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Congratulations to the winners in Tuesday’s election, especially the three candidates for Gooding School Board.

Now, it’s time to get to work.

Earlier this year, we said the board wasn’t fit to lead a singalong, let alone a school district. We hope this new board’s first tune is “Kumbaya.”

Allow us to share this advice:

First, the board must hire a qualified superintendent who possesses a real vision for moving the district forward – and, more important, the ability to gain the buy-in, respect and confidence of the district’s teachers, parents and students. Now more than ever, the district needs a strong and trusted leader.

And it’s up to the new board to establish a proper vetting and interview process to ensure the district gains a qualified superintendent. Failure to do so was the previous board’s most egregious error.

Superintendent Heather Williams and Principal Chris Comstock resigned after lawsuits and a flurry of community-driven rumors. The board hired Mary Larson as the next superintendent, and her tenure lasted only six months. She stormed out of a closed-door board meeting in February after teachers gave her a vote of no confidence and accused her of bullying staff and strong-arming employees.

The board either didn’t bother to check or didn’t care that Larson had been fired from her previous job. That’s inexcusable. The new board can’t make the same mistakes.

Next, the new board must make a strong commitment to transparency. Like in all districts, problems are bound to arise. But no more covering them up. Many of the district’s recent woes stemmed not from the actual personnel issues but the board’s efforts to cover its own tracks. Secrecy fuels distrust and triggers rumors and lawsuits. Be open about the district’s problems, and parents and teachers will support you. Heck, they might even help solve them.

Finally, the new board must start anew with open minds. Learn from the previous board’s mistakes, but don’t dwell on them. Let this be a new era for Gooding Schools.

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There’s already strong progress being made. Longtime Kuna educator Bruce Boyd is serving as a consultant. A fresh set of eyes is just what the district needs.

And interim Superintendent Ed Simons has been a wise, calming force since he was appointed in February.

“We’re going to stress teamwork and we’re going to build trust,” Simons told the Times-News when he was appointed.

Follow this advice, and we’ll all be singing the district’s praises.


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