New school board members

New Mountain View School District 244 trustees Melisa Kaschmitter and Pam Reidlen, and re-elected member Casey Smith, were all sworn in Friday, Jan. 10.

GRANGEVILLE – Reclaim Idaho – or any other politically charged group for that matter – won’t be spreading its word on Mountain View School District 244 property anytime soon.

Following 20 minutes of discussion at a special board meeting Friday evening, Jan. 10, the district’s five trustees voted unanimously against Laura Embry’s request to gather signatures for Reclaim Idaho’s “Invest in Idaho” ballot initiative.

Embry had requested a small space to sit or stand prior to basketball games in January and February. Reclaim Idaho is the grassroots organization that brought Medicaid expansion to the ballot in 2018. In the end, it helped to extend healthcare to more than 10,000 Idahoans. The Invest in Idaho ballot initiative campaign seeks to invest $170 million in K-12 education. It is meant to restore Idaho corporate tax rate to 8 percent and increase the marginal tax rate on those making more than $250,000 per year.

“Normally, it’s the superintendent’s job to approve building use requests,” acting superintendent Woody Woodford said. However, due to the potential political implications, he said, the issue was brought to the board.

“Did you contact our attorneys?” trustee Rebecca Warden questioned Woodford.

He replied he had, and their advice was to follow written board policy which gives the board the leeway to consider such requests.

“This is a very political group that doesn’t fit into my views, and I would not be interested in allowing this,” trustee Casey Smith said.

Newly elected trustee Pam Reidlen said the issue the group supports is clearly related to education, and if the initiative goes through, “it could stabilize property taxes,” she said.

“I think it’s really relevant – I don’t know about their other political leanings,” she added.

Warden said she did not have an issue with the group or for what it was collecting signatures.

“However, I do feel we need to think about what precedent we would be setting,” she said.

Board vice-chair Brad Lutz agrees.

“That’s exactly my thought – where do we draw the line?” he questioned.

“What if Planned Parenthood wanted to set up shop?” Smith added.

“Well, they’re not directly related to education,” Reidlen answered.

New trustee Melisa Kaschmitter asked if the district had ever previously allowed something such as this?

“Not to my knowledge, and it automatically throws up read flags,” business manager Becky Hogg answered.

“I don’t feel it matters if we agree or disagree with what they represent,” Kaschmitter said. “My concern is, it opens the door for other groups. We also don’t want there to be any misinterpretations on what we support.”

Warden made the motion to not approve the request, which was seconded by Smith and passed unanimously.

Just prior to the motion, newly elected and re-elected board members were sworn in. Following the above vote, the board went into executive session where options were discussed for upcoming negotiations.

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