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CALDWELL — Caldwell School Board elections are somewhat quiet this year. Marisela Pesina is running unopposed in Zone 5, while Brittany Gish challenges Trish Robertson in Zone 1.

We reached out to the candidates to learn more about their views.

ZONE 1: Trish Robertson and Brittany Gish

In March of 2021, the trustee of Zone 1, Carla Suastegui, announced she would be moving out of the zone, vacating the Zone 1 seat. Prospective school board candidates who lived in the zone applied to fill the position, and Trish Robertson was appointed as the new trustee.

Robertson accepted the position knowing she’d be required to run for election in November to continue in the seat. Robertson said she is grateful for her fellow board members who have helped her navigate the “learning curve” of school board operations since her appointment in May. She was sworn in in June.

“I would really like to continue with this role as trustee for Zone 1 because I have learned so much and it’s just a foot forward in continuing to be of service to the school district,” Robertson said.

She brings a background as a licensed professional counselor, practicing in Idaho for over 30 years, she said.

So far, one of Robertson’s top priorities in the role has been mitigating the spread of COVID-19 so that the district can hold in-person classes, she said. The school district began its 2021-2022 school year with a masks-optional policy, and within 3 days after the start of school, “the number of absentees was just outrageous,” she said. The board reconvened and reinstated a mask-wearing policy for all students and staff, which has decreased the number of students having to miss school, she said.

Robertson values following guidance from local and national health experts.

“I believe in research and following the experts,” she said. “And as the experts learn more, some things can change, but it’s not because they were wrong the first time, it’s because they have learned more and we keep moving forward.”

The board is staying apprised of the local developments to determine when to lift its mask mandate, Robertson said. For example, the board would consider removing the mandate if any of the following events were to occur: the state's hospitals exit crisis standards of care, the number of COVID-19 cases in Caldwell or Canyon County decreases, or a vaccine is approved for children ages 5-11, she said.

When it comes to curriculum selection, Robertson says the much-maligned Critical Race Theory is not taught in Caldwell Schools. However, she noted that the district teaches subjects such as American History, World History, economics, and government, which can include discussions of the pros and cons of U.S. life and culture.

Brittany Gish declined to do an interview with the Idaho Press, but voters can learn more about her by reading her responses to the Idaho Press and League of Women Voters voter guide, which will be published Sunday, Oct. 24. People can also contact her with questions at brittanygish2021@gmail.com, she said.

The “About” section of Gish’s campaign Facebook page reads, “Freedom and Liberty loving voices are being snuffed out. I decided to run for the school board myself, to give mom’s (sic) like me a voice and a choice.”

ZONE 5: Marisela Pesina

In an emailed statement, Pesina said she has been honored to serve the district for the past 4 years, including as the board’s chair.

“During these unprecedented times, I want our community to know that I am committed to working with the entire school board to ensure our staff can teach and our students can learn in a safe environment, and that we plan to leverage our state and federal funds to support our families and help address learning needs during this challenging time,” she said.

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