Term limits are about the last thing voters need in the Plummer/Worley Joint School District.
After all, the district has been trying for years to find a school board member - any school board member - for its northernmost zone.
The district has been advertising for the position all year. It’s been on every school board agenda.
School board clerk Karen Stockdale asks every patron she meets from that zone to sit on the board.
Interest seems non-existent. Most of the homeowners are summer residents or retirees.
“I can’t really remember the last person who filled that position,” said school board chairwoman Kathy Kolar, who has served on the board for five years.
Last week’s election drew only 74 voters for the three open seats. Nobody voted in Zone 1, the perpetually unrepresented zone that stretches from outside Worley, to just past Fighting Creek.
“You can see the difficulty in getting people to serve,” Kolar said. “If they’ll serve 20 years that’s better than not having anybody at all.”
Besides, she added, it takes about five years for a school board member to understand school finance and other technical issues that board members face.
The board managed to appoint Bev Hammond, mother of five and a full-time electrician working in Spokane, to the position.
After doing it for two months, Hammond found it too hard to fit in her busy schedule.
“It was just a lot more than she felt she could handle,” said district superintendent Bob Singleton.
Although frustrating, the vacancy is not debilitating.
Because of consolidation five years ago, the Plummer/Worley school board has seven members, two more than most school boards.
Kolar usually doesn’t vote, which eliminates the problem of tie votes. Everyone usually votes the same way anyway.
“We’re not an at-your-throat board,” Kolar explained.
The school board has discussed redistricting, changing the organization from seven zones to five zones.
Bonner County School District spent about $7,000 on engineering, advertising and an election to realign its zones a year ago.
That kind of money is precious to Plummer/Worley schools, which already are making cutbacks to prepare for a loss in state funds.
The state has paid the small district $300,000 a year as an incentive to consolidate.
That income runs dry in two years.
With few complaints from patrons in Zone 1, a lack of divisiveness on the board, and the anticipated expense of redistricting, it doesn’t seem worth it, school officials said.
“It hasn’t created any problems as far as the district is concerned,” Singleton said.