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For the week of December 19 - 25, 2001


Woman named School Board's Citizen of Year

Express Staff Writer

Ritu Shivdasani, of Sun Valley, was named last week as the Idaho School Boards Association’s Citizen of the Year.

Ritu Shivdasani

A longtime activist and promoter of the Blaine County School District, Shivdasani has fearlessly button holed people throughout the valley to aid in school affairs. Beleaguered Claudia Fiaschetti, for example, was asked by the tireless Shivdasani to join the Blaine County School District Board of Trustees — within just five days of moving here with her husband and three children. She is now vice chairperson of the board.

That button-holing episode was just one in years of many such moments of cajoling, calling, raising money and supporting the school system in the valley, Fiaschetti said.

Fiaschetti announced Shivdasani’s award last week at the monthly Blaine County School District School Board meeting in Hailey.

Shivdasani, born and raised in Bombay, India, moved to Sun Valley in 1979 when she married Suresh Shivdasani, a former Ketchum resident.

The ISBA is a non-profit organization that serves as a statewide advocate on behalf of public education and children.

Eight years ago, along with Mike Chatterton, the school district treasurer, she helped to form the Blaine County School District Education Foundation, for which she served as the first president. In eight years, the foundation has been responsible for raising over $2 million for the schools.

Among her other successes she served as the chairperson of the Legislative Action Committee, which helped to ensure and increase funding in the Blaine County School District.

Shivdasani also helped develop the Parent Organization at the middle school, and she runs the same organization at the high school, where her younger daughter, Pia, is a student.

The school newsletter is another of her organizational duties, as is organizing parent volunteers along with Sue Woodyard.

She admits to being "Pretty much at the high school every day."

She helped to implement the Academic Excellence Awards given to a student with a 4.0 grade point average. "I got a committee together to look into what we really wanted to do," she says.

Another award she helped begin is the Student of the Month award, for recognition of students selected by their teachers. Shivdasani was instrumental in convincing local businesses to donate small rewards, such as movie tickets and gasoline, to the students.

Fiaschetti said "all have benefited from her efforts."

One wonders what she’ll do when her daughter graduates next year. Will she stay on to volunteer and help in the schools? "At that stage I would be interfering," she says with a lilting laugh.

And does Shivdasani still enjoy Sun Valley? "It’s my home," she says simply.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.