Adam Cotterell

News Reporter

Adam Cotterell returned to his home town of Boise, Idaho in 2007 after three years teaching university English in China. His plan was to teach high school drama and history, but in a move that almost makes him believe in destiny he took a part time job in Boise State Public Radio’s newsroom. He became a full time general assignments reporter in 2010. Adam's main focus is on covering education, but also enjoys doing all types of stories; from interviewing unique people to reporting on Boise's theatre scene.

Adam lives in Boise with his wife, daughter, and dog. He is also considered a pioneer in the art form abstract expressionist origami.

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Sequester
11:43 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Federal Government Wants Money Back From Idaho

Garden Valley is one of three school districts in Boise County. Boise County got more that $1 million from the Secure Rural Schools act last year. The biggest recipient was Idaho County at more than $8 million.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Government agencies in Idaho know they’ll be getting less money from the federal government for the foreseeable future. That’s because of spending cuts known as the sequester. Seth Grigg with the Idaho Association of Counties says every county and school district in the state has been preparing for a 5 percent reduction in future payments from the federal government.

“Nobody was prepared to have monies that they’d already collected… for them to need to return those dollars,” Grigg says.

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School Security
9:44 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Idaho School Security Task Force Has Work Cut Out For It

Idaho lawmakers last week decided not to tackle legislation on school security. The state’s Department of Education had supported it, calling it a first step toward making students safer. Improving school security now falls to the Department and its task force.  That group - made up of educators, first responders and law enforcement -started meeting in January.

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Idaho Legislature
6:47 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Idaho 6th Grader Explains Why She's Lobbying For A State Amphibian

Ilah Hickman says she likes science and wants to work with dolphins some day.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

During the Idaho legislative session, a lot of people go in front of lawmakers to make their case for why their bill or program should get support.

This session, one presentation captivated lawmakers. It came from 12-year-old Ilah Hickman, a 6th grader at Boise’s White Pine Elementary.

She asked legislators to name the Idaho giant salamander as the state amphibian.

Adam Cotterell talked with Ilah about why she decided to do this and what it was like to speak to lawmakers:

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2013 Legislature
1:32 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

10 Parts Of 'Students Come First' Now Working Through Idaho Legislature

Updated: Several measures working through Idaho’s legislature echo parts of the laws known as Students Come First. Those laws were overturned by voters last November through ballot propositions. (You can read a detailed description of what was in those here.) We’ve put together a rundown of bills that reflect parts of Students Come First which may pass or have already received lawmaker approval.

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2013 Legislature
10:49 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Idaho School Budget Dies In Political Turf Battle

Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Boise State political science professor Gary Moncrief calls what happened Wednesday in the Idaho Senate extraordinary. A plan approved by the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee, known as JFAC, died on a 17 to 18 vote.

“Usually, in fact almost always what goes to the floor from JFAC is accepted on the floor,” Moncrief says.

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2013 Legislature
1:27 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Idaho Senators Reject Schools’ Budget By One Vote

Updated 10:59 p.m. Idaho Senators narrowly missed signing off on a proposed $1.3 billion education budget Wednesday.   The 17-18 vote sends the bill back to the budget writing committee. The legislation which calls for a more than 2 percent increase for K-12 easily passed the House last week. Opponents focused on two problems in debate.

They argued providing more money to school districts for basic operations was more urgent than reversing some teacher salary cuts made during the recession. 

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2013 Legislature
5:39 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

Some Idaho Senators Want To Block The State’s Biggest Budget

Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers want to wrap up the 2013 Legislative session Friday. But one big obstacle stands in the way, the $1.3 billion public education budget, which makes up nearly half of the state’s spending. It’s passed the House and comes before the Senate Wednesday morning. And there’s a group of senators that don’t like it.

One of those is Dean Mortimer who was also one of five senators who objected when the budget writing committee passed the schools budget.

“There’s not enough flexibility for our districts in discretionary income,” Mortimer says.

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Four Day School Weeks
5:31 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Idaho Schools Switch To Four Day Weeks Knowing They Won’t Save Much Money

Credit Courtesy of the Idaho Statesman

A widely circulated article says Idaho school districts won’t save much money by switching to a four day school week. Pocatello’s Idaho State Journal cites a report called “Review of a 4-Day School Week,” which says there are minimal savings when districts switch to a four day school week.

But that story fails to point out that the report was published five years ago, in 2008. Since that time the number of Idaho districts with a four day week has tripled. For some districts even small savings were a big temptation.

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Digital Learning
3:33 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Idaho Gets A "D" In Digital Learning From Jeb Bush’s Group

Credit digitallearningnow.com

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s education foundation gives Idaho a D for digital education policy on its new Digital Learning Report Card. The Foundation for Excellence in Education advocates for increased use of technology in schools. Its new report card grades states on promoting online learning in 2012.

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2013 Legislature
8:59 pm
Sun March 24, 2013

Voter Rejected Education Laws Come Back In Idaho Legislature, Some Without Opposition

Credit Marlith / Flickr

Four months ago Idaho voters repealed three education laws through ballot initiatives. Now nearly a dozen provisions from those laws are working through the Idaho legislature or have already passed.

Idaho residents voted on three propositions to overturn the laws known as Students Come First. But the laws contained dozens of provisions on things like teacher labor relations and increasing classroom technology. Those who pushed for repeal say voters rejected all aspects, period. That’s how Penni Cyr, president of the Idaho Education Association (IEA) sees it.

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Private Schools
5:16 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Private School Enrollment Down Nationally But Not In Idaho

This life-sized statue of Jesus in the Bishop Kelly lobby underscores the fact that it is a private religious school. Nationally private school enrollment is shrinking, especially in Catholic schools. Boise's Bishop Kelly High School is growing. A school spokesperson says BK's advantage is an emphasis on spirituality unavailable in public schools, both charter and traditional.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Researchers at the U.S. Census Bureau have believed for some time that private school enrollment has been on the decline. Now Bureau statistician Stephanie Ewert says they’re sure. Her new report does not say why fewer students are choosing privates schools, but Ewert says the growth of charter schools may have something to do with it. Around the country she found that places where charters grew, private school enrollment got smaller.

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Charter Schools
7:58 am
Tue March 19, 2013

State Office Questions Success Of Idaho Charter Schools

Credit Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

A year ago, Idaho lawmakers asked the state’s Office of Performance Evaluations (OPE) to study charter schools. They wanted the office charged with assessing Idaho’s agencies and programs to determine if charter schools were meeting the goal of making the state’s public education better overall. Last night, members of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee heard the answer. Amy Lorenzo was one of those who presented the OPE report.

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Government Transparency
3:48 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Four Idaho Websites Get National Award For Government Transparency

Three Idaho school districts and a county have been honored for their websites. The non-profit government transparency organization Sunshine Review gave its annual Sunny Awards to the 247 government websites it deemed most transparent.  

The Boise, Blaine County and Caldwell School Districts made the list. Canyon was the only Idaho county to show up.

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Education Improvement Task Force
4:57 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

Idaho Education Task Force Plans Statewide Tour

Task Force members work on goals at first meeting
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s task force for improving education finished its first phase Friday. Now it goes on to phase two, public meetings. Governor Butch Otter asked Idaho’s State Board of Education to create the task force after voters overturned laws to overhaul the state’s education system.

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School Fees
7:26 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Judge Dismisses Part Of A Case Over Idaho School Fees

Robert Huntley represents the plaintiffs in Joki v. Idaho.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A judge has tossed out part of a case to change education funding in Idaho. The case, known as "Joki vs. the State of Idaho," was filed last fall alleging it was unconstitutional for school districts to charge fees for classes. Wednesday’s hearing was to decide what parts of this case could move forward.

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Levies
2:00 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Levy Votes Show Disconnect Between Idaho Public And Lawmakers On Education

Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho voters Tuesday agreed to pay more than $100 million in additional taxes over the next few years when they approved 36 new school district levies. Reliance on supplemental levies to shore up school budgets has increased dramatically since the recession spurred cuts in state funding.  

David Adler, director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State, says the legislature is increasingly shifting the responsibility to fund education to local homeowners who pay property taxes. He says Tuesday’s levy votes reveal a disconnect between voters and lawmakers.

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School Levies
4:52 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Nampa Voters Agree To Multimillion Dollar School Levy

Credit Karen Apricot New Orleans / Flickr Creative Commons

Updated 11:30 A.M.: Teachers, administrators and parents in the Nampa School District are likely breathing a sigh of relief. Nearly three quarters of voters said yes to a $4.3 million levy request Tuesday.

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Levies
11:08 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Idaho School Districts Ask Voters For More Money

School districts across Idaho are asking voters for more money Tuesday through levies. Many districts that are still recovering from years of state budget cuts say they need more help from local residents. The Payette school district, for example, may have to close a small elementary school and send its students to other district schools.  

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Idaho Leads Project
5:44 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Idaho Leads Project Celebrates What’s Going Right In The State’s Schools

Rodger Quarles at an Idaho Leads Project event in Gooding
Credit FaceBook.com/IdahoLeadsProject

Teachers, administrators, students and parents from 49 Idaho school districts gather in Boise Monday night to celebrate success stories in the state’s schools. They are members of the Idaho Leads Project. The project is part of Boise State’s Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies. It focuses on leadership with the goal of “creating high performing schools where all students succeed.”   

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Nampa Budget Crisis
10:50 pm
Sun March 10, 2013

Nampa Voters Asked To Bail Out School District

Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

We’ve been following the budget crisis in the Nampa School District since last summer. That was when the state’s third largest district revealed accounting errors had created a deficit of $4.3 million. That is also the levy amount the district is asking Nampa voters to approve Tuesday.

Since its crisis began the Nampa School District has eliminated most of the substitute teaching budget, furloughed employees, decided to sell off land. But that’s not enough. That’s why fourth grade teacher Carmi Scheller is counting on the levy.

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