Education

A Boise student was one of only a dozen in the world to get a perfect score on last year’s Advanced Placement micro-economics exam. More than 62,000 students took that test last spring. Then Boise High senior Sam Faucher was one of them.

Faucher will soon start his second semester at Yale University. He says he can’t remember much about the test he aced except that he had to draw a lot of graphs. He says he thought he did well but later had some doubts.

Butch Otter
State of Idaho

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has asked the State Board of Education to shepherd a statewide discussion about improving education for students.

Otter said Thursday a broadly representative group of Idahoans yet to be selected will study options that could lead to changes without lawmakers creating new laws.

But he says if the group determines legislation is necessary, lawmakers could take up the ideas in 2014.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho voters' decision to strike down three education laws in November raised a question. What happens to the money that was meant to pay for things like classroom technology and hiring more math and science teachers?

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A state committee will move forward with inspecting two Salmon schools to determine whether a state fund can be tapped to repair or rebuild the schools. 

Salmon School District 291 is looking for new revenue after local voters have rejected seven separate bond levies since 2005.

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Students and adults at schools across Idaho have been on edge this week in the wake of Friday’s shooting at a Connecticut elementary.  Rumors are keeping law enforcement busy in several parts of Idaho.

In Meridian two high schools have canceled or postponed annual assemblies scheduled for Friday. A district spokesman says administrators at Centennial and Mountain View high schools became aware early this week that students were afraid.

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Nampa’s school board met in a special session Wednesday night to continue work on fixing the district’s $4.5 million budget shortfall. The board decided to continue efforts to borrow money. It also agreed to move toward a spring levy but stopped short of committing to the idea.

That’s in part because they want to see how successful the loan effort is. The district has a month to meet the deadline to put a levy on the March ballot.

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This week school districts across Idaho have reached out to parents to reassure them their children are safe at school under the shadow of the mass shooting Friday at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

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Last week the Nampa School District mandated four furlough days for all classified staff. That’s part of the district's plan to overcome a budget deficit of about $4.5 million. The district says teachers don’t have to take furloughs but, some say that’s not what they’re hearing.

Idaho’s Department of Education will reconvene a group that made safety recommendations for Idaho schools four years ago. That’s from a memo that schools’ superintendent Tom Luna sent Monday to district leaders, charter school administrators and school principals. The memo comes in response to Friday’s school shooting in Connecticut.

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Paul Elementary in south-central Idaho celebrated a new technology contract Friday afternoon. It brings an Apple iPad to every student and teacher, the contract puts laptops in every classroom, and provides for building wide tech support.

The event brought out Lieutenant Governor Brad Little, Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, and several other Idaho officials.

The school has signed a contract with a Utah based company called iSchools Campus.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The leaders of the campaign that defeated Idaho’s Propositions 1, 2 and 3 in last month’s election are concerned that the laws could come back. They’re speaking out against efforts to resurrect the education overhaul rejected by voters.

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Nampa’s school board has approved some money saving and revenue raising steps to fill about a $4.5 million shortfall. That budget hole was discovered last summer and blamed on accounting errors. The board approved recommendations Tuesday night from a special committee.

screenshot / nationsreportcard.gov

New numbers out this week from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show Hispanic students in Idaho making big improvements in reading. The NAEP from The U.S. Department of Education is known as “The Nation’s Report Card.” Its periodic assessments look at how students are doing on standardized tests in various subjects. The most recent report looks at reading vocabulary scores of fourth and eighth graders in 2011.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

This week we’ve been following a new lawsuit that alleges Idaho is not meeting its constitutional duty to adequately fund schools. Also this week Governor Butch Otter turned heads when he was asked if the state was living up to the constitution in that area.

“I would say probably not, but we’re doing the best job that we can,” Otter responded.

Empty Classroom
Karen Apricot New Orleans / Flickr Creative Commons

A group of parents filed a lawsuit in October over fees in Idaho schools. They say charging fees for classes like science or art violates the state constitution. But to take on the state to change the education system they needed the right lawyer. They found Robert Huntley.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

Idaho Governor Butch Otter spent Wednesday afternoon discussing the coming legislative session at a meeting of the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho. Otter told the crowd lawmakers would revisit the education laws voters rejected last month. That’s despite the fact that Propositions 1, 2, and 3 were defeated by wide margins.

“I do believe that we will see parts of Proposition 1, the management plan, proposition 2, the pay for performance, and proposition 3, the high tech,” Otter said. “I think you’ll see parts and pieces of all of those come back at us.”   

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We first heard from Russel Joki two months ago when he and a group of parents filed a lawsuit against the state and its school districts.  Joki says the genesis of the suit came when he registered his grandson at Meridian High School.

“He was charged fees to take a chemistry class, to take a sports medicine class,” he recalls. “He was charged fees to enroll in art classes.”  

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The kind of finely tuned data crunching that fueled the 2012 election is spreading to another venue: the classroom. You might have heard that campaign analysts can predict who you're likely vote for based on the magazines you read and the car you drive. Now, researchers are finding ways to predict who's likely to drop out of high school based on, say, a third grade attendance record. Schools hope a computer program will help them reach kids before it's too late.

Stack of Books
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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho just finished a bruising debate over reforming public education, with voters rejecting public schools chief Tom Luna's overhaul.

Come 2013, the Legislature is likely to discuss an education policy change not in that package but potentially as contentious: whether Idaho should offer tax credits to those who donate to scholarship programs meant to help students attend private or parochial schools.

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An Idaho school district is asking for more money in an ongoing court battle with a contractor.

The Blaine County School district and Seattle based McKinstry have sued each other over several million dollars’ worth of upgrades the company performed on district buildings. McKinstry says it’s owed money, and the district claims the company did unauthorized work.

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