Empowering Parents advisory group finishes its work


An advisory panel has wrapped up its review of the Empowering Parents education microgrant program.

The group’s recommendations go to the State Board of Education in October.

The parent advisory panel held its final meeting Thursday in Lewiston, putting the finishing touches on its summer work.

There weren’t any big surprises in the committee’s list of recommendations, since most of the panel’s work was already done. As expected, the committee wants to expand Empowering Parents, which families have used largely to cover internet, computers or curricular materials.

The panel wants the taxpayer-funded grants to cover a variety of additional items, including:

  • Educational camps and classes.
  • Education equipment, such as backpacks and computer cases.
  • Fees for co-ops for homeschool students.
  • Physical education equipment, uniforms, or sports pay-to-play fees.
  • Extracurricular activities.
  • Musical instruments and tutoring.
  • Costumes and uniforms for camps, classes, or school events.

Last week, the panel came out against adding private school tuition and fees to the Empowering Parents menu. The Legislature considered this idea in 2023, and it’s likely to resurface in 2024.

The panel — appointed by Gov. Brad Little, Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder and House Speaker Mike Moyle — was assigned to suggest ways to “implement, administer and improve” Empowering Parents.

The grant program launched last fall, using $50 million one-time pandemic aid. But this spring, the Legislature made the program permanent, earmarking $30 million in state tax dollars.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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