It might seem odd that during these tight times, the state Department of Education is announcing eight new staffers for a new division to oversee all statewide, federally mandated student testing and the GEAR UP program, a program to help low-income students work toward college. But what’s being added at the department is being cut from the Office of the State Board of Education, so it’s a wash. It’s part of Gov. Butch Otter’s initiative to remove everyday management of K-12 schools from the state board office, and send it back to the department, which is headed by the elected state superintendent of schools. That’s how it used to work, before the programs were shifted amid political fighting when the state superintendent was a Democrat, and the governor a Republican. (Now, both, including Supt. Tom Luna, are Republicans.)
Five of the eight staffers in the new unit are moving directly over from the board office. Two are new hires who are taking on positions that had been vacant recently at the board office; the eighth, 2008 Teacher of the Year Carol Scholz, is filling a vacant position at the department for a special education coordinator that’s now being moved into the new unit. “We had some space for ‘em and we squeezed them in, and we’re glad to have ‘em,” said department spokeswoman Melissa McGrath.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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