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County commissioners to appoint school board trustee

by KAYE THORNBRUGH
Staff Writer | May 25, 2022 1:00 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Kootenai County commissioners will meet today to appoint a new trustee to the Kootenai Joint School District board of trustees.

The special meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the Kootenai County Administration Building, 451 N. Government Way.

Commissioners will interview two candidates, then choose between them. The candidates are former Coeur d’Alene School Board trustee Tom Hearn, who moved out of Coeur d'Alene in 2019, and business owner Janelle Bertsch.

The Kootenai School Board has reportedly had a vacancy since January.

Under Idaho law, when a vacancy occurs, the remaining trustees vote to appoint someone to the seat.

That’s easier said than done in a zone covering Harrison, which had a population of fewer than 300 people in 2020.

“It’s a struggle in rural areas to get someone to come forward and apply,” said trustee Ellie Getchius.

Just one person from the vacant zone applied, but the board voted 3-1 against the appointment.

After 90 days, Idaho law allows trustees to open applications to the entire school district.

The board reportedly received Hearn’s application in April but waited to interview him in order to allow more time for others to apply.

If a school board seat remains vacant for 120 days, the Board of County Commissioners is required by law to appoint a trustee to the vacant seat.

Getchius said the trustees are glad the county commissioners have stepped in to fill the position.

“We’re happy we’ve got such good candidates,” she said.

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