FIRTH – Teaching school board members their roles and responsibilities, Liz Killpack is in her fourth year traveling across the state of Idaho. Killpack is a board trainer with the Idaho School Board Association (ISBA).
A few of her responsibilities include teaching board members how to govern without micro-managing, ethics, strategic planning and goal- setting.
“Usually boards don’t take time to discuss what’s important in their district,” Killpack said. School districts want to give students a “total education,” but when cuts come, what does that total education look like?
“Total education” may look quite different in one district than in another district, she said.
The definition of education differs from district to district, Killpack said.
“What is the purpose of education?” she asked. “Do school districts want kids to reach their potential? Go to college? Have a career? Lead successful and happy lives?”
“Total education” for students may differ from district to district depending on a board’s priorities.
“Boards need to be pro-active rather than re-active,” Killpack said.
“It’s crucial that boards have a plan for what’s important in its district,” she said. “If those priorities have not been set, then when you’re forced to make cuts, there’s not identified areas of what’s important in that district—what to save or keep whole or not eliminate.”
Without a plan of what’s important in their district, when financial problems or lots of cuts come, cuts will be made [to the district’s budget] without a plan of what’s important to that district, she said.
There are several counties in the state that have been able to pass larger supplemental levies so their education budgets are not hurting, she said. This brings up discrepancy between school districts as the [financial] gap [between districts] becomes larger.
Killpack emphasized the need for open communication between staff, board and superintendent.
“I love being a board trainer with ISBA because I still get to teach,” she said.
As far as her personal goals she keeps on “A List of One Hundred.”
“My dad heard a motivational speaker challenge everyone to keep a list of a hundred,” she said. “My husband and I adopted it after we were married.”
The list includes personal goals, goals for family and friends.
“I think there are 130 goals on the list now,” Killpack said. “I accomplished one of my goals a couple weeks ago. I wanted to run hard enough to lose a toenail.”
“It’s a runner’s thing,” she said. Killpack was part of the Ragnar Relay in Las Vegas. It’s a 197-mile race with 12-member teams.
“We ran for 30 hours, right through the night,” Killpack said. “I ran three different legs that totaled over 16 miles.”
Killpack hails from Missoula, Mont. She is the oldest of six siblings. She met her husband, Todd, while they were students at Utah State University in Logan, Utah.
After graduating, they returned “home” to Todd’s family farm near Firth. Liz taught English for three years in Idaho Falls and two in Shelley.
With children came a change of career. Wanting to stay involved in education, Liz was appointed to the Firth School Board after a trustee resigned. She was on the Firth school board from 2003 to 2006.
During that time, she ran for and was elected to her own term of office. She was elected as ISBA Region Five vice-chairman and also served two months as chairman.
She resigned both positions (Firth school board and ISBA) after she contracted West Nile virus. “It was five months before I could walk without barfing,” Killpack said.
Killpack recovered from West Nile and is running again. She and her husband are remodeling an old schoolhouse that will become their new home next year.
“My biggest hobby is definitely my kids,” she said.
Liz and Todd have five children, Trevor, age 11, Tanner, 10, Kimball, 6, Sophie, 4, and Wyatt, 20 months.