Otters education reform task force to meet Friday
The group has 31 members, including lawmakers, school superintendents, teachers, parents and business leaders. It is scheduled to meet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Otter has said he wants the Task Force for Improving Education to address the need for school improvements in Idaho now that the short-lived Students Come First package of legislation has been repealed by voters. New legislation for education reform should wait until next year, after the task force has done its work, he said.
The panels Friday meeting is at the Yanke Research Center, 220 ParkCenter Blvd. in Boise.
Members of the task force include proponents of Students Come First, including Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and Senate Education Committee Chair John Goedde, and leading opponents, including Idaho Education Association President Penni Cyr and Mike Lanza, co-chair of Parents and Teachers Together.
The panel will be chaired by State Board of Education member Richard Westerberg. Other members and their affiliations are: Doug Baker, University of Idaho; Laurie Boeckel, Idaho Parent Teacher Association; Roger Brown, governors office; Cheryl Charlton, Idaho Digital Learning Academy; Linda Clark, Meridian school superintendent; Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, chair of the House Education Committee; Karen Echeverria, director of the Idaho School Board Association (ISBA); Ken Edmunds, State Board; Wayne Freedman, past ISBA president; Steve Higgins, Grangeville High School principal; Mary Huff, Melba School Board; Teresa Jackman, IEA, Pocatello; Alex LaBeau, Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry; Rod Lewis, State Board; Bob Lokken, Idaho Business for Education; Alan Millar, Idaho Charter School Network; Phyllis Nichols, New Plymouth School District counselor; Katie Pemberton of Coeur dAlene, Idahos 2013 Teacher of the Year; Roger Quarles, Idaho Leads Project; Mary Ann Ranells, Lakeland School District superintendent; Anne Ritter, Meridian School Board; Brian Smith, Sandpoint teacher; Geoffrey Thomas, Madison School District superintendent; Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise; Cindy Wilson, Meridian teacher; and Rob Winslow, Idaho Association of School Administrators.
Legislature looks at leftover money
Idaho lawmakers have at least three options for $30.6 million that the repeal of Lunas education overhaul left stranded ahead of the 2013 Legislature.
The Legislatures education analyst, Paul Headlee, told budget writers Wednesday that they could simply bank the money in public education rainy-day accounts. They also could use it to restore programs eliminated by the Nov. 6 vote, including nearly $850,000 to pay for high school students to earn college credits and nearly $5 million to pay for math and science teachers.
And, perhaps most controversial, they could take the money, which amounts to about 2.4 percent of this year's $1.28 billion public education budget, and redirect it for other uses within state government possibly personal property tax repeal, as some lawmakers have suggested.
Monsanto worried about effect on eastern Idaho
One of the states biggest companies isnt pushing to eliminate the personal property tax on business equipment on grounds that such a move could undermine services in Caribou County.
Monsanto government affairs director Trent Clark said Tuesday that the St. Louis-based maker of Roundup herbicide believes there are problems with the tax, whose repeal Gov. Otter has named as a 2013 priority.
But local governments and schools in Caribou County, where Monsanto has phosphate mining and refining operations, depend on the tax for more than 40 percent of their revenue for roads, education and law enforcement.
Clark said the potential that repeal could send local officials scrambling to preserve those services or shift costs to others convinced Monsanto to refrain from joining the legislative fight.