Stan Kress, who fought to improve Idaho schools, dies

Stan Kress was a blunt and outspoken Idaho educator, especially in the cause for improving Idaho’s aging school buildings during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Kress, 69, died Sunday. A funeral is planned in American Falls.

Stan Kress

Stan Kress

 He was the voice for better schoolhouses in the last seven years of a long lawsuit from several North Idaho school districts seeking state help when local voters would consistently refuse to pass construction bonds for new buildings.

Kress focused on lawmakers, telling them that more help was needed and that their system of relying on property taxes as a way to pay for school buildings was wrong.

“The Legislature has failed to take responsibility for honoring Idaho’s Constitution,” he wrote in a 2003 Idaho Statesman’s Reader’s View.

 He was superintendent of the Cottonwood School District, 58 miles southeast of Lewiston, during much of the battle to improve buildings in the early 2000’s

“He  had the courage to stand up to the Legislature much more than almost any educator in the state,” said Robert Huntley, a Boise attorney who brought the lawsuit.

In the end, the lawsuit was unsuccessful. But under pressure, the Legislature put about $10 million into a fund for school improvement. Some of that went to help school buildings, said Huntley.

Kress served one term in the Idaho Senate in the 1970s. He almost upset Republican Congressman George Hansen in 1976. Hansen won that race by 1,938 votes out of more than 166,000 cast. Kress ran for Congress in 1974, losing by almost 14,000 votes.

Posted in In The Classroom