This summer, new Gov. Brad Little will get his first chance to make an imprint on Idaho’s State Board of Education.
Two board members, Don Soltman and Richard Westerberg, will step down when their terms end on June 30.
“I want to thank Don and Richard for their unwavering service and dedication to Idaho’s students. They both leave a legacy and a strong foundation to continue our efforts in fulfilling our state’s constitutional responsibility for public education,” Little said in a news release Wednesday. “It’s no secret that education is one of my top priorities as Governor. Filling these positions with the right candidates for the task is crucial as we aspire to keep improving Idaho’s K-20 education system.”
State Board appointees wield considerable power. The board is responsible for charting Idaho’s K-12 and higher education policy. The governor has considerable impact on the board’s makeup, since seven of its eight members are appointees. (Idaho’s superintendent of public instruction automatically gets a seat on the State Board.)
Soltman and Westerberg have served a combined 22 years on the board.
Soltman, of Twin Lakes, is a 10-year board member. Among other duties, he served on the state committee that drew up the state’s science graduation standards. Before joining the board, Soltman served on the state’s Professional Standards Commission, which reviews teacher certification.
Westerberg, of Preston, has been on the board since 2007. A retired PacifiCorp officer and former Preston school trustee, Westerberg chaired then-Gov. Butch Otter’s K-12 task force in 2013. That group issued 20 far-reaching recommendations that have shaped Idaho education policy over the past five years — covering everything from teacher pay to classroom technology to school funding.
State Board members serve five-year terms, and appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.