Education

Herald Post / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho schools chief Sherri Ybarra is proposing a 7.5 percent hike in public school funding. The increase would go toward more money for teacher salaries and restoring funding to pre-recession levels for Idaho's 115 school districts to spend on paying insurance, utilities or other operations costs.

Ybarra presented her budget to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. She is requesting spending $1.5 billion for fiscal 2017, which is nearly $110 million more than this year's budget.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

In recent years, funding for higher education has been a secondary focus for Idaho lawmakers. Following the recession, K-12 schools were lawmakers’ top education priority. But now - amid continued revenue growth and changing workforce needs - higher education is being discussed more and more. Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter proposed this week the state’s four-year colleges and universities get a nearly 9 percent increase in state funding next fiscal year.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

In his State of the State speech Monday, Idaho Governor Butch Otter said education is his top legislative priority this year. The Republican’s budget proposal includes millions of dollars in new funding for K-through-12 schools. 

But based on percentage, the increases Otter is requesting for higher education are even larger.  The governor’s budget hints at some changing priorities in state government.

Kyle Green / Idaho Statesman

Boise State University has achieved an academic distinction its leaders say has been more than a decade in the making. The school announced Wednesday its classification as a “Doctoral Research” institution by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

To achieve the designation, institutions need to award at least 20 research and scholarship doctoral degrees in a given year.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter began outlining his budget and policy priorities for state lawmakers during his "State of the State" address Monday afternoon, naming public education as his primary focus for the year.

The annual speech kicks off the start of the legislative session, with state lawmakers, members of the judiciary and other leaders gathered in the Idaho Statehouse to hear Otter's remarks.

Otter reminded lawmakers of the state's constitutional requirement to provide a general, uniform and free public school system. He proposed a 7.9 percent increase to the state's public education budget. That would bring the total to $1.59 billion. It's the second year in a row that Otter has proposed steep hikes for education spending.

John Kelly / Boise State University

A Boise State chemistry professor has been named the 2015 Idaho Professor of the Year by two national education organizations.

Susan Shadle is among 35 state winners and the 10th Boise State professor to claim the award, which is handed out by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Discovery Center of Idaho

The Discovery Center of Idaho wants more young people to get excited about science, technology, engineering and math – better known as STEM. To do that, the center has partnered with another Boise nonprofit, Giraffe Laugh Early Learning Center. The two groups are asking people in the community to sponsor 50 low-income families with memberships to the science center.

Mecale Causey is with the Discovery Center. She says the idea fits perfectly with their overall mission.

learning elementary student teacher
Alvin Trusty / Flickr Creative Commons

Nearly 10 percent of Idaho children go to school just four days a week. That’s almost 27,000 students. Dozens of districts across the state have switched to four day weeks since the Great Recession in hopes of saving money. But as Idaho Education News reports, nobody knows how that impacts students.

Idaho Education News

Lawmakers received $5 million worth of good news Tuesday morning. The state’s bill for school broadband could come in well below budget.

One reason for the savings: School districts have been able to tap into federally administered dollars that had been cut off during the Idaho Education Network broadband contract dispute.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A local astronomer has made his crowdfunding goal and Boise will soon have an observatory again.

Kyle Green / Idaho Statesman

Treasure Valley school districts faced with a shortage of special education teachers are turning to alternative routes of certification as they struggle to fill positions.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the shortage has hit West Ada School District, the state's largest district, and Boise School District, one of Idaho's highest-paying districts. Council, a logging town near Boise with only 240 students, has also struggled to find special education teachers.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

On top of the tallest academic building on the Boise State campus sits a large metal dome. It is an observatory that has been at the school for more than 35 years. At one point, the dome was a hive of activity, giving students and the public a chance to peer deep into our solar system. Now it sits mostly empty and unused, after years of neglect.

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.

A Boise teacher in her 70's is helping kids learn outside of the classroom in an usual way: with a tablecloth.

Micky Afnan began her career as an educator in 1958. She taught high school, then elementary students.

While teaching the younger children, she recalled a colorful tablecloth her mother made when Afnan was a child. It included a map of the U.S. with the state capitals. Afnan says the cloth helped her memorize all of the capitals in a few months.

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.

Chris Butler / Idaho Statesman

Boise’s Concordia Law School graduates its first group of students Saturday. The school, which is three years old, just received provisional accreditation in June.

Graduate Blake Echols transferred to Concordia for his second year of law school. He says the fact that the institution wasn’t accredited when he started didn’t bother him.

“I got opportunities here that I probably wouldn’t have had elsewhere," says Echols, "it being a new school, it being a much smaller school.”

Melinda Shelton / Flickr

A new study says the switch to a four-day school week isn’t saving Idaho school districts the kind of money they had expected. The Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho even found that some districts say their costs went up after the change.

More questions than answers hang around Idaho lawmakers grappling over the now defunct statewide school broadband access program.

A legislative interim committee met Tuesday to begin determining whether the Idaho Legislature should attempt a new statewide broadband program.

Idaho's broadband program dissolved earlier this year after a district judge ruled the $60 million contract that created the system was illegal. This left individual school districts scrambling to secure their own broadband access contracts for the upcoming school year.

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