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.
As expected, the closest statewide race of Idaho's 2014 election was for superintendent of public instruction. Unofficially, Republican Sherri Ybarra won with 50.7 percent of the vote to Democrat Jana Jones' 49.3 percent. Just 5,700 votes separated the two candidates.
Republican candidates running for statewide and legislative offices stopped at a public charter school, where they were greeted by the student body, while traveling on a campaign bus tour.
The Spokesman-Review reports that the Oct. 24 visit raises questions over whether the stop violated Idaho's education ethics code. The code forbids schools from promoting political candidates or political activities.
Pictures of the event show campaign signs posted in front of Gooding's North Valley Academy Public Charter School.
“We have a lot of work to do,” said TVEP chairman Rich Raimondi, president at Bishop Kelly High School. “We first want to be open and transparent about our baseline. I think we will see (increases) in the next couple of years.”
Republican Sherri Ybarra says her at-times bumpy campaign for Idaho's Superintendent of Public Instruction is a result of increased public scrutiny on a political newcomer. But the school administrator from Mountain Home says she understands the focus that's on her comes with a run for public office.
Those who follow education and politics in Idaho will probably be hearing the phrase ‘tiered licensure’ a lot in the next few months. The idea is to create different levels of teaching licenses. Idaho Education News reporter Clark Corbin has been following the issue closely. Corbin says the plan has many teachers worried.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is raising the bar for high school students enrolled in seminary, adding tests and reading requirements to a program that previously just required attendance.
Church-run seminary classes are geared toward students ages 14 to 18 and overview the Mormon scriptures in 50-minute, daily sessions typically held at a home or LDS meetinghouse in the mornings before regular high school classes begin.
In 2012-13, Idaho’s high school graduation rate dropped to its lowest point in a decade.
The numbers — the most recent available — largely reflect a bookkeeping change. The federal government wants schools to do a better job of tracking students who leave the education system, even if they just transfer to another school; any students who fall through the cracks will be listed as dropouts.