Administrators kick off conference in Boise

BOISE — More than 450 school, charter and district administrators from across the state ended their summer breaks at a networking and training conference in Boise this week.

Wednesday marked the first day of the Idaho Association of School Administrators summer leadership conference. The first day of the event, held at the Boise Centre, gave superintendents, principals and special education directors a chance to attend sessions featuring lawmakers and training programs devoted to implementing new laws and policy.

The event continues Thursday and Friday morning before education leaders head back to their schools and districts to prepare for first days of school by the end of the month.

In one of Wednesday’s handful of workshops, a legislative panel comprised of representatives from the governor’s office, State Board of Education and the Legislature fielded questions from roughly 200 school administrators.

IASA
Idaho administrators join together for trainings and networking during the annual Idaho Association of School Administrators conference in Boise.

Administrators probed members of the panel about “top priorities” for education in the upcoming school year.

Marilyn Whitney, senior special assistant for education and government services, sat in on the panel. She told the group that continued funding of the state’s $56 million career ladder, or teacher pay, was “first” on the governor’s list of priorities.

Concerns over statewide teacher shortages also surfaced during the panel discussion – something that prompted Superintendent Sherri Ybarra’s Chief Deputy Pete Koehlor to call for a “climate change” in state education.

“There has to be a psychological push that tells people that (teaching) is a high-value profession,” he said. “We also have to make it a profession that an individual can make a living at it.”

Other concerns from education leaders included the resurrection of efforts to amend the so-called Blaine Amendment, which stipulates that public dollars will not be spent for private education in Idaho, as well as effective use of the state’s leadership premiums in districts throughout the state.

“Use the premiums creatively,” said House Education Committee Vice Chairwoman Rep. Julie VanOrden. “We are trying to give you as much leverage as you can have to be able to attract and keep teachers.”

Conference events will continue throughout the rest of the week. On Thursday, IASA officials will recognize Idaho’s top principals, special educators and the group’s superintendent of the year during an awards luncheon.

Here’s a partial rundown of events scheduled for Thursday and Friday. (The full convention schedule is available online):

Thursday

  • 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.: Keynote, Eric Sheninger.
  • 9:45- 11:45 a.m.: Workshops.
  • 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.: Awards luncheon.
  • 2:15 – 3:15 p.m.: Workshops.

Friday

  • 8:00 a.m.: Educator rallies.
  • 9:45 a.m.: Closing session.