Community leaders address pandemic-related challenges
“How do we maintain our community values while balancing growth?”
That was the main question that four panelists took on at the Wood River Women’s Foundation’s annual “State of the Valley” forum, presented Tuesday evening at The Community Library in Ketchum.
Jim Foudy, Josh Johnson, Michelle Griffith and Mark Davidson—representing Blaine County’s education, environment, housing and recreation sectors, respectively—each addressed the valley’s most pressing challenges, from housing insecurity to water constraints.
Education and housing
Blaine County School District Superintendent Jim Foudy said population growth in the Wood River Valley “hasn’t necessarily resulted in significantly higher student enrollment overall,” but has caused some academic challenges for new students unfamiliar with the district’s curriculum.
Foudy said a far bigger impact of growth has been a severe, districtwide staffing shortage tied to housing availability. Many prospective teachers continue to take jobs elsewhere after failing to find a place to live, he said.
“We have multiple positions that have been advertised for 15 months now and are unfilled today,” he said. “We have gone as far as to interview multiple candidates, make job offers and then have those offers declined because they’re unable to make the move to the area. Housing is a profound barrier right now … and our teachers can’t work any harder than they already are.”