Education

Travis Smith / Boise State Public Radio

Instructors at the University of Idaho and Boise State University and colleges around the country are protesting pay and working conditions for part-time faculty. National Adjunct Walk Out Day is meant to highlight the trend in higher education of relying on lower-paid, adjunct instructors who work from semester to semester.

A petition being circulated online and on Boise State’s campus Wednesday reads:

Kyle Green
Courtesy Idaho Statesman

Boise State University football coach Bryan Harsin has a new contract that pays him $6.25 million over five years.

The Idaho State Board or Education on Thursday approved the deal for Harsin who in his first season last year guided the Broncos to a 12-2 record and a Fiesta Bowl win.

The new deal replaces a previous contract that awarded Harsin a one-year extension for winning nine or more games.

The new agreement awards a one-year extension for eight or more wins.

Enokson / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho schools are scrambling to keep the Internet on for the rest of the school year. Lawmakers say the Idaho Education Network (IEN) will go offline as early as Sunday and districts need to make deals with local providers, or lose their internet connections.

The statewide program to get broadband in schools has been in jeopardy since a judge declared the state’s contract with internet service providers illegal  last November.

student, desk, classroom
BionicTeaching / Flickr Creative Commons

A district judge says Idaho's troubled broadband contract is void, clarifying a ruling made in November.

Fourth District Judge Patrick Owen submitted his final ruling Thursday as a response to the Idaho Department of Administration seeking reconsideration on the $60 million broadband contract. The program provides broadband access to Idaho's public schools. 

Owen voided the contract late last year after finding the state violated its own procurement laws. However, the state appealed to determine if the entire contract was illegal or only portions that had been amended.

Courtesy Gordon Jones

In August, Boise State University announced plans to create a new College of Innovation and Design.   Administrators said it was an answer to what nationally has become an aging academic model that’s producing college graduates with skill sets that don’t always align with what companies need.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The city of Boise and the Boise School District are teaming up to offer preschool as part of the city's Vista Neighborhood Project pilot program. Over a number of years, the city is putting several million dollars into this one part of town in hopes of transforming the relatively-poor neighborhood.

Diana Lachiondo with Boise’s mayor’s office says research shows preschool is good for communities.

boisestate.edu/planning

Boise State University says it's eliminating its Community and Regional Planning Department, a move that still requires approval by the state Board of Education.

The university says budget constraints made the decision necessary, and the graduate program’s small size made it a logical place to cut. The planning department has about 20 students according to an article on the university’s website.

Attending state-funded prekindergarten substantially reduces the likelihood that students will end up in special education programs later on, according to a new study by researchers at Duke University.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The starting salary for Idaho teachers is lower than in Washington, Oregon, and three other surrounding states. Superintendents in Idaho border towns say that has left them with shortages.

The salary for a first-year teacher in Idaho is around $31,000. It doesn’t help that St. Maries, a school district in north Idaho, is only 30 miles from Washington, where the teacher starting salary is 15 percent higher and teachers move up the pay scale much faster.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Another attempt at establishing public preschool in Idaho will likely be introduced this month in the state Legislature. Idaho is one of only a handful of states that doesn’t have statewide public preschool. Many lawmakers object to it on philosophical grounds, despite strong evidence it’s good for student success.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra says she wants local school officials to decide how money should be spent in the classroom.

During her first budget presentation to the Legislature Thursday morning, Ybarra said she hadn't yet determined exactly how funds for some of her biggest policy initiatives would be spent. Instead, Ybarra said, she wanted to figure out those details once she saw just how much money the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee budgets for each line item.

Clark Gilbert
Courtesy BYU-Idaho

Deseret News CEO Clark Gilbert has been named the new president of Brigham Young University-Idaho.

The selection of Gilbert was announced Tuesday during a devotional at BYU-Idaho's campus in Rexburg, Idaho. Gilbert becomes the 16th president of the Mormon-owned school, and will take over for Kim B. Clark in April.

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:

During his stop at Boise State University Wednesday, President Barack Obama will visit a lab that helps local entrepreneurs and industries build prototypes of their products to help get them into the marketplace.

Obama will visit the College of Engineering’s New Product Development Lab. It’s managed and run by the College of Business and Economics. 

Keyboard, computer, tech
newfilm.dk / Flickr Creative Commons

A new audit shows slightly more than half of the schools surveyed aren't using the equipment purchased through Idaho's pricey broadband contract and nearly 6 percent of the videoconferencing equipment can't be located.

Legislative auditors told budget writers Thursday that use of the Idaho Education Network, a program that provides broadband access to Idaho public schools, has declined since it first began in 2012.

State Sen. Dean Cameron says the report raises concerns for the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee as it considers funding the program for another year.

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:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra offered a brief glimpse of her agenda for the 2015 Idaho Legislature at her first press conference since being elected in November.

Ybarra told reporters Monday that she is considering increasing operational funding for schools while possibly delaying the implementation of a new plan that seeks to tighten teacher certification credentials.

twitter.com/jkaf_foundation

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation has given away about $30 million a year in Idaho since the 1990s. Most of that money has gone to projects involving Idaho’s public schools. But foundation Executive Director Roger Quarles says the board and staff are frustrated with how that's worked out, and are changing the way they give.

“Since 1997 we’ve invested almost $700 million in K-12 and higher ed,” Quarles says. “And to me, it looks the same as it did 17 years ago. School basically looks the same, feels the same as it did a hundred years ago in Idaho.”

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.

The College of Idaho has received a $2.45 million grant spread over five years for biomedical research.

The school in southwest Idaho in a statement Monday says that about a third of the money will be used to investigate the medical properties of sagebrush.

A similar amount will be used to research small molecule inhibitors that could be used to fight pathogenic microorganisms.

The school says the rest of the money will be used for other research projects.

The money comes from the National Institutes of Health's IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence.

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