State has $7.6 million for career-technical grants — and a plan for spending the money

The state will receive nearly $7.6 million in federal funding for career-technical education in 2019, and it has a short-term plan in place for the money.

Moving quickly Thursday, the State Board of Education adopted a one-year “transition plan” that paves the way for Idaho’s Career and Technical Education division to award federally funded grants.

Idaho’s $7.6 million comes from the renewed Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. Passed with bipartisan support, and signed by President Trump in July, the Perkins Act earmarks $1.2 billion for CTE programs nationwide.

But there’s a paperwork requirement. States must submit a detailed plan to the feds.

It is akin to state requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the comprehensive federal law that governs K-12 policy. Under the Perkins Act, states must come up with CTE performance metrics “in consultation with stakeholders,” State Board staff noted in a memo to board members, prepared for Thursday’s meeting.

Idaho hasn’t figured out its accountability measures yet. And by opting to turn in a transition plan, the state buys some time to work this out. The feds will require performance metrics by April 30, the state’s deadline for turning in a comprehensive four-year CTE plan.

Idaho’s CTE division will spend the summer and fall working with education and business groups, and could be back before the board with a long-term proposal by the end of the year, division director Dwight Johnson told the board Thursday.

The feds’ general goals go beyond metrics. They want CTE course offerings to match local labor market demands, they want better alignment between high school and college CTE programs and they want states to look at their programs annually, to make sure they are serving special-needs students.

The federal money comes as the state’s education, business and political leaders are paying increased attention to CTE. Many state leaders say CTE can play a pivotal role in Idaho’s pursuit of its elusive “60 percent goal.” The state wants 60 percent of its 25- to 34-year-olds to complete some education beyond high school — be it two- or four-year college or CTE.

The board approved the one-year plan during a brief conference call Thursday. One board member, David Hill, took part by phone from a hotel airport in London. Two other board members missed the 6-0 vote: Linda Clark and state superintendent Sherri Ybarra were absent.

Clark was on a vacation she had scheduled months earlier, said Allison Duman, the board’s executive assistant. Ybarra is taking Thursday and Friday off for her son’s graduation, spokeswoman Kris Rodine said Thursday. But according to a weekly schedule — released to the news media Monday by Ybarra’s staff Monday — Ybarra had one meeting scheduled at State Department of Education headquarters Thursday afternoon, 30 minutes before the State Board’s meeting.

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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