Idaho Schools

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.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

John Steinbeck’s classic "Of Mice and Men" will remain on the classroom reading list for freshmen in a north Idaho school district.

The Coeur d’Alene school board voted 4-1 Monday night to keep it.

Kaje / Flickr

The Idaho House has passed a plan requiring school board candidates in roughly half of Idaho's school districts to file campaign finance reports.

The House voted 50-19 on Tuesday to require candidates in districts with at least 500 students to file the same campaign disclosure reports as other elected officials.

Republican Rep. Patrick McDonald from Boise says that companies or citizens may try to influence elections for local school boards, which often control multi-million dollar budgets.

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation has given away about $30 million a year in Idaho since the 1990s. Most of that money has gone to projects involving Idaho’s public schools. But foundation Executive Director Roger Quarles says the board and staff are frustrated with how that's worked out, and are changing the way they give.

“Since 1997 we’ve invested almost $700 million in K-12 and higher ed,” Quarles says. “And to me, it looks the same as it did 17 years ago. School basically looks the same, feels the same as it did a hundred years ago in Idaho.”

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Department of Education Monday released the results of an independent assessment of safety and security at the state’s schools.

This assessment was recommended by a school safety task force assembled in 2012 after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Matt McCarter oversaw the task force work for the department.

Darin Oswald / The Idaho Statesman

Update 11:35 a.m.: Officials have identified the child who died in an Idaho school bus crash as 11-year-old Daniel Robert Cook.

Canyon County Coroner Vicki DeGeus-Morris confirmed the child's identity. She says the boy died of blunt force trauma sustained in Thursday morning's collision, which also injured four children.

The bus was carrying 12 kids to a Kuna elementary school when it collided with a dump truck at a rural intersection. Four children were taken to the hospital with injuries, and the bus driver was taken to a hospital for emotional distress.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s new list of school rankings came out Thursday afternoon. The number of schools receiving the highest rating, five stars, increased from the 2011-2012 school year to the 2012-2013 year. The number of one star schools declined. Nearly 160 schools went up at least one star. The highest concentration of schools continues to be in the four star category.

Adams Elementary School
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Department of Education releases its list today of school rankings for the 2012-2013 school year. It’s based on a five star system the state began last year.

Five star schools are considered high performing. Those at the bottom have to follow an improvement plan under state scrutiny. In last year’s rating list there was something most one star schools had in common: poverty. Take Boise’s Hawthorne Elementary where Beverly Boyd is principal.

Some Idaho lawmakers are upset by State Schools Superintendent Tom Luna's announcement that a $2.1 million annual statewide Wi-Fi network contract will run for up to 15 years — without prior legislative budget approval.

Luna's office said Wednesday Education Networks of America won the contract to equip as many as 340 Idaho high schools with the wireless Internet technology. Nine companies submitted bids. ENA's came in under the $2.25 million set aside by the 2013 Legislature for next year.

Gadget_Guru / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho's largest school district, Meridian, wants to revoke the charter of North Star Charter School in Eagle. North Star has filed an appeal to Idaho's State Board of Education according to Idaho Education News.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

One of Idaho’s largest charter schools might not survive the next school year. North Star Charter in Eagle has struggled financially because of a building loan it can’t pay back.

The Meridian School District, which granted its charter, plans to revoke it. If that happens, the school could shut down.

That concerns mother of eight Stephanie Zimmerman. Five of her kids have attended North Star.

Grade Map

Idaho is doing better than most states when it comes to teaching financial literacy. Vermont’s Champlain College Center for Financial Literacy graded the 50 states on efforts to produce high school graduates that know how to do things like save for retirement and buy a house.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho is one of just 10 states that don’t have state-wide pre-kindergarten education. This week our education reporter Adam Cotterell brings us a series on pre-k in Idaho. Adam joined Morning Edition host Scott Graf to preview this week’s reports.


Scott Graf: You’ll be talking about the pre-k debate in Idaho. Are others talking about this issue?   

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The Nampa School District voted Tuesday night to eliminate 27 teaching positions next fall. That’s the  latest cost cutting measure to overcome a more than $5 million deficit blamed on accounting errors.

But the state’s third largest school district has a way to go before it reaches a balanced budget next year. Adam Cotterell covers education and has covered Tuesday's  meeting. He talks with Samantha Wright about what’s next for Nampa schools.


Wright: Adam I understand it was no ordinary school board meeting.

Thirteen Idaho high school seniors have won the prestigious National Merit Scholarship for 2013. It comes with $2,500 for college and a lot of bragging rights. Most of this year’s winners could get together on their lunch break.

Idaho lawmakers last week decided not to tackle legislation on school security. The state’s Department of Education had supported it, calling it a first step toward making students safer. Improving school security now falls to the Department and its task force.  That group - made up of educators, first responders and law enforcement -started meeting in January.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Researchers at the U.S. Census Bureau have believed for some time that private school enrollment has been on the decline. Now Bureau statistician Stephanie Ewert says they’re sure. Her new report does not say why fewer students are choosing privates schools, but Ewert says the growth of charter schools may have something to do with it. Around the country she found that places where charters grew, private school enrollment got smaller.

Three Idaho school districts and a county have been honored for their websites. The non-profit government transparency organization Sunshine Review gave its annual Sunny Awards to the 247 government websites it deemed most transparent.  

The Boise, Blaine County and Caldwell School Districts made the list. Canyon was the only Idaho county to show up.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s task force for improving education finished its first phase Friday. Now it goes on to phase two, public meetings. Governor Butch Otter asked Idaho’s State Board of Education to create the task force after voters overturned laws to overhaul the state’s education system.

Empty Classroom
Karen Apricot New Orleans / Flickr Creative Commons

Updated 11:30 A.M.: Teachers, administrators and parents in the Nampa School District are likely breathing a sigh of relief. Nearly three quarters of voters said yes to a $4.3 million levy request Tuesday.