Keough named to State Board

(UPDATED, Sept. 30, to correct that Keough is the longest-serving female senator in state history.)

A longtime state legislator is the newest member of the State Board of Education.

Gov. Brad Little has named Shawn Keough of Sandpoint to fill one of two vacancies on the board, a powerful eight-member panel that charts K-12 and higher education policy for the state.

Shawn Keough and Brad Little confer during a break on the Senate floor during the 2016 legislative session. At the time, Keough was in her 20th year in the Senate; Little was lieutenant governor, and the Senate’s presiding officer. On Thursday, Little appointed Keough to the State Board of Education.

“Idaho’s Constitution is very clear about the state’s commitment to public education and the value it brings to our citizens,” Keough said in a news release Thursday. “I have always been and remain passionate about public education – K-through-career – and I look forward to serving.”

The executive director of the Associated Logging Contractors, Keough has a long track record in the public sector.

She served in the state Senate for 22 years, and spent 18 of those 22 years on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, a House-Senate panel that writes budget bills for K-12, colleges and universities and other state agencies. She co-chaired JFAC from 2015 through 2018.

Keough also sat on the Senate Education Committee in 2015.

Keough was the senior member of the Senate when she decided not to seek re-election in 2018. Her 22 years of service also makes her the longest-tenured female senator in state history.

Most recently, Keough has played a prominent role on Little’s K-12 task force, Our Kids, Idaho’s Future. She has chaired a task force subcommittee focused on teacher pipeline issues.

“Shawn displays the right demeanor and vision to help Idaho’s public education system serve our communities and prepare students for careers and a lifetime of learning,” Little said Thursday.

State Board President Debbie Critchfield touted Keough’s Statehouse experience.

“Shawn Keough is an outstanding addition to the Idaho State Board of Education,” Critchfield said. “Her interest in education and 20-plus years as a state senator will be a great asset to the board and for public education in Idaho.”

Keough replaces Don Soltman of Twin Lakes, who stepped down in May after 10 years on the State Board. Keough’s appointment also maintains a North Idaho presence on the board. Traditionally, governors have tried to appoint board members from across the state, but they are not required to do so.

Little is not done filling out the State Board. He must also replace Richard Westerberg of Preston, a 12-year board member who also announced his plans to step down in May. Little is still considering candidates for this spot, and Westerberg will continue to serve in the interim.

Thirty-eight people applied for the two board vacancies.

State Board appointees such as Keough serve five-year terms, subject to Senate confirmation. The governor appoints seven members to the board, and the superintendent of public instruction automatically gets the eighth spot on the board.

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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