Schools chief Sherri Ybarra is making it official, formally launching her re-election bid today.
Ybarra, a Republican from Mountain Home, was elected superintendent of public instruction in 2014.
She first told Idaho Education News in a videotaped interview in December 2015 that she would seek a second term in 2018.
But Ybarra put her campaign on hold this summer, telling Idaho Education News in August, and again in September, that she wasn’t ready to launch a formal campaign.
At the time, Ybarra said she had work to do. She wanted to finish her 2018-19 budget request and Idaho’s plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act before transitioning into campaign mode.
On Wednesday, Ybarra made the news official via campaign press release.
“I’ve been honored and blessed to serve as the state’s superintendent of public instruction,” Ybarra said in the written announcement. “Idaho continues to need strong, experienced leadership to make sure our students are getting the education they deserve.”
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Ybarra is the second Republican to jump into the race. Wilder Superintendent Jeff Dillon filed campaign paperwork in April. The two will meet in the May 15 GOP primary.
No Democrat has filed to run for state superintendent, although the filing deadline is not until March.
The winner of the November 2018 election will earn a four-year term.
In her press release, Ybarra said she filed her declaration of candidacy today, but the first day for candidates to file official declarations of candidacy with the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office or local county clerk isn’t until Feb. 26. State records show Ybarra initially filed paperwork appointing a campaign treasurer in 2014.
During an interview last month, Ybarra told Idaho Education News she is proud of the relationships that she has developed and the tone she has set for education.
“I’m looking forward to talking about some of the success under my leadership and what my team has done for the kids of Idaho,” Ybarra said. “My team is working really hard to get the message out that we are very supportive of students, educators and parents.”
Although Ybarra reported raising just $900 for her re-election campaign through the first half of 2017, she has begun to piece together a team.
Event planner CheRee Eveland has served as Ybarra’s campaign point of contact. And Ybarra announced via her website that Landon Smyser will serve as her campaign manager. Smyser is the son of newly appointed Idaho Department of Labor Director Melinda Smyser and Skip Smyser, one of the state’s most sought-after lobbyists. Both Melinda and Skip Smyser have served in the Legislature.
In her campaign announcement, Ybarra listed six accomplishments from her first term.
“Based on your feedback and concerns, we have created standards with public input the Idaho way, from the ground up and are now teaching the Idaho Content Standards,” Ybarra wrote in her announcement.
Ybarra, the State Department of Education and the Legislature reviewed Idaho’s academic standards over the previous two years and approved minor changes to some standards. They also renamed the standards, although essentially little has changed from the Idaho Core Standards the Legislature approved in 2011. Additionally, Idaho remains a member of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which creates and administers a test aligned to Common Core standards.
Other standards, notably science standards, are heading back to the Legislature in 2018. Lawmakers approved them on a temporary basis after removing five references to human impact on the environment and climate change.
Ybarra added, “We have seen steady increases in graduation rates over the past two years proving we are on the right track.”
Idaho’s graduation rates for the past three years are as follows:
- 2013-14: 77.3 percent.
- 2014-15: 78.9 percent.
- 2015-16: 79.5 percent.
Before her election in 2014, Ybarra has served as a teacher, building principal and federal programs director.
Disclosure: During the 2017 legislative session, Skip Smyser served as a lobbyist for the Idaho Press Club. Idaho Education News reporter Clark Corbin serves on the board of directors for the Idaho Press Club, and worked with Smyser in that capacity.