3 new members elected to Hayden School Board
Three new members were elected to the Hayden Board of Education on Tuesday after a high-interest election that saw seven candidates vie for three seats on the five-member board.
Kevin Kleckler, Alicia Doolin and Ryan Wattles — who campaigned together — were elected to the board after leading with 577, 459 and 415 votes, respectively.
“I am humbled in the fact that for something I spent my whole life doing that people still believe that I have something to contribute,” Kleckler said. “Myself, (Wattles) and (Doolin) said, ‘Hey, let’s support each other, … Let’s make a difference for our kids.’”
Wattles, part of a longtime ranching family around Hayden, said he also was gratified to be chosen by a community he has been a part of his whole life.
“I’m incredibly humbled to have the support of the town,” Wattles said. “I’m excited to start to get to work and just start working with the administration and other school board members.”
The overhaul of the board comes as teacher retention has been a significant issue for the district, sparking an outcry from parents at a board meeting earlier in the year. Doolin was one of those parents, and she said the slate that was elected will bring their experience as parents to the board.
“It will be nice to be a parent with children in the school district and have that experience from volunteering and being in the classroom and bring that experience to the school board,” Doolin said.
Incumbent board members Timothy Frentress Sr. and Aden Morrison were defeated Tuesday, collecting 360 and 191 votes, respectively. Kevin Copeland earned 303 votes, and Robbie Leech garnered 88.
Wattles said the first thing the board needs to do is get board together and become familiar with each other, especially since three of them will be new.
The newly elected candidates were elected to four-year terms, and each said four years from now they hope the issue of retaining teachers is no longer the district’s most pressing issue.
Kleckler, who has taught in the district for nearly 30 years and has been critical about how the current board deals with staff, said he wants to find a way to honor and respect the district’s employees.
He also hopes the district is able to become one of distinction, a designation officials have been pursuing for years but has always remained just out of reach.
“I hope that we are not talking about teacher retention anymore,” Kleckler said. “I want to be talking about academic excellence and more offering for the whole child.”
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