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Coeur d'Alene School Board appoints new trustee

Heather Tenbrink, a mother to four CDASD students, received majority board approval after trustees interviewed finalists Monday night.
Credit: Photo Courtesy CDA Press
Newly-appointed Coeur d'Alene School District Trustee Heather Tenbrink and sitting Zone 2 Trustee Casey Morrisroe share a laugh after interviews Monday night

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Families in Coeur d'Alene School District Zone 3 have a new representative following trustees' 2-1 vote Monday night, as reported by our news partner the Coeur d'Alene Press.  

Heather Tenbrink, a mother to four CDASD students, received majority board approval after trustees interviewed finalists Monday night.

Other finalists were:

• Nicholas Lepire 

• Jen Jeanselme

• Gary Patterson

Zone 2 Trustee Casey Morrisroe was the lone opposition to Tenbrink but said he welcomed her appointment to the board.

"I was blown away with all four of you guys," Morrisroe said. "I think any of them would make fine trustees. I think it's important that we're unified, so I support Heather." 

The search for a Zone 3 trustee began on Oct. 4 after Tambra Pickford resigned. Per Idaho Code 33-504, the Coeur d'Alene School Board must appoint an individual to serve the remainder of Pickford's term through December 2023. 

In the 13 years her children have been enrolled in CDASD, Tenbrink served as Skyway PTA president for two years and treasurer for three. She also has volunteer experience in classrooms, sports and other school activities. 

"I applied to be on the school board because I have a strong belief in public education," Tenbrink said. "I am grateful to have such a strong public school system here in our community, and I'd like to help continue and even improve that tradition." 

Tenbrink holds a bachelor's degree in plant science from Purdue University and is currently employed part-time as a tax accountant. 

In her application for Zone 3 trustee, Tenbrink said her top three objectives were attracting and retaining good people, providing quality and diverse programs and preparing and planning for growth.

Zone 1 Trustee Lisa May said she voted for Tenbrink because of her goals, specifically concerning employee preservation. 

"You speak to what I believe will be the biggest issue facing the district as we move forward, and that is the recruitment and retention of teachers," May said. "As the price of homes continues to increase, we're going to have a hard time keeping and recruiting good teachers here." 

Recently re-elected Zone 5 Trustee Rebecca Smith added that Tenbrink's intentions to "bring the community members together" is what made her stand out. 

During in-person interviews Monday night, Tenbrink felt the "most pressing issue facing the district" was the "disconnect between our schools and community members who care about our schools." 

The new Zone 3 trustee said she would defer her opinions and favor her constituents' when it came to controversial topics. She believes the key "is to listen to everyone's point of view and then make a decision."

"Ultimately, we all have the same goal," Tenbrink said. "I think everyone in our community wants our children to do well in school, succeed in their future lives and be ready to contribute to our community when they graduate and move on."

Tenbrink hopes to increase district outreach to individuals who may not be "directly associated" with CDASD schools. 

As a parent, the new trustee said she is well-informed about district programs and needs. But others are not, which disadvantages the district when voters do not understand why a supplemental levy is necessary. 

"One of the things we have in our district that I was so grateful for is we have a PE teacher, an art teacher and a music teacher in every one of our elementary schools," Tenbrink said. "That is not necessarily true everywhere because you have to have the budget for that."

She also pointed out other programs like Sources of Strength and Math is Cool that benefit from levy funding. 

Tenbrink will take office as trustee for Zone 3 on Dec. 6. 

Come January, the CDA School Board will feature three new faces — Tenbrink, Zone 1 Trustee Allie Anderton, and Zone 4 Trustee Lesli Bjerke. Smith and Morrisroe will also remain on the board. 

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our news partner, click here