Education

Rural schools, Idaho County, bus
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Skip Hall has been a teacher at Grangeville High School for 31 years. His early American history class with freshmen and sophomores will be one of his last: he’s retiring at the end of the school year.

As Hall’s class works together on projects, he takes a moment to reflect on the state of education in his district.

“The biggest thing I see is lack of choice for the students," Hall says.

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The College of Southern Idaho is launching a pilot program next school year allowing high school students to take college science classes for free.

Dubbed the “Dual Credit General Education Academy,” twenty-five students from across the Magic Valley will be able to take all of their gen-ed courses in the two year program.

Idaho Ed News

In 2015-16, legislators earmarked $16.1 million to reward teachers who take on leadership roles.

Lawmakers want these ongoing “leadership premiums” to go to select teachers who take on added responsibilities. Yet 19 districts gave a share of the money to at least 90 percent of their teaching staff.

Lawmakers also wanted eligible teachers to receive a significant bonus — writing an $850 minimum into state statute. Eighteen districts and charter schools awarded smaller premiums anyway. The smallest was $75.

Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

Idaho's largest school district is the latest of six districts across the state to launch a program designed to help at-risk kids get ready for college.

The West Ada School District is starting the program, called Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, in the Mountain View and Meridian high schools. The Idaho Statesman reports the district will expand the program to other schools in the 38,000-student district over the next several years.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has created a Task Force on Higher Education that he hopes will increase the amount of workers who have post-high school education.

The Idaho Statesman reported Sunday that the task force is a reaction to short progress made toward the state's goal to ensure 60 percent of its workforce between the ages of 25 to 34 have post-high school education by 2020. The rate has risen from 38 to 42 percent since the goal was established.

Hadi Partovi, founder of Code.org, above Boise, Idaho, April 2017.
Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

Hadi Partovi is the CEO and founder of Code.org, a nationwide non-profit that encourages young students to take up computer programming. He also launched an annual event called Hour of Code.

Idaho Ed News

For 140 students in Cassia County, the school day doesn’t end with the afternoon bell. And the school year continues past spring.

elections, voting, vote booth
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A proposed $172 million bond to fund construction and improvements at schools across the Boise District easily passed in yesterday’s election. Officials say some of the building projects could be underway as soon as June. Many of the refurbishments and rebuilds planned by the Boise District are scheduled to be completed by fall of 2018.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Jaeden Forrey took on an unusual school assignment.

“This is my 1970 Monte Carlo," says Forrey. "I got it – not this last Christmas but the Christmas before. And I got it [when it] had no paint, no engine, no transmission, no interior. So I did all the body work, I did all the engine work and interior work on it.”

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This week in our news series Financing The Future: Examining School Bonds And Levies, Boise State Public Radio and Idaho Education News looked at the finances and infrastructure of the Boise School District. We studied school bonds, past and present, and walked through aging buildings slated for a tear-down. We visited a career-technical high school ready to expand its programs and saw over-crowding at a dual-language immersion school.

With the March 14 bond election on the horizon, Matt Guilhem sat down with Kevin Richert to wrap up the series.

Whittier School Students Kids
Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise School District has been building its case for voters to approve its $172 million bond on March 14. This isn’t the first time the district has had to sell the idea of a bond. There was a bond passed in 1996 and in 2006, and a levy in 2012.

More than a decade ago, voters approved a $94 million bond. Nancy Gregory was on the Boise School Board at that time.

Idaho Ed News

For school districts across Idaho, a $709 million election day looms.

At least 45 of Idaho’s 115 school districts will seek bond issues, plant facilities levies or supplemental levies on March 14, according to Idaho Education News research. The bottom line: At least $709.2 million in ballot measures are on ballot.

Under Idaho law, school districts can run ballot measures on four election days: in March, May, August and November.

Why the logjam on March 14? Timing is certainly a factor.

Lacey Daley / Boise State Public Radio

Bonds in Idaho can be hard to pass, in part because a lot of “yes” votes are needed at the polls. So how school districts explain their need and the cost to voters is critical in a bond campaign.

In this installment of our Financing the Future Series, we take a closer look at the Boise District’s bond and why it could be a challenge to pass.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

On Feb. 9, House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding convinced the House Local Government Committee to introduce a proposal to reduce Idaho’s two-thirds supermajority.

And that’s as far as it’s likely to go. Erpelding has been told his proposal will not get a hearing. By his count, there have been 11 attempts to reduce the supermajority since 1990, and none have made it through the Legislature.

“I guess I can get in line,” Erpelding, D-Boise, said Friday.

Boise State Public Radio and Idaho Education News are partnering to produce a week-long series on how the March 14 statewide school elections affect students, communities and taxpayers.

High school junior Erin Frazer is laser-focused, moving her mouse deftly as she manipulates an image on her computer screen.

“I think Illustrator is my favorite out of all these programs,” she says.

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