Ybarra names executive staff

New Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra introduced her executive staff during her first press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Ybarra first week
Superintendent Sherri Ybarra fields questions from reporters on Tuesday at the State Department of Education office.

Ybarra said the five-person team will work with her to ensure the State Department of Education supports and serves Idaho’s school districts.

Her team includes:

  • Chuck Zimmerly assumes the new position of community relations officer. Zimmerly is a former interim director of Idaho State University’s Intermountain Center for Education Excellence. Zimmerly also served on Ybarra’s campaign and transition teams. His main role in Ybarra’s administration will be to communicate and build relationships with school districts, education stakeholders and other officials. Zimmerly will also provide policy guidance to district officials and employees.
  • Will Goodman has been hired as chief technology officer. Goodman serves as the president of the Idaho Education Technology Association and has worked as a teacher, principal, interim superintendent and technology director in the past. His new role will involve supporting schools and districts in the areas of technology infrastructure and technical needs and to provide support with broadband internet questions and concerns.
  • Charlotte Silva has already been announced as Ybarra’s special education director. Silva previously worked as the Boise Independent School District’s special education supervisor.
  • Tim Corder was previously named special assistant to the superintendent under Ybarra. Corder, a former Republican state senator from Mountain Home, served in the Idaho Legislature for eight years and was a member of Ybarra’s campaign team.
  • Pete Koehler was named interim chief deputy superintendent last month. Koehler is a former interim superintendent of the Nampa School District, and said he will work in Ybarra’s administration until May or June before retiring again.

“(We) will renew the longstanding commitment to helping schools and students flourish,” Ybarra said. “Coming from the front lines of education and as a mother of a junior high-age public school student, I understand the importance of service, compassion and kindness.”

Corder said his role will be to help develop policy and to ensure legislators, stakeholders and the State Board of Education are all on the same page. In addition to building consensus, he explained that his job will also entail helping sway legislators and ensuring Ybarra is successful.

“Drawing things together, figuring out how to move that from theory to practice, that’s what I did in the Legislature,” Corder said. “I think I’ve done that all of my life; moving things from theory to practice.”

Corder added that he will also work to repair or rebuild any relationships that were damaged during his 2012 primary election campaign, when he was defeated by Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson. During that campaign, Gov. Butch Otter endorsed Brackett over Corder.

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Although Ybarra introduced her executive staff, she declined to address employment decisions regarding dozens of other people who have worked at the State Department of Education under her predecessor, Tom Luna. Ybarra also to declined to say how many other hires she planned to make, saying those were personnel decisions.

“We are not coming in to replace anybody, by any stretch of the imagination,” Ybarra said.

She added that her team is still in transition and additional, future changes could be possible.

Ybarra was sworn in during private ceremonies Monday morning. Public ceremonies for Gov. Butch Otter, Ybarra and other constitutional officers are scheduled for Friday at the Statehouse.

In order to gear up for her new job, Ybarra moved into an office at the State Department of Education in November and worked with Luna and a 19-member transition team that included several lawmakers and school district superintendents. Ybarra thanked her team publicly Tuesday, saying they provided a lot of expertise that she benefited from.

“We spent a lot of time talking about what the public’s needs were, the school districts’ needs and what were some of the perceptions of the public,” Ybarra said.

Ybarra said the team met approximately three or four times after her election, and that future meetings are planned.

Shortly before Ybarra’s press conference, Idaho Falls Rep. Wendy Horman, a member of the transition team, said she met with Ybarra’s team twice.

In other news from Ybarra’s press conference, Department of Education spokesman Brady Moore clarified that Ybarra’s budget presentation to the Legislature’s Joint-Finance-Appropriations Committee is scheduled for Jan. 29, not Jan. 28.

More than 35 people attended the press conference, including new Senate Education Committee Chairman Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, Idaho Education Association spokesman Dave Harbison, members of Ybarra’s executive team and several SDE staffers.