Boise superintendent to retire

(UPDATED, 4:39 p.m., with comments from trustees.)

Boise school Superintendent Don Coberly is retiring, and trustees will meet Thursday to discuss a “succession plan.”

The news went public late Wednesday morning — but without a public appearance or a news release. Instead, the announcement came via a terse meeting agenda posted on the district’s website.

Trustees will hold a special meeting at noon Thursday at the District Services Center, 8169 W. Victory Road. The agenda includes only two items: accepting the superintendent’s retirement, and approving a superintendent succession plan.

Coberly will retire at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

“Things are going very well in the district,” Coberly said Wednesday. “I am looking forward to starting the next chapter of my life. That’s all there is to it.”

Coberly is an alumnus of Boise’s Borah High School. He has spent nearly 35 years working in the Boise district, moving up the ranks from teaching in several elementary schools to serving as language arts supervisor and curriculum coordinator. He has been superintendent since July 2010, when he succeeded Stan Olson.

“We honor Dr. Coberly for an exceptional career and are very fortunate that his career has been in the Boise School District,” school board President Nancy Gregory said in an email Wednesday afternoon.

During his tenure as superintendent, Boise schools have outperformed state averages on a variety of metrics. The district’s 2017 graduation rate was 82.9 percent, above Idaho’s overall rate of 79.7 percent. The district’s 2017 college go-on rate was 54 percent, compared to a statewide rate of 45 percent. Most recently, 57.3 percent of Boise’s kindergarten through third-grade students scored at grade level on the state’s reading assessment this fall, compared to 52.5 percent of students statewide.

Boise’s performance runs counter to demographics; the district’s student poverty rates are also slightly higher than the state as a whole.

“I believe his legacy as a superintendent will be remembered as one that elevated our district to one of the best in the state,” said trustee Troy Rohn, who praised Coberly as a “data guy” who used hard evidence to inform policy decisions.

During Coberly’s tenure, Boise voters also overwhelmingly approved a $172.5 million bond issue to rebuild several older schools and refurbish other aging schools. The March 2017 measure passed with 86 percent support.

As superintendent of schools in Idaho’s capital city, Coberly also was prominent in statewide education circles. He was commonly seen at the Statehouse for legislative hearings on education issues.

With an enrollment of roughly 25,800, Boise is the state’s second-largest school district.

Similarly, the Boise superintendent’s job is also one of the highest-paying jobs in Idaho education. Coberly earned $172,228 in 2016-17, second only to Blaine County superintendent GwenCarol Holmes.

Trustees were tight-lipped Wednesday about the succession process.

“It would not be appropriate for me to comment at this time,” said Rohn, referring the question to Gregory.

Said Gregory: “Tomorrow, the board will set the course for moving forward.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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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