Education

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Entrance Steps Bell
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

As the Idaho Legislature wraps up its second week, lawmakers have introduced around 30 bills so far.

Boise State University Political Science Professor Gary Moncrief says that’s a little below normal, but we’ll see a lot more bills next week.

Right now, lawmakers are looking at a change to the Primary Election system in Idaho. They also want to make sure liquor licenses get used for selling booze instead of as investments. And Democrats had a suggestion for getting more teachers into rural schools.

capitol, statehouse, idaho
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Governor Butch Otter said Monday during his State of the State address that education is his top priority for his fiscal year 2018 budget request.

His speech focused on education, tax relief and Idaho’s economy.

“Our finances are secure. Revenue is exceeding expectations. Economic growth is outpacing the overall growth of government and our own operations are more transparent and efficient than ever,” says Otter.

He is also proposing some tax relief.

AP Photo / Otto Kitsinger

Idaho Governor Butch Otter told lawmakers Monday that education is his top priority for the next budget year.

During his 11th State of the State address, he proposed more money for K-12 teacher salaries and the higher education building fund. And he wants tax cuts for businesses.

But there were a few things that he didn’t have a solution for, including a transportation maintenance shortfall, and the 78,000 Idahoans who don’t have health insurance because they make too much money to get on Medicaid.

AP

Update, 1:08 p.m.:

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's top priority for Idaho lawmakers is to focus on education in 2017.

Otter announced his short wish list during his annual State of the State address Monday afternoon.

The Republican governor proposed a 4.6 percent increase — roughly a $189 million funding bump — to the state's overall budget. More than 60 percent of that would go toward education, including more funding for teacher salaries and higher education facilities.

AP Photo

Speaking at an Associated Press legislative preview Friday, Idaho Governor Butch Otter hinted at some of his priorities for the 2017 session.

Otter traditionally unveils his budget and policy plans in his State of the State speech, which he gives on the first day of the session, which is Monday. But he did give a sneak peek Friday morning when he said his main focus will be education.

He’ll ask lawmakers for $58 million for the teacher pay raise program known as the Career Ladder. The five-year plan is in its third year and Otter says the goals are straightforward.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

When they convene next week, lawmakers in the Idaho Legislature plan to take a closer look at teacher evaluations.

For years, Idaho has required an annual evaluation to use as a tool for educators to improve their performance. In 2015, lawmakers decided to tie those evaluations to teacher raises. Called the Career Ladder, this initiative spends $250 million over five years to boost teacher pay. But to climb that ladder - teachers must meet certain performance benchmarks in order to earn a raise.

Idaho Department of Education

This adorable penguin was drawn by Sawtooth Elementary fifth-grader Kylee Thiel. It was submitted from Twin Falls along with other pictures from around the state in the Idaho State Department of Education's Holiday Card Contest.

Idaho Schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra said Thiel's artwork was the winner. It will be featured on the Department's holiday greeting card. Thiel will also get a certificate and copies of the card to share with family and friends.

Metro Community Services

A group of 10 high school students are learning building techniques as they put together a tiny house in Wilder. As Samantha Wright reports, a partnership designed to teach kids new skills is behind the project.

Middleton School District

Between 2006 and 2015, Middleton Heights Elementary placed girls and boys in separate classrooms, based on an education theory that the sexes learn differently.

But according to the American Civil Liberties Union, this was a violation of Title IX, and the Department of Education recently agreed.

“Well the issue is definitely not new," says Leo Morales from the ACLU of Idaho, "and it’s an issue that the ACLU across the country has been looking at for years.”

AP Photo

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says that he has no plans to introduce a tax cut proposal to the Idaho Legislature in 2017.

Speaking Wednesday at the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho annual conference in Boise, Otter said he plans to focus on education as his top priority during the upcoming legislative session. However, Otter added he's open to considering tax cut proposals that make it through the GOP-dominated Legislature.

A 180-million-dollar bond to fund a two-pronged expansion for the College of Western Idaho failed to get the necessary supermajority it needed to pass at the polls Tuesday. The 25-year bond would have gone toward growing CWI’s main campus in Nampa as well as establishing a presence in Boise.

In order to pass, the measure – which would have raised taxes – needed a 67 percent approval rating. Instead, it got 57 percent. The defeat means the college’s trustees now have to consider their next step for the growing institution. 

Jon Rawlinson / Flickr Creative Commons

A national education policy advocacy organization is holding its 3rd annual conference in Boise this week. The agenda is mostly what you’d expect, a lot of speeches, which started Wednesday night and run through Friday. But the conference also features a reality TV twist.

Kimberlee Kruesi / AP

Idaho's top schools chief says she wants a 6.6 percent increase in education spending for 2017, requesting more money for teacher salaries and literacy improvement.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra released her plan Thursday. In it, Idaho's public school funding would bump up $104.7 million more than what lawmakers allocated this year.

AP Photo

As students head back to classrooms across the state this week and next, Governor Butch Otter continues to push his five-year education plan. 

David Erickson / Flickr Creative Commons

An Idaho school district will hand out nearly 2,000 laptops as the first phase of a personalized learning initiative.

KTVB-TV reports the Nampa School District will issue the Dell Latitude laptops to Columbia High School students this week. The computers can be used at school and at home.

The laptops are part of a three-year, $3.5 million project to modernize classroom technology and curriculum. It will also feature professional development for teachers.

Polymorphic Games Studio / University of Idaho

Students at the University of Idaho are using biology to create a new kind of video game. It uses evolutionary principals to make enemies smarter as they reproduce.

It was a summer project for students in the Polymorphic Games studio: Build a video game based on the biology of evolution. The goal was to make a better video game that teaches biology in the background.

The belief that with hard work, prosperity and success are open to everyone, is at the heart of our national identity. Yet, according to today’s guest, Robert Putnam, the gap between those who have the chance to forge a better future, and those who are being left behind, is getting wider. As a result “our kids,” America’s poorest among them, are experiencing a transformation of American society that comes at a cost to every one of us.

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

This year’s SAT results are out and Idaho high school juniors averaged 1002. If you’re bringing up what you know about SAT scores, maybe trying to remember your own, you may be thinking that’s pretty bad. And last year, when the total possible was 2,400, it would have been. But this is the first year of some big changes to the test and the scoring system. Now, the total possible score is 1,600.

Boise State University, campus
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Treasure Valley students and residents this fall will have an opportunity to take classes from Harvard Business School without leaving Idaho. Boise State University and the famed Ivy League school announced a new partnership Thursday.

Mike Gifford / Flickr Creative Commons

We’ve heard from some southwest Idaho school districts in the last few days about how they’re reacting to new federal guidelines about transgender students. The Obama administration Friday sent a letter to all public schools that take federal money saying the law that bans gender discrimination also applies to transgender students.

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