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District 91's New Superintendent

It’s a new school year in Idaho, and Idaho Falls School District 91 has a new superintendent. Dr. Jim Shank has goals to focus on and reengage with the public and parents to support the school system. 

“Jamie Farr said it years ago, ‘The schools can’t do it alone,’ and so we have to set ourselves up in a context to be able to have those authentic types of conversations, where it is that not only I’m delivering the goals and things the district needs to do but they’re providing us that input as well,” Shank said. 

Dr. Shank will have a series of “State of the District” addresses to keep the community up to date on what’s going on in the district. The first one is September 21 at Idaho Falls High School. 

“We’ll do several of those throughout the fall, and the intent there is to talk about where we’re at, where we want to be, and what we’re going to do to get there,” Shank said. 

He said the most prominent concern parents have is for their kids to be physically in school. As the superintendent, Dr. Shank is tasked with maintaining a balance on a razors edge between the parents and teachers loving or hating his decisions. 

District 91 has about 10,000 students and 1,600 staff. Absences in both areas are not currently a problem. At the time of the interview, Dr. Shank said there were only four or five reported cases of COVID-19 in the district, and all were anticipated to come back in a week or two. There is a response plan for whatever will come, and Dr. Shank is hopeful that community infection rates will mellow out. 

This year, Dr. Shank said he’s most excited for the learning process and to see the students grow and develop. With Idaho’s $1.4 billion tax surplus, he hopes that education programs can get a piece of that pie. He is optimistic about this year’s potential. 

Join Dr. Shank tomorrow on a Facebook live chat here.