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:
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.
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.
In a ruling that could have major implications for broadband service in schools — and a multimillion-dollar price tag for Idaho taxpayers — a District Court judge has tossed out Idaho’s $60 million school broadband contract.
The disputed Idaho Education Network contract was declared void late Monday afternoon by 4th District Court judge Patrick Owen.
Owen sharply criticized the state Department of Administration for continuing to try to salvage the 2009 contract, after carving Syringa Networks out of the deal to provide broadband to 219 high schools across the state.
A.J. Balukoff has said he’s committed to doing whatever it takes to unseat incumbent Gov. Butch Otter.
And we now know that includes putting more than $3.2 million into the race.
The latest round of campaign finance reports came in Tuesday — a snapshot covering the period from Oct. 1 to Oct. 19. In that time, the businessman, accountant and Boise School Board trustee contributed $995,000 to his campaign, bringing his total contributions for the year past the $2.7 million mark. Since Oct. 19, Balukoff has put an additional $545,000 into the race.