Education news from around Idaho

Saving for college gets cheaper

Fees for state-run college savings accounts will soon be reduced.

The cost reduction takes effect Dec. 1, when management fees drop from .49% to .36% on all accounts, according to a news release from IDeal, Idaho’s college savings program.

The drop should collectively save current account holders across the state nearly $1 million, the news release states.

Officials on the IDeal Board encourage families who receive the newly rolled out federal child tax credit checks to consider putting some of the money toward college savings.

Individuals who contribute to accounts before Dec. 31 qualify for state tax deductions of up to $6,000 annually, or up to $12,000 for married people filing jointly.

“Setting aside small amounts on a regular basis for a child’s future education can add up to a bright future for students, and an IDeal 529 College Savings Account can provide a strategic investment, with state tax incentives and tax-free withdrawals on qualified expenses,” state superintendent Sherri Ybarra said in the news release.

The State College Savings Program Board is made up of Chair and State Treasurer Julie Ellsworth, Gov. Brad Little, Ybarra, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, Secretary of State Lawrence Denney and State Controller Brandon Woolf. 

Idaho students awarded for knowledge of U.S. Constitution

Three Idaho middle school students and institutions received awards in a new statewide civics competition.

The contest, open to middle schoolers and held by the Attorneys for Civic Education, focused on constitutional rights and responsibilities, according to a news release. An active Idaho Supreme Court justice, a former dean at the University of Idaho College of Law and others judged the competition.

Winners include: 

  • Audra Bunn, an eight grader at Wendell Middle School, who wrote an essay on women’s suffrage, free speech and religion. Bunn analyzed the impacts of the 19th Amendment’s passage. 
  • Adison Buzzell, an eighth grader at the Oneida district’s Idaho Home Learning Academy, wrote about free expression and the right to bear arms and vote.
  • Dylan Hughes, a seventh-grader at Boise’s North Junior High School, wrote about the right to vote by analyzing several constitutional amendments. 

“It was a delight to read so many inspiring essays and, frankly, reassuring to see that the rising generation has such a deep love for and understanding of the U.S. Constitution,” Idaho Supreme Court Justice and competition judge Gregory Moeller said in the news release.

The contest is supported by the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Section of the Idaho State Bar, the Idaho Supreme Court and the University of Idaho College of Law. Judges did not rank the top three winners.

SDE announces three new leaders

The State Department of Education named two new department heads and another education leader earlier this month, according to a news release.

The SDE promoted two staffers from within. One employee is new to the agency.

  • Bethani Studebaker, the new director for Certification and the Professional Standards Commission, comes from Northwest Nazarene University. The position on the superintendent’s team was previously filled by Colon Durham, who is now professional development director for the Idaho School Boards Association.
  • The SDE promoted Mathematics and Science Assessment Coordinator Kevin Chandler to assessment and accountability director. He has served in his previous role since March 2019.
  • Rick Kennedy, an SDE staffer who has worked for the department for nearly a decade, is now its chief procurement officer. He has served in a variety of roles at the SDE, most recently, as instructional technology coordinator for the Content and Curriculum Department.
The Idaho State Department of Education announced three new names in agency leadership: Bethani Studebaker, left, Kevin Chandler, center, and Rick Kennedy, right.
Kyle Pfannenstiel

Kyle Pfannenstiel

Reporter Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the implementation of policy in Idaho’s K-12 public school system. He’s a military brat and former health care reporter who holds degrees in Journalism and Political Science from University of Idaho. Follow Kyle on Twitter @pfannyyy. He can be reached at [email protected].

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