Jensen: Give to schools, not campaign

State schools superintendent candidate Randy Jensen says he doesn’t want money from his supporters.

Instead, the says he’d like to see supporters donate to the school of their choice — and take advantage of several state and federal tax breaks in the process.

Randy Jensen
American Falls Republican Randy Jensen, announcing his candidacy at the Statehouse in January.

“For the same out-of-pocket expense someone can donate $500 to a school or $100 to my campaign,” Jensen, an American Falls principal, said in a news release Monday. “I would rather a school of the donor’s choice get $500.”

Jensen points out that a state school tax credit can cover up to 50 percent of an individual, family or corporate donation to a school. Other tax credits and deductions can further reduce the out-of-pocket cost.

Jensen is one of four Republicans running in the May 20 GOP primary, along with John Eynon of Grangeville, Andy Grover of Melba and Sherri Ybarra of Mountain Home. Jana Jones of Idaho Falls is the lone Democrat in the race.

It is unclear yet how much money Jensen — or anyone — has raised in this race. All five candidates launched their campaigns earlier this year, and did not have to file annual fundraising reports for 2013. Their pre-primary reports are due May 13.

Here’s the news release from the Jensen campaign:

After November, campaign signs, fliers and buttons will have no more than nostalgic value. According to Randy Jensen his purpose for running for the office of superintendent of public instruction is to add value to Idaho schools.

“From the very beginning of this campaign I said I was running to help Idaho students. I believe I have the experience and understanding to make Idaho schools better in the next four years. If we honestly look at the campaign process, leaflets, mailers, stickers and yard signs will get my name out there, but after November what help is a yard sign with my name on it to a student in Post Falls or Rexburg?” asked Jensen.

Rather than donating to his political campaign Jensen is asking Idahoans to donate to their local schools and take advantage of the Idaho Education Tax Credit. Individuals can receive a tax credit of 50 percent on donations up to $1,000, couples filing jointly can receive the same credit on a donation up to $2,000 and Idaho corporations can receive a 50% tax credit on donations up to $10,000. There are other deductions available as well those making a qualifying Idaho Education Tax Credit donation that file an itemized return can include the donation on their state and federal tax returns as charitable donations.

An individual or couple in the 25 percent tax bracket making a $500 donation to their local school would be eligible for an Idaho Education Tax Credit of $250, federal deduction of $125 and an Idaho tax deduction of $39. The original $500 donation would then only cost that individual or couple $86 out-of-pocket.

“For the same out-of-pocket expense someone can donate $500 to a school or $100 to my campaign. I would rather a school of the donor’s choice get $500. Few people are aware of the great tax advantage of donating to schools.” Jensen added.

Donors can ask districts to use their donations for the program of their choice.  They could buy library books, donate to the band, choir or technology.

“As a school administrator I would use a $500 donation to buy books for our school library,” said Jensen.

Here is what other educators around the state say they would spend $500 on to better the schools they run:

  • Andy Wiseman, Castleford High School: “More student attendance incentives.”
  • Matt Schvaneveldt, Kimberly Middle School: “Classroom technology.”
  • JoAnne Greear, Jenifer Junior High, Lewiston: “I would invite teachers to write mini-grants to fund classroom needs.”
  • Jim Brown, Bridge Academy, Twin Falls: “Evening Parent-Programs that include dinners.”

Jensen said asking citizens to make a donation to their local schools rather than his campaign is about returning focus to helping students.

“Campaigns are a prolonged job interview. By asking you to donate to students and not to my campaign I am really asking you to join in my vision for the office of Idaho superintendent of public instruction. That vision is to do everything we possibly can to give Idaho students every advantage imaginable,” Jensen said.

For more information about the Education Tax Credit contact your local school district office or visit

Each financial situation is unique and must be evaluated as such. Consult a financial adviser to determine specifics of your particular situation.


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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