When College of Southern Idaho Trustee LeRoy Craig was defeated for reelection last fall, Jerome County — one of two counties in the community college district — lost its only representative on the board.
But legislation, co-sponsored by state Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Three Creek; Rep. Bert Stevensen, R-Rupert; Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, and two other House Republicans, would change that.
The bill, introduced on Thursday in the House State Affairs Committee, would require community college trustee elections to be held by subdistrict, rather than at-large as they are now.
The legislation would set up five subdivisions of equal population within each community college district starting in 2012; trustee candidates would have to live in their subdistrict, though they’d be elected districtwide.
Alternatively, large population centers — Twin Falls in CSI’s case — could be constituted as a municipal zone, in which two trustees would reside.
It’s a good idea.
All five of the current CSI trustees are Twin Falls County residents, but more than one-fifth of CSI’s property tax revenue comes from Jerome County.
Jerome County is the only county in an Idaho community college district without a principal campus within its borders, and yet it’s consistently supported the Twin Falls-based institution even though the CSI property tax has made it harder for the county, the Jerome and Valley school districts and other taxing districts within the county to get bond issues approved.
And it’s worth noting that in 1965, 88.6 percent of Jerome County voters supported joining the community college district; in Twin Falls County, it was 68 percent.
Dividing the CSI district equally in five parts would leave 19,300 people in each district, meaning that Jerome County’s 21,300 residents would likely get one full subdistrict and part of a second. The community college boards would be charged with determining the boundaries of their trustee subdistricts based on population, and have them in place by next January.
The measure would also benefit Twin Falls County communities outside the city of Twin Falls, which is where four of the five current trustees live.
Idaho school board members and county commissioners are elected from geographical districts, and that’s been the case since early in the state’s history. It’s only fair that community college district patrons should have the same right.