like Colin Day and the Boise based social media influencer Socialistlyawkward.
Yes, we literally have self-identified socialist outsiders who also pushed Emily Drabinski’s “queering of our libraries” agenda in Sandpoint trying to influence who our elected school board chooses for its superintendent.
We should be asking ourselves why. Why were Democrats and socialists from Boise so invested in making sure that Branden Durst didn’t get the job? Why are they lying about his qualifications?
Why are a small but very aggressive minority of our district working with the self-identified socialist outsiders to keep a few families in control of the district and its finances?
Why did they drive Jackie Brannum out with harassment and an organized revolt? Why are they running a campaign to get the only two board members who voted “no” to a 57% levy increase recalled?
Why are they fighting so hard against the change that our school system desperately needs to serve the children of our district properly?
The answers to those questions may be ugly, but we have to ask.
Just over a year ago Bonner County voted almost 2 to 1 to elect Branden Durst as the Republican nominee for Superintendent of Public Instruction for the entire State of Idaho. If you consider that the liberal precincts in Sandpoint had much higher vote totals for his opponent Debbie Critchfield than the rest of the county, it’s likely that Branden’s margin of victory in West Bonner County was even greater than 2:1.
Given those facts, it strikes me as funny that the small cadre of last year’s Critchfield supporters in our district could bring themselves to believe that our community wouldn’t be absolutely thrilled to have a man that we overwhelmingly thought was best qualified to be the Superintendent for the whole State of Idaho come and dedicate himself to a much-needed turnaround of our own school district. That seems way out of touch with the community that the Critchfield supporters claim to represent, or just plain unsympathetic to the actual values of Bonner County (and especially the western half of it), or maybe both.
In any case, like most of the district probably feels given our votes for Mr. Durst last year, I am very thankful that he has decided to dedicate his time and skillset to help us put our school district on track towards a much more successful future for the families here.
The Numbers Tell the Story
When Susan Luckey suggested that the May levy failed because voter turnout was low, she was wrong. The numbers tell a different story. Voter turnout for this last levy ballot measure was significantly higher than it was for the prior levy ballot measure, and pretty much all the increase in turnout turned out against the levy.
Like it or not (and I don’t), Mr. Durst was right about our school district. It has been failing, we’ve been losing students, and it does not have the trust of the district residents. Those are just the facts. If we ignore them and continue down the same path voter turnout will increase further, we’ll have even less of a chance of passing school funding levies in the future, and much worse, even less of a chance of improving our schools.
As Mr. Durst said, it is time for a fresh set of eyes and I’m glad our board realized that and hired him to help us fix the problems that are so evident in our district. Even Ms. Luckey stated that she would support a forensic audit (though that did seem like a change in tune). So, let’s start there, get the books in order, roll up our sleeves, and then start to come up with real solutions to the district’s problems instead of trotting out that same tax-and-spend band-aid that Democrats always push. We owe that to our children and all the residents of the district.
Media Only Giving One Side of the Story
I find it very interesting that the promoters of the West Bonner County School Board recall campaign officially launched it almost immediately after the Board announced the planning meeting for the forensic audit of the district. I also find it interesting that the recall is against the two trustees who voted the levy down.
What’s even more interesting is that the Bonner Bee has a story on that while totally ignoring the solid evidence that people working for those same supporters of the recall submitted fraudulent documents to the Idaho Board of Education that might have even been forged. It seems that they’re also ignoring that one of the leaders of the recall effort has enough family members working for the district that the levy likely would have put an additional $100,000 per year in their pockets (or more). And it would seem that they’re ignoring the proposed 2024 Budget that in nothing more than a multiple page list of almost randomly chosen accounts with balances and no dates to track them.
Seems as if certain newspapers are only giving us one side of this story (the fake one) and are helping to hide all the things we really need to know.