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.

Idaho Education News

A scramble to add teachers and staffers in Vallivue, Twin Falls and beyond.

A portable classroom building at Madison Junior High School.

Emergency property tax collections. And perhaps, in Boise, an earlier-than-expected discussion about another building bond issue.

Across many of Idaho’s largest districts, preliminary enrollment numbers are heading upward, and that has short- and long-term implications. In the short term, class sizes will increase. In the long term, taxpayers may be asked to add new facilities.

Idaho Education News

Idaho’s SAT math scores dropped in April — and it’s potentially a warning sign, according to a top state education official.

The drop in 11th graders’ SAT scores compounds another round of troubling news. This spring, only 30 percent of 10th graders received proficient math scores on Idaho’s new statewide exam, the so-called SBAC test that is aligned to the Common Core standards.

Idaho Education News

Idaho SAT scores dropped slightly in April — and the decrease was most pronounced in math.

Idaho Education News

Linda Clark has spent 37 years working in Meridian-area schools. She has seen the suburban school district mushroom from 9,700 students to an enrollment of nearly 37,000 — with all the pressures and construction demands that come with growth.

But for Clark, the past few weeks have been particularly tumultuous.

Idaho Education News

When it comes to paying and keeping teachers, there are wide gaps between Idaho’s haves and have-nots.

Idaho’s new five-year plan to boost teacher pay will not solve this problem. In fact, it could even get worse.

The $125 million career ladder law is designed to narrow the teacher pay gap between Idaho and neighboring states. Within Idaho, teacher salaries are set locally, and results vary widely from district to district. (To see how your local district stacks up, use the searchable table at the bottom of this story.)

Idaho Education News

Idaho’s ill-fated $61.5 million Schoolnet experiment is all but over.

Now, school districts can choose a substitute: an instructional management system designed to help teachers tailor their lesson plans around students’ strengths and weaknesses.

It’s a big decision for district officials — albeit one subsidized by state dollars. And for education vendors, it’s a market opportunity.

Education, school, classroom
IlmicrofonoOgglono / Flickr Creative Commons

The average teacher pay in Idaho dropped by more than $200 from 2012-13 to 2013-14 — a decrease that the state’s teachers’ union can’t explain.

On average, only two states pay their teachers less than Idaho.

A March 10 hearing on a teacher career ladder bill drew dozens of teachers to the Statehouse to testify. A new version of the bill passed the House Monday.

But meanwhile, pay appeared to increase for Idaho “instructional staff,” including counselors, principals and curriculum specialists.

West Ada School District

Across the state, a high-stakes school election day looms on Tuesday.

How high are the stakes? There are at least $393.3 million in bond issues and school levies on the ballot next week.

Contractors have received $29.7 million under the voided Idaho Education Network contract.

Should the state try to get this money back?

It’s one of the many legal issues surrounding the defunct statewide broadband system. And it’s one many state officials don’t want to talk about.

Kevin Richert / Idaho Education News

Legislative budget-writers moved several million dollars around Tuesday morning in a last-minute bid to save broadband in Idaho high schools.

But it’s going to be up to school administrators to find someone to provide broadband locally. There’s no guarantee service will continue past this weekend — when the statewide Idaho Education Network could go dark.

Kevin Richert / Idaho Education News

Mississippi has the nation’s highest kindergarten vaccination rate. Idaho’s rate is among the nation’s lowest.

What separates these two states — so often neighbors in national demographic rankings?

The answer can be found in the states’ laws. Mississippi essentially requires all parents to immunize their children before kindergarten. In Idaho, parents can use three different types of waivers to get out of immunizing their children. And Idaho schools have no recourse but to accept the paperwork and enroll these students.

Data: Idaho Education News

Repeatedly — both before and after his election to a third term — Gov. Butch Otter’s praise for Idaho’s high school broadband system has focused on access.

The Idaho Education Network brings more classes into rural schools, he says, bringing the state that much closer to meeting its constitutional mandate to provide a uniform system of free public schools.

The state’s own numbers tell a very different story:

internet, computer, broadband,
Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons

The state has outlined its timetable to rebid the Idaho Education Network broadband contract — and Idaho will likely have to go it alone on project funding at least until July 1, 2016.

The state Department of Administration won’t accept bids on the new contract until June, and that’s well past the deadline for the state (or school districts) to apply for federally administered “e-Rate” funds for 2015-16.

Here’s how the two timetables mesh:

Idaho Education News

Idaho school districts are collecting more than $180 million in voter-approved supplemental levies in 2014-15.

This represents almost a 4 percent decrease from 2013-14, when districts collected more than $188 million in supplemental levies. But the dropoff can be explained by reduced levies in three of the state’s largest districts. Across the state, levy elections are more commonplace than ever.

Terry McCombs / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho is doing a poor job of preparing educators to teach to Common Core standards, according to a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.

Last week, the National Council on Teacher Quality gave Idaho a D+ grade for teacher preparedness. The average state grade was a C; only 10 states graded out lower than Idaho.

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