The Senate Education Committee this morning approved letters to the state Board of Education and to Gov. Butch Otter summing up their findings from months of complaints and a dramatic hearing in which the senators grilled state board members about their handling of the ISAT testing program, a million-dollar budget deficit and the scramble to save a federal grant. Said Sen. Dick Sagness, D-Pocatello, “I am very pleased with what we’ve been able to accomplish. I think it bodes well for the future.” Committee Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, said, “With no objection, I will put these on letterhead and I will submit them to the governor’s office and the office of the state board, and I will personally deliver the governor’s copy.” Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, said it’s been “a historic year in the education committee,” and complimented Goedde for his leadership. The senators also praised state board public information officer Mark Browning for consistently attending the panel’s meetings and promptly providing them with board information they requested.
The letter to the board members recommends that the board get annual refreshers on open meetings laws and policies and procedures for expenditure of funds, and calls for the board to “set a minimum attendance standard for its members and enforce it.” It also calls for a nationwide search for a new executive director. The letter to the governor recommends that the board “return to its constitutional mandate to provide ‘general supervision’ over education in Idaho,” rather than administer programs itself.