Kevin Richert

Idaho Education News Reporter

Kevin Richert is an education reporter with Idaho Education News, a nonprofit news source focused on education policy in Idaho.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

In August 2006, then-Gov. Jim Risch promised Idahoans $260 million in property tax relief.

He did deliver a tax cut to property owners.

But he did not deliver Idahoans an overall tax cut, according to an in-depth Idaho Education News analysis.

Instead, in 2015-16, Idahoans paid an additional $21.7 million for K-12 than they would have paid under the old tax structure — mostly because they now pay a higher sales tax. 

Idaho Ed News

It didn’t take long for former Gov. Jim Risch to remind me how I was earning a paycheck 10 years ago.

In August 2006, Risch was midway through a seven-month stint as governor, and brokering a deal to slash Idaho property taxes.

I was editorial page editor at the Idaho Statesman at the time — and our editorial board came out against his plan to eliminate $260 million in public school property tax levies, and use a $210 million sales tax increase to make up most of the difference.

Idaho Ed News

Gov. Butch Otter is standing by his numbers, in an ongoing dispute over transgender student policies.

Otter maintains that the Obama administration’s transgender student guidelines jeopardize about a third of the state’s education funding.

Idaho Ed News

Accusing the White House of “an incredible overreach,” Gov. Butch Otter’s staff attorney has urged a federal court to put the brakes on guidelines designed to protect transgender students’ rights.

But in a 34-page legal brief, filed Friday, Otter attorney Cally Younger appears to greatly misstate the potential fiscal impact of the federal policies.

Idaho Ed News

Slightly more than 25,000 Idaho elementary school students were reading below grade level, according to statewide test scores from this spring.

As sobering as those numbers sound, they also represent a snapshot. In the fall of 2015, more than 36,000 students were not reading at grade level. At the end of the school year, two-thirds of these students remained below grade level. But over the course of the school year, teachers and schools helped 11,000 students pull their reading skills to grade level.

Idaho Ed News

Three Idaho charter schools run the risk of a midyear financial collapse, and are on notice with the state.

Idaho’s Public Charter School Commission has issued notices of fiscal concern to Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center in Blackfoot; Syringa Mountain School in Hailey; and The Village Charter School in Boise.

Idaho Education News

The 2015 Disneyland measles outbreak stretched into Utah — but never crossed the border into Idaho.

Idaho Education News

Over several years, more than $2.3 million in federal grants went to Idaho charter schools that later closed their doors.

The grants came from $1.8 billion in federal programs designed to provide startup dollars for charter schools. And the U.S. Department of Education concedes the grant recipients include more than 400 failed charter schools.

Texas is filing a lawsuit over the Obama administration’s transgender student guidelines.

Ten other states are supporting the lawsuit, Reuters reported Wednesday. Idaho was not on that initial list, but will support the Texas lawsuit.

“We still plan to participate and are working on an amicus brief in support of the states listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit,” Mark Warbis, a spokesman for Gov. Butch Otter, said Wednesday afternoon.

Idaho Education News

Idaho school districts could be out close to $2 million, as a result of the latest Idaho Education Network budget snafu.

Fifty-seven of Idaho’s 115 school districts now stand to lose out on “e-Rate” money — federally administered dollars collected from landline and cell phone bills. The districts were counting on the e-Rate dollars to cover a share of their technology costs on a host of projects.

Idaho Education News

The state has received another round of bad budget news stemming from the defunct Idaho Education Network project.

But it’s not immediately clear how big the problem is this time, and what it could mean for schools across the state.

Idaho Education News

Some anecdotes are harrowing.

A few years ago, refugee students were encouraged to take part in a quilting project, creating a square depicting their home country. Aiham Taliv, a refugee from Iraq, prepared an illustration of his village — while, overhead, a helicopter opened fire. The quilt, including Taliv’s illustration, went on public display.

“We’re wanting (the community) to understand what their kids’ lives were like. … But it’s also a healing process for these kids,” said Bill Brulotte, the local school district’s federal programs director.

Idaho Education News

Twin Falls’ refugee program brings together students from diverse backgrounds. It does the same with teachers.

The district’s co-teaching model groups “the content police and the language police,” said Kimberly Allen, an instructional coach at Twin Falls’ Canyon Ridge High School. A subject expert — such as a math teacher — works alongside a colleague who specializes in working with English language learners.

“We’ve jokingly called them arranged marriages,” said Allen.

Idaho Education News

In terms of geography and culture, Twin Falls can scarcely be farther removed from Afghanistan or Iran, Burma or Nepal.

Yet in schools such as Twin Falls’ Lincoln Elementary School, in a portable building abutting a blacktop playground, newly arrived refugee students begin their long and stark transition to American schools.

Idaho Education News

Some refugee students at Boise’s Hillside Junior High School remember the schools in their homelands — where teachers hit their students, or where teachers feared being hit by students.

Then there are the refugee students who have spent little time in any classroom.

“You have to learn how to be a student,” said Rita Hogan, a teacher in Boise’s English Language Development program. “And that’s tough, when you’re a seventh-grader, and you’re learning algebra.”

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