Task force’s $34 million is on the table

The governor’s Education Task Force will not make recommendations to the 2013 Legislature, leaving $34 million in legislative limbo.

Gov. Butch Otter and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna both allocated in their education budgets $34 million to pay for task force recommendations.

Meeting with reporters Friday morning, Otter said his budget has no Plan B for the $34 million — and he indicated that the money could now be up for grabs.

“Outside the task force, we have a lot of recommendations for what to do with the $34 million,” Otter said at an Idaho Press Club forum.

Luna said the money should stay in education, but there is “no meat on the bones of a Plan B” yet.

Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, a member of the task force and chair of the Senate Education Committee, said he hopes the money is kept in the education budget and assigned to one-time expenditures so it can be given back to the task force in 2014.

“We can use the money for additional professional development or hardware,” he said. “That’s my hope.”

Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, a member of the task force and chair of the House Education Committee, agreed that the money should stay in education and that task force members have brought up good ideas to consider, such as professional development for Common Core implementation.

“I’m only one vote but that’s what I’m going to fight for,” DeMordaunt said of keeping the money in education.

The Legislature ultimately has the responsibility of spending that money with options that include giving it to K-12, putting it into an education savings account or directing it to another agency.

Education Task Force Chairman Richard Westerberg said the group will get public input from around the state before making recommendations, and that will take months. The plan is to set up public hearings and an electronic bulletin board.

The 31-member task force met all day Friday on the Boise State University campus. The members split into five focus groups — professional development, teacher effectiveness, fiscal stability, technology and structure. The groups meet most of the day and developed ideas from their topics. Those ideas were shared and vetted with the whole group. (Highlights of those ideas are at the bottom of this report and will be posted in full next week on the State Board website).

The task force will meet again on March 15 to discuss the ideas developed on Friday. Anyone and everyone will have the opportunity to offer feedback and that feedback will be considered with the full task force later this year, Westerberg said.

The task force began its Friday meeting by listening to presentations about preparing teachers in Idaho Common Core State Standards from Jennifer Snow (Boise State University) and Paula Kellerer (Northwest Nazarene University). Also presenting was Allison Henken of the State Board of Education, speaking on successful teacher preparation models, and the State Department of Education’s Nick Smith about professional development plans around Common Core.

Highlights of ideas developed by the task force:

Professional development — The  No. 1 priority is the Common Core, Smarter Balance and technology.

Teacher effectiveness — Should be changed to teacher and administrator effectiveness. This includes increasing mentoring and creating effective evaluation. With that comes accountability, and increasing the amount of training and use of tools in practice.

Fiscal stability — The priority is identifying a funding model that follows the student, but the focus of funding should be on student membership, not attendance. Another goal: gaining consistency with the salary model.

Technology —First, identify what Idaho needs. Make sure every student has access to any course he or she wants to take. Review what resources exist and identify what’s needed.

Structure — Decisions should be made as close to the student as possible. Unleash capacity at the local level. Identify the skills students must have to be successful. Create an accountability system, and with that comes consequences.

Members of the task force:

Richard Westerberg, Chair State Board of Education
Doug Baker University of Idaho
Laurie Boeckel Idaho Parent Teacher Association
Roger Brown Governor’s Office
Cheryl Charlton Idaho Digital Learning Academy
Linda Clark IASA, Joint School Dist. No. 2 (Meridian)
Penni Cyr Idaho Education Association (IEA)
Reed DeMordaunt (R) Idaho House of Representatives
Karen Echeverria Idaho School Boards Association (ISBA)
Ken Edmunds State Board of Education
Wayne Freedman ISBA Past President
John Goedde (R) Idaho State Senate
Steve Higgins IASA, Grangeville School Dist.
Mary Huff ISBA, Melba School Board Member
Teresa Jackman IEA, Pocatello
Alex LaBeau Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry
Mike Lanza IEA, ID Parents & Teachers IPATT
Rod Lewis State Board of Education
Bob Lokken Idaho Business for Education
Tom Luna Superintendent of Public Instruction
Alan Millar Idaho Charter School Network
Phyllis Nichols Counselor, New Plymouth School Dist.
Katie Pemberton Coeur d’Alene School Dist.
Roger Quarles Idaho Leads Project
Mary Ann Ranells IASA, Lakeland School Dist.
Anne Ritter ISBA President, Meridian School Board Member
Brian Smith IEA, Sandpoint
Geoffrey Thomas IASA, Madison School Dist.
Janie Ward-Engelking (D) Idaho House of Representatives
Cindy Wilson IEA, Meridian
Rob Winslow Idaho Association of School Administrators (IASA)


Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over two million pageviews a year. Jennifer has more than 35 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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