The St. Maries school board will decide between two local women to fill a vacant trustee position for Zone 5.

The district has received two applicants for the position –Jody Terrell and Sara Sexton – as well as several who have expressed verbal interest but have not filed paperwork. Ms. Terrell is a retired college professor from the University of North Texas, and Ms. Sexton is the serving treasurer of Benewah County. The board will begin the interview process Aug. 29. While a date was not set for when a decision would be made, the trustees expressed their intent to select a candidate shortly afterward.

The interim trustee will not have long to settle into office before facing a full election. Three trustees for zones 3, 4 and 5 will be up for election Nov. 5, and should and interim Zone 5 trustee be selected before them, they will serve only a short time before a permanent trustee is elected.

“That person may just hold the position until January,” Mrs. Holthaus said.

In addition to the vacant seat left by Devon Barta, who resigned from the position after moving out of zone 5, Trustee Mark Reynolds and Vice-Chair Sandy Kennelly will be up for re-election at this time. The filing deadline for all candidates to enter their names for consideration is September 6. The current two applicants have not signaled their intention to run for the permanent position at this time.

“We recommend that if it your intent to seek election that you complete the forms, obtain the signatures of ten qualified electors who live in your trustee zone, and submit the same to Clerk Robinson before August 23,” Mrs. Holthaus said. “That will give her ample time to check with the Benewah County Elections Clerk to make sure that your declaration and petition are properly completed.”

All applications can be sent to the district office in St. Maries. For more information, call 208-245-2579.

• • •

Trustees successfully ratified a negotiated agreement between the district and the St. Maries Education Association. The agreement sets the salary schedule for the 2019-2020 school year, which begin teacher compensation at $38,500 annually – an increase of $2,700 from the 2018-2019 school year.

The district’s proposal added a salary bonus for teachers who have completed more than 15 contiguous years at the St. Maries school district. The bonuses begin at $400 per year and top out at an extra $1,000 per year for teachers who have been with the district for more than 30 years.

In addition, the district adopted a teacher-requested duty-free lunch policy to compensate teachers for time spent serving lunch. Teachers who are assigned to lunch duty 22 times during a school year will receive one personal leave day from the district as compensation for their time.

The start of teacher negotiations were delayed this year after voters initially rejected the school district’s supplemental levy in March. The levy passed during a second election May 21, and negotiations were concluded quickly between July 3 and July 15 after two meetings.

“I’d like to commend the parties for having a good and productive discussion,” Mrs. Kennelly said. “It’s very helpful when we all just come to the table and have a conversation rather than just posturing. It’s a good process here.”

• • •

The St. Maries school district will transfer more than $100k in unspent funds to partially pay for a new roof at the middle school next year.

“Through fiscal responsibility and some good luck, we have $128,000 we’d like to transfer out of our general fund and into our plant facilities fund.”

The extra funds were freed up by a variety of factors, including policy changes, the elimination of substitute teacher programs, the departure of some teachers in the district, unspent professional development money, unexpected extra funding from the state and from property taxes.

“This is the whole district working hard to make this happen,” Trustee Mark Reynolds said.

Rather than leave the money unspent, the district suggested the funds be rolled into a plant facilities fund for the 2019-202 school year. Ms. Holthaus said that, after discussions with Maintenance Director Joe Gilmore, she recommended the money be used to replace the roof on the St. Maries Middle School, which is reaching the end of its life.

The roof was one of the items identified in a plant facilities levy, with an appraised cost of $195k-$230k to replace it.

“We’re not going to be able to do this to take care of all of those things,” Mrs. Holthaus said. “There’s a long list of things that we need to take care of. We worked hard and we got lucky, and in this case we can take a chunk out of the roof, but we will need to find some funds to take care of our facilities.”

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