Gov. Butch Otter mentioned education funding, possible reform and successes in universities and colleges during his annual State of the State address Monday afternoon. His speech lasted about 40 minutes and was presented to the Legislature. Here is what he said about education:
I am submitting a budget recommendation today calling for a 3.1-percent increase in General Fund spending. That reflects slow but steady growth in our economy – an estimated 5.3-percent revenue increase for fiscal year 2014. …
My highest priority remains public schools. You will find that my budget recommendation includes increased funding for K-12 education. …
We are putting a total of almost $71 million in the Budget and Public Education stabilization funds by the end of this fiscal year. For next year, I’m calling for that effort to continue as a hedge against national and global economic and fiscal uncertainty.
I do NOT seek to simply revisit issues related to school improvement that were raised in the recent election. Instead, I’ve asked the State Board of Education to assemble a broad cross-section of stakeholders to study the message voters sent us and identify elements of school improvement on which there is broad agreement.
I’m convinced that acting too quickly or without due deliberation will generate needless distraction from our goals of improving efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability in our education system.
There was no electoral mandate for the changes we proposed on November 6th. But I also heard no clarion call for the status quo.
What I heard was dissatisfaction with the process and a plea for more collaborative leadership. We must respond with appropriate sensitivity and care.
Let me say it again: I am neither calling for nor expecting major school improvement measures this year. But I believe there are areas in which we can make progress, and I encourage you and all citizens to engage in that public discussion. It’s our very best chance to strengthen the foundation of our future.
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
Commerce Director Jeff Sayer, Labor Director Roger Madsen and the State Board of Education, our universities and our community colleges are preparing our workforce, encouraging our employers and putting the right policies and programs in place for a more prosperous Idaho.
NORTH IDAHO COLLEGE
At North Idaho College, new President Joe Dunlap is using a $3 million federal grant to create an aerospace center in Coeur d’Alene to meet the workforce demands of a growing industry in the Panhandle. It’s a watershed event for the region. Such employers as Empire Aerospace, Tamarack Aerospace and Quest Aircraft are building a critical mass of manufacturing, service and support operations.
Growing a highly skilled northern Idaho workforce will help advance that process.
COLLEGE OF WESTERN IDAHO
At the College of Western Idaho, President Bert Glandon is working with the Idaho Technology Council on developing an industry certified software developer program to help address a chronic shortage of qualified workers for the growing technology sector here in the Treasure Valley.
CWI also recently opened an impressive Professional Technical Education center in Nampa to help meet rapidly expanding employer and student needs.
COLLEGE OF SOUTHERN IDAHO
At the College of Southern Idaho, new and growing businesses like Chobani and Glanbia have President Jerry Beck working to accommodate the workforce needs of the Magic Valley’s rapidly expanding value-added industry by building an $8.5 million Applied Technology and Innovation Center.
I would be remiss today if I failed to extend my gratitude to the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation for its continued generous financial support of Idaho education.
It most recently granted $5 million to the University of Idaho and Northwest Nazarene University to establish technology learning and innovation centers for teachers.
That’s a godsend for our efforts to improve and expand technology in Idaho classrooms, and I’m confident it will result in development of more educators like Katie Pemberton of Canfield Middle School in Coeur d’Alene.
TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Many of you know that Katie Pemberton of Canfield Middle School in Coeur d’Alene is our 2013 Idaho Teacher of the Year, and she’s earned that recognition in part by making technology a cornerstone of her math classes at Canfield.