Sherri Ybarra has tapped former Nampa interim superintendent Pete Koehler to help lead her administration and serve as interim chief deputy.
Ybarra broke the news during a lengthy interview with Idaho Education News on Wednesday morning.
In 2013, Koehler – then principal of Nampa High School and an assistant superintendent – was brought in to help steer the district through a tumultuous transitional period, emerge from a budget crisis and restore trust in the district.
Hiring Koehler ensures that the top two posts at the State Department of Education will be held by educators during the new administration.
Ybarra is a federal programs director and administrator in the Mountain Home School District, a position she will continue to hold until she is sworn in on Jan. 5. She has also taught and served as a principal and vice principal in the district.
Ybarra also confirmed that former Mountain Home Republican Sen. Tim Corder will serve in her administration as special assistant to the superintendent – a full-time position. Corder served as one of the chairmen of her campaign team.
Ybarra declined to reveal other staffing decisions – including employment prospects for dozens of staffers working under outgoing Superintendent Tom Luna.
“Out of respect for them it just wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on any of those positions right now,” Ybarra said.
Since her Election Day win last month, Ybarra has also assembled a 19-person transition team to help gear up for the new job.
Former Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Jerry Evans leads the transition team, which includes the superintendents of five school districts and several current and former Idaho lawmakers.
“I’m looking forward to a couple of meetings and getting their input, but they are not a decision-making body,” Ybarra said. “These are people who bring expertise to the table, and in order for the transition to be smooth, those folks are at the table giving input.”
Ybarra’s transition team
- Jerry Evans, former Idaho superintendent of public instruction
- Chuck Zimmerly, former interim director of Idaho State University’s Intermountain Center for Education Excellence
- Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint
- Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls
- Former Rep. Mark Snodgrass
- Former Rep. Max Black
- Former Sen. and Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Bert Marley, D-Boise
- Former Sen. Jim Hammond
- Former Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home
- Retired Idaho Adjutant General Darrel Manning
- Vallivue Superintendent Pat Charlton
- Mike Friend
- Caldwell Superintendent Tim Rosandick
- Twin Falls Superintendent Wiley Dobbs
- Post Falls Superintendent Jerry Keane
- Plummer-Worley Superintendent Judi Sharrett
- Retired Boise deputy superintendent Pete Bailey
- Jo Ann Bujarski
- Melinda Nothern