Five vie for trustee position

Vacancy created by Sid Fredrickson's resignation

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COEUR d'ALENE - Coeur d'Alene school board members have five candidates to consider as they seek a new trustee to appoint to the Zone 5 seat.

The application period to apply for the position previously held by Sid Fredrickson closed at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Fredrickson resigned during the board's July 9 meeting. The appointee will complete the remainder of Fredrickson's term which ends June 30.

Candidates, who must be registered voters residing in Zone 5, include Tom Hearn, Kathleen Tillman, Shelley Woodard, Jim Hightower and Matt Robinson.

In submitting their applications, candidates were asked to provide resumes and detail their main reasons for seeking appointment as well as what their top three objectives will be if selected.

Thomas Hearn is a licensed social worker who runs a small, private mental health clinic in Coeur d'Alene, where he has lived since 1981. Hearn cited experience serving on multiple state professional boards to which he was appointed by three Idaho governors, professional experience in conflict resolution and work with troubled youth as some of the reasons he believes he is a strong candidate.

"I run a private business and know about being fiscally responsible," he stated.

Hearn wrote that he has experience establishing policies and regulations and has testified several times before the Idaho Legislature.

Kathleen Tillman, a Realtor who has lived in Coeur d'Alene for 16 years and has a long history of volunteering in district schools, wrote that her main objectives if appointed are: "To attract and retain top educators to our district; to upgrade and rebuild some of the district's older facilities; and to make our campuses safe and free of bullying."

Tillman served as president of the parent teacher organizations at Dalton Elementary and Canfield Middle schools and was active in the PTA at Coeur d'Alene High.

Shelley Woodard, a retiree who last worked as senior maintenance operator for the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department, wrote that as a trustee he would work to facilitate the continued success of KTEC, the new professional technical high school opening this fall. Woodard wrote that he would also support advanced learning programs.

"Finally, if appointed, I would like to help balance the district's mission of providing the very best education possible with the necessary fiscal responsibility," Woodard wrote. "This is a critical aspect of the job, and is in my opinion why we call board members 'trustees.'"

Woodard also wrote that his wife will be teaching at KTEC, but that he does not see this as a conflict because the District 271 board does not set the salaries and benefits for KTEC employees. Woodard stated he would decline to vote on any agenda items that may present a conflict.

Candidate Jim Hightower cites 35 years of business experience in restaurant management, including 18 years with Domino's Pizza, with a franchise in the Coeur d'Alene area. Hightower wrote that he has managed annual budgets in excess of $15 million and overseen all aspects of employee management for as many as 600 workers at a time.

Hightower wrote that he feels obligated to seek public service to help better a community that has "embraced" he and his wife. His main objectives, if appointed, would be to promote safe, secure learning environments; provide opportunities for all students, including ensuring they learn life skills like how to interview for a job and open, maintain and balance a bank account; and work to reduce "ancillary and administrative costs through efficiencies so more funds can be available for classroom instruction."

Matt Robinson, a marketing and sales consultant with a company in Spokane, wrote that he has developed private sector and nonprofit organizations.

"As a board member I would work to do more with less through technological investment, redirect administrative salaries to teachers and promote individual learning/teaching plans for each child attending Kootenai County schools," Robinson wrote.

Hearn, Tillman and Woodard indicated that they are parents of children who attended district schools.

Woodard and Hearn each mention their support of the Aug. 28 multi-million dollar bond election that, if approved by voters, will provide financing to upgrade and renovate several of the district's aging schools.

The four trustees now in place on what should be a five-member board - Tom Hamilton, Terri Seymour, Jim Purtee and Ann Seddon - will discuss the candidates when they meet at 5 p.m. Monday for a special meeting at the Midtown Center, 1505 N. Fifth St.

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