BOISE – Idaho state schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra’s rural schools bill, HB 223, narrowly passed the House Tuesday on a 37-33 vote.
The measure calls for a three-year pilot project, at $300,000 a year, in which schools in North Idaho would join together in a rural schools network aimed at collaborating and sharing resources. It’s been one of Ybarra’s top priorities since she was elected in 2014.
Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene, said, “I think this is actually something that will save us money in the long run. It’s an opportunity for us to be efficient with our services.” He said the schools in North Idaho that have been working to form the network for the past two years already have 10 schools signed on, including both regular and charter schools, and eight of them are rural schools.
Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, spoke out against the bill, saying, “This spending on this new bill is equivalent to about eight new teachers, and it will be competing with teacher pay every year.”
The measure still needs Senate passage and the governor’s signature to become law. Here’s how North Idaho representatives voted:
Voting yes: Reps. Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene; Don Cheatham, R-Post Falls; Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer; Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene; Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d’Alene; Eric Redman, R-Athol; Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins; and Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee.
Voting no: Reps. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens; Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay; Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird; and Heather Scott, R-Blanchard.
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