Ideas not on the short list won’t be left for dead

State officials say they won’t abandon a series of preliminary recommendations that didn’t make the list of top priorities for Gov. Brad Little’s education task force.

“I was very clear at the very first meeting and throughout the process that good ideas are good ideas whether they make the governor’s short list or not,” task force co-chair and State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield said.

For the past five months, members of the “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” task force and its subcommittees have developed 11 potential recommendations that touched on everything from school safety to state savings accounts.

Earlier this month, the full task force gave Critchfield and task force co-chair Bill Gilbert consensus to prioritize four of those recommendations and develop a fifth recommendation this month.

Recommendations that didn’t make the full task force’s priority list include:

  • Implementing a series of uniform school safety terms and protocols known as the Idaho Standard Command Responses for Schools.
  • Increasing the balance of, and minimizing future withdrawals from, the state’s education savings account, the Public Education Stabilization Fund.
  • Continuing to expand teacher training to help educators grow professionally and increase student achievement.
  • Rewarding and incentivizing collaboration for rural, remote and underserved schools to improve student opportunities and outcomes.
  • Increasing access to industry aligned career-technical education (CTE) programs in rural and remote districts.

The plan was always to keep the list of recommendations short for Little, said Greg Wilson, Little’s education liaison.

“They are not going to die by any stretch of the imagination, this is just a natural component of the disciplining process,” Wilson said.

Throughout the summer, budget prioritization and funding scarcity were themes for the task force and its subcommittee.

Cost is clearly a factor in the equation and task force leaders know the state won’t be able to afford to implement all of the recommendations at once.

“The fact that we have more recommendations than what our bank account can afford really confirms the level of passion about moving Idaho forward,” Critchfield said.

The full task force isn’t expected to vote on approving its final recommendations until Nov. 4, so it is too early to tell exactly how many recommendations it will approve or what will happen to specific ones that don’t make the final list.

But once the task force issues its final report, the State Board will look at picking up some of the recommendations that didn’t make the short list.

It may partner with other state agencies or develop rules to implement the ideas. Some legislators are also expressing an interest in certain recommendations, and would have the ability to draft a bill for the 2020 session.

The school safety response protocol recommendation is a good example of how a recommendation might move forward even without making the final cut. Brian Armes, manager of the Idaho Office of School Safety and Security, has already worked with Meridian Police and several different schools to adopt the terms and protocols this year. Armes participated in several task force meetings this summer and said his staff will continue to work with other schools and state officials to implement the recommendation long after the task force wraps up its final meeting.

“The things that came out task force will still remain important to us in our mission,” Armes said. “Certainly the four commands and establishing good statewide protocols is a very important piece of that.”

Further reading: Click here to read about the five task force recommendations that did make the priority list.


Clark Corbin

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