Education

U.S. Dept. of Education / Flickr Creative Commons

One of the Idaho Legislature's most anticipated proposals to boost teacher pay has finally been revealed just nine days before lawmakers begin setting the state's public education budget.

The Idaho House Education Committee listened to the plan Friday but did not vote on any legislation.

Under the plan, beginning teacher pay would bump up from $31,750 to $33,000 per year school starting in fiscal year 2016 and eventually increase to $37,000 over five years.

bullying
Diego Grez / Wikimedia

A bipartisan bill in the Idaho Legislature would train teachers to deal with bullying and require them to intervene when they see it happen.

Boise Democratic Rep. Ilana Rubel said it’s not an issue of niceness. She said it’s an educational issue -- because bullying makes kids less engaged with school.

“And as news spread of this bill, I was contacted by hundreds of parents across the state who felt desperately that we needed to act in this regard,” Rubel said.
 

Classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

A legislative panel is backing a bill that would let Idaho's Education Department contract with private companies for education programs, and then only pay once the programs are shown to work.

The House Education Committee unanimously approved the plan, dubbed "Pay for Success," on Monday.

Sen. Bob Nonini from Coeur d'Alene sponsored the legislation. He says Idaho would not have to pay any money unless an independent evaluator decides the educational pilot program has met its goals under the contract.

Usually, the state funds pilot programs with its own money.

Idaho parents who don’t want their child to have to pass the state’s standardized test for graduation would be able to opt-out under a bill in the state Senate.

The head of Idaho's Senate Education Committee says a highly anticipated plan to boost teacher pay will be revealed soon.

Republican Sen. Dean Mortimer of Idaho Falls told the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee Wednesday that he believes the bill is coming together but stakeholders are still figuring out key details.

Mortimer did not specify what have been the sources of contention. Mortimer also shied away from telling budget writers how much the state's education budget should increase on behalf of his committee.

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.

Mike Crapo
U.S. Senate

A bill to renew federal subsidies to timber counties has been filed in the Senate.

The Secure Rural Schools program made up for federal timber revenues that declined as environmental protections reduced national forest logging, but it expired last year. Efforts to renew it failed in the lame-duck session of Congress.

The latest version was filed Thursday by Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden and Idaho Republican Mike Crapo.

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.

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.

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.

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:

The White House / Flickr Creative Commons

President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver a 2:45 p.m. speech today at the Caven-Williams Sports Complex on the Boise State University campus after delivering his State of the Union address last night.

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:

Young Invincibles

A national group working to engage young people on issues like education and health care gives Idaho a D- when it comes to state support for higher education.

Predicting what lawmakers will focus on during the Idaho legislative session is a bit of a gamble. But after eight terms in office, Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, has a good idea of the Legislature's priorities -- after all, he has a big influence in shaping that agenda. Hill, who is the President Pro-Tem of the Senate, points to education and gay rights issues as topics  front and center for lawmakers this year.

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