The Blaine County School District has decided to hire its own lobbyist for the 2017 legislative session.
A divided school board voted 3-2 last week to hire Phil Homer to represent the district, the Idaho Mountain Express reported. No other district has its own registered lobbyist, the Mountain Express reported.
Homer will receive $3,300 per month.
Homer is no stranger to the Blaine County district, or to Statehouse politics. He’s a former district superintendent who has lobbied for the Idaho Association of School Administrators. Homer’s status with IASA is uncertain. Executive director Rob Winslow told Idaho Education News that IASA is giving Homer some time to focus on an illness in his family.
District Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes recommended hiring Homer in a Dec. 6 memo to trustees, saying Blaine County’s funding issues need to be “accurately represented” to the Legislature. Holmes cited the work of a legislative “interim committee” that is studying Idaho’s school funding formula, although that committee is unlikely to have recommendations for the 2017 session.
“Dealing with educational issues with both the Idaho State Department of Education and State Board requires staff to dedicate multiple days each month to be away from the district on this business,” Holmes wrote. “Working on a near daily basis with the Idaho Legislature would require excessive amounts of staff time away from the district.”
(A copy of Holmes’ memo, and a draft of the contract with Homer, can be found on pages 13-19 of the board’s Dec. 13 meeting packet.)
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With the decision to hire Homer, Blaine County will no longer pay IASA for lobbying services, the Mountain Express reported.