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Ed Board unanimously approves Ybarra’s request for 1-year waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements

In a special meeting this afternoon, the state Board of Education granted unanimous approval to a state request for flexibility from some aspects of federal education laws. Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra presented the request, a one-year waiver from elements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, better known as the No Child Left Behind, writes Clark Corbin of Idaho Education News.

Corbin reports that the board had already given the green light to many waiver aspects this spring, but the feds sent it back to Idaho for technical corrections and formatting; you can read his full report here. Under the waiver, the state won’t award “star” ratings to schools this year, as Ybarra said it doesn’t yet have sufficient data from new student tests; the Schoolnet statewide instructional management system will be discontinued; and some sanctions previously imposed on schools that don’t meet “adequate yearly progress” goals would be removed.

Otter appoints West Ada Supt. Linda Clark to state Board of Education

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has named Linda Clark, superintendent of the state’s largest school district, West Ada, to the state Board of Education to replace three-term board member Rod Lewis of Eagle, whose term expired June 30.  Otter said he selected Clark from “an outstanding field of applicants.”

“Linda Clark embodies the passion and dedication of Idaho’s professional educators,” Otter said in a statement. “She has a wealth of knowledge and experience in education K-through-career, and understands the importance of providing the very best educational opportunities for Idaho citizens. I extend my sincere thanks to Rod Lewis for his 15 years of service to Idaho. His efforts have led to significant improvements in education, and our students and state are stronger today for his hard work and dedication.”

Clark holds a bachelor’s degree from Boise State University, a master’s degree in education from the University of Idaho, and an Ed.D, a doctorate in education, from the University of San Francisco. She recently served for two years on the governor’s Task Force for Improving Education. “Linda’s work and leadership on the task force were invaluable,” Otter said. “I know she shares my commitment to implementing the 20 recommendations to improve education in Idaho as we work to reach the goal of enabling 60 percent of our citizens ages 25-34 to attain a post-secondary degree or certificate by 2020.”

Clark said, “I am humbled and highly honored by Gov. Otter’s appointment.  The state Board of Education has done outstanding work in moving Idaho toward attainment of the task force recommendations, and I look forward to working with them on these and other important issues for K-12 and higher education in Idaho.”

Otter also announced that he is reappointing Ashton business woman and potato grower Emma Atchley to serve a second term on the board; she is the board’s current vice-president and immediate past president. Both Atchley and Clark will serve five-year terms that run through June 30, 2020.

Teacher salaries vary widely across state…

A review of teacher pay in Idaho reveals wide gaps between the highs and lows, writes Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News. Richert examines the reasons for the wide variance, and reports that the new five-year career ladder teacher pay plan may only accentuate it. His full report is online here.

State board votes unanimously to approve 5-year contract for new BSU athletic director

It took less than 10 minutes this afternoon for the state Board of Education to unanimously approve hiring Curt Apsey as BSU’s new athletic director, on a five-year contract with a base salary of $331,500. The pay and contract terms are virtually identical to those the state had with Apsey’s predecessor, Mark Coyle, who just left after three years to become athletic director at Syracuse.

Board member Rod Lewis said, “I think for the benefit of the board, for those close to the community, this will be viewed as a very good selection. Curt is very well respected in the community for the work that he has done with Boise State. I think there is a view that he is making a long-term commitment to the university, so I commend Boise State for their selection of Mr. Apsey as athletic director.”

Just like Coyle, Apsey will be eligible for incentive pay beyond his base both for academics and athletic achievement; academic incentive pay could range from $10,000 to $25,000, depending on performance, and athletic incentive pay could range from $5,000 for being in the top 60 to $15,000 for being in the top 25. There are additional incentives built into the contract for bowl game appearances; high grade-point averages for players; football division or conference championships; and achievement by men’s or women’s basketball, or women’s soccer, volleyball, gymnastics or softball teams.

If Apsey were to leave before the end of the five-year contract, he’d owe “liquidated damages” of $100,000 to $200,000 per year. That’s standard in such contracts; for example, when former head football Coach Chris Petersen left, the University of Washington, where he went, paid the liquidated damages to hire him away before his contract was out.

State board member Debbie Critchfield asked about the timing of Coyle’s departure and when BSU was notified. BSU President Bob Kustra said, “I received the call from Mark Coyle that Syracuse had offered him the position Friday evening, but in all fairness, it was no shock,” because Coyle was required to notify Kustra when he received contacts about possible new positions. “Mark has been very diligent about that, and weeks and weeks ago he notified me that two or three universities had contacted him,” Kustra said. “So even though Friday night is an awfully short time frame … I had a few weeks to think about what we would do if it happened, and thus the reason for the choice of Curt Apsey.”

Apsey’s new contract starts Aug. 1, and runs through July 31, 2020. The board vote to approve it was unanimous, 6-0.

Apsey, who was Boise State’s senior associate athletic director for 16 years, as well as interim director for four months in 2011, said in a BSU news release, “I couldn’t be more excited to be home.”

“Looking at the high level of performance across all sports on the field and in the classroom, it is clear that Boise State Athletics has never had a more promising future,” he said. “I look forward to working with our coaches, student-athletes, athletics leadership team and the university in continuing to build one of the most admired programs in the country.”

Kustra, in the same release, said,  “Curt is one of the main reasons Boise State University has achieved the incredible athletics success it has enjoyed for more than a decade. He understands how we got to where we are today, and knows where this university needs to go in the future. I know that our coaches, players, fans and supporters will be as glad as I am that he is back.”

Idaho pondering pre-admitting all its qualified students to state colleges, universities

Idaho education officials want to flip the traditional college admission process around in order to boost the state's dismal college attendance rates, the AP reports. The State Board of Education listened to a new proposal Thursday that recommended alerting qualified high school seniors that they have been accepted to all eight of Idaho's colleges and universities rather than wait for application results. Board spokesman Blake Youde says students would still need to fill out paperwork and a pay a fee to secure a spot at their school of choice, but the money would eventually be credited back on their tuition bill.

Pre-qualification for acceptance would be based on grade point average, total school credits and SAT scores, writes AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi. Officials still are working with college provosts to determine the minimum standards as well as how to avoid capacity issues in the event too many students select primarily just one university.

Students who don't qualify would receive a different notification that would admit them into Idaho State University and Lewis-Clark State College as well Idaho's community colleges, said Carson Howell, an analyst with the board. "Now we're potentially looking at hitting all students," Howell said. "We know what the pool is."

The board will vote on adopting the proposal in August during its next meeting; students and parents could start getting the letter by fall. You can read Kruesi’s full report here.

State Ed Board picks Matt Freeman as next executive director

Idaho’s state Board of Education has announced that its new executive director will be Matt Freeman, now the board’s deputy director and chief fiscal officer. The home-grown pick, chosen after a national search, previously spent nine years with the Legislative Services Office, where he was a budget and policy analyst for the Legislature focusing on higher education. He holds a law degree from the University of Idaho and a bachelor’s degree from Whitworth University. An Idaho native, Freeman is married with two children.

“I am very grateful for the Board's confidence in me to assume this leadership position,” said Freeman.  “I look forward to working with the Board, policymakers, public schools, and colleges and universities to provide high quality educational opportunities for Idaho's students.”

“The board is very pleased that Matt has accepted this position,” said Emma Atchley, state board president. “The board is strongly committed to full implementation of the Task Force’s recommendations and will confidently look to Matt to work with the board to achieve its overall goal of Idaho students being college and career ready. Matt is well-known and respected in Idaho government and will work with all stakeholders to achieve the Board’s goals.”

Freeman will be paid $140,004 a year; Rush made $130,769.

State Board of Ed to host ‘STEM Summit’

A day-long STEM Summit is being planned June 10 at Boise State University, hosted by the state Board of Education, to bring together educators, administrators, students, industry leaders, policymakers, and other STEM advocates to focus on how to “expand Idaho’s STEM talent pipeline from education to employment.” STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Bob Lokken, CEO of WhiteCloud Analytics, will give the keynote address.

The summit, which will run from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., is free and includes breakfast and lunch, but space is limited. The public is invited to attend, especially educators and industry leaders in STEM fields, legislators and high school or postsecondary STEM students. The registration deadline is Monday; there’s more info here.

The summit is being underwritten by the Idaho National Laboratory; BSU; iSTEM, a teacher professional development group; Idaho Business for Education; and the state board; its overall cost is $20,000, half of that in in-kind donations. Gov. Butch Otter will give opening remarks, and the day will include interactive discussions on carrying out the state’s STEM strategic plan.

Mike Rush, state Board of Ed director, to leave for South Dakota

Here’s a bit of news that I didn’t post at the time because it came out during the special session of the Legislature on Monday: Mike Rush, executive director of the state Board of Education, has accepted a new position with the South Dakota Board of Regents and will start his new job June 29. Rush has been the state board’s executive director since 2007; his first state job was as a program manager in the Division of Professional-Technical Education in 1986; he went on to direct that division for 11 years.

“Serving as executive director of Idaho’s State Board of Education has been an incredible privilege,” Rush said in a statement. “I have had the opportunity to work with the best board in the country and some of the finest universities, colleges and public schools anywhere. I have particularly appreciated the governor’s leadership this past year in increasing support for our Idaho public schools. I will dearly miss the dedicated individuals who make Idaho’s education system such a great place to work.”

The board has not yet announced its plans for selecting a new executive director; the position currently pays $130,770 a year, according to state records. Rush, who holds a doctorate in education from Virginia Tech, was named acting director in September 2007 and helped bring the agency back from the financial brink; accounting miscues had left the board with a $1.4 million deficit for the previous budget year, and it had also flubbed an $18 million federal grant to help low-income students attend college. Rush ordered a full audit of the board’s fiscal procedures and had it on an even financial keel before he was named the permanent executive director in May of 2008; he was also credited with ending a morale crisis that had prompted numerous board employees to leave.

Board initiatives Rush has overseen as executive director include strengthening career-technical education in technical colleges and high schools and increasing the state’s college scholarship awards through the Idaho Opportunity Scholarship program.

State ed board unanimously approves Ybarra’s new ESEA waiver

The state Board of Education, meeting late last week in Moscow, unanimously approved state schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra’s request for a new one-year waiver from requirements of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind law, Idaho Education News reports.

Idaho’s existing waiver expires this summer; the new waiver request Ybarra and her staff have been preparing is due April 30, and is substantially different from the existing one prepared by former Supt. Tom Luna. Idaho EdNews reporter Clark Corbin reports that the changes include discontinuing the troubled Schoolnet instructional management system; doing away with the “five-star rating” system for schools; and allowing for new teacher evaluation and support systems, as contemplated under this year’s “career ladder” teacher pay bill. You can read Corbin’s full report online here, which also includes links to more details on the waiver.

University tuition, fee hikes largely will cover lawmaker-approved raises for employees

Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on the tuition and fee increases for Idaho state colleges and universities approved by the state Board of Education today, which range from 1.7 percent to 3.5 percent next year for resident undergraduates. The fees will largely go to cover salary and benefit increases approved by state lawmakers this year, but not fully funded from state funds.

University of Idaho President Chuck Staben offered in January to freeze university tuition next year, if lawmakers would cover the full costs universities will face for the 3 percent raises they approved for state workers next year, including those at universities. Undergraduate resident tuition at the U of I has been rising each year for more than two decades; employee costs take up 75 to 80 percent of its budget.

Lawmakers declined; they’ve made that move, called a “fund shift,” for universities in nine of the past 18 years, but not once since the economic downturn hit in 2008. The budget they approved for Idaho’s colleges and universities next year shows an overall increase in state funds of 3 percent; Gov. Butch Otter signed it into law on Friday. “The board and the university share a commitment to accessible, affordable education,” Staben said today. “This modest increase allows us to maintain quality at moderate costs to Idaho students and families.”

Lowest tuition increases in 15 years OK’d for Idaho universities

Idaho’s state Board of Education has approved the lowest tuition increases for the state’s four-year colleges and universities in the last 15 years, ranging from 1.7 percent to 3.5 percent for undergraduate resident tuition and fees next year. Boise State University, the University of Idaho and Eastern Idaho Technical College all will have 3.5 percent increases. Idaho State University students will see a 3.3 percent increase. And Lewis-Clark State College students will see a 1.7 percent increase.

The state board unanimously approved the increases at its meeting this morning in Moscow.

Emma Atchley, state board president, said, “We know cost is a significant barrier to higher education so we have worked with our college and university leadership to minimize tuition and fee increases for our students.” Most of the tuition and fee increases are to cover costs for salary and benefit increases approved by state lawmakers this year, but not fully funded from state funds.

“We are balancing making higher education as affordable as possible and providing the programs students need to be employable, but we cannot expect them to carry the entire burden of additional costs,” Atchley said.  “We understand the state budget process is one of balancing competing priorities, and we appreciate the support we have received from Gov. Otter and the Legislature. Significant support from the state in the future will be key if we are going to provide education opportunities to meet the 60% goal and the workforce demand in Idaho.”

The state board’s goal is that 60 percent of Idahoans age 25 to 34 have degrees or certificates beyond high school by the year 2020, but the state has a long way to go to reach that mark. State board members noted that tuition and fees now cover just 48 percent of the operating costs at Idaho’s state colleges and universities, though they remain affordable compared to other western states.

The University of Idaho released a detailed breakdown of its tuition and fees hike: Resident undergrad tuition and fees will rise 3.5 percent, or $236, to $7,020 next year; non-resident undergrad 3.5 percent or $710 to $21,024; resident graduate students will pay 4.3 percent more, a $340 increase to $8,222; and non-resident graduate students will see a 3.8 percent hike, an $814 increase, to $22,226.

The U of I estimated the increase will give the university $2.7 million in increased revenue over the current year’s budget.

IEA chief on new career ladder plan for teacher pay: ‘A really flawed process’

Penni Cyr, president of the Idaho Education Association, says her group has major concerns about the new teacher “career ladder” legislation endorsed yesterday by the state Board of Education, which would phase in substantial raises for Idaho teachers if they meet standards for evaluations and student achievement.

“First of all, it’s a really flawed process,” she said, adding that she and another teacher from the IEA served on the governor’s education improvement task force, but neither was invited to work on the career ladder legislation. “People haven’t been involved in this process,” Cyr said. “I’m sorry that they brought forward again another piece, just like the Luna laws, that hasn’t been vetted with the public and hasn’t included all of us working on it to bring it forward.”

“I think, too, that we’re going to continue our mass exodus of teachers from Idaho,” Cyr said. “Basically what we’re going to get is an inexperienced pool of teachers who, once they reach a point, they’re going to leave Idaho to go to other places that don’t base their pay on how their students perform or on their local evaluations. And I think at the hearings the public said loud and clear, local evaluations should be to help teachers grow as a professional. Charlotte Danielson (author of the evaluation framework tied to the new career ladder) never intended her model to be used in this way.”

State Ed Board unanimously backs new career ladder plan for teacher pay

Idaho’s state Board of Education today voted unanimously to endorse proposed legislation to set up a “career ladder” for Idaho teachers, phasing in big pay increases if teachers meet performance standards. Funding for base salaries for beginning teachers would rise from $31,750 to $40,000 over five years, and for top-level teachers, from $47,000 to $58,000 for those at the top level. There also would be pay increases for attaining higher levels of education, at three levels: Bachelor’s degree plus 24 credits; master’s degree; and doctorate; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

In the first year of the implementation of the career ladder, the 2015-16 school year, beginning teacher base pay would rise from $31,750 to $33,600. Top level teachers’ base pay would rise from $47,000 to $47,803. “It is a little weighted for those just entering the profession,” said board spokesman Marilyn Whitney. The career ladder plan would be in addition to the $16 million that school districts are now authorized to receive each year for leadership bonuses for teachers recognized by their districts for everything from mentoring to teaching dual-credit classes to earning additional endorsements.

“The career ladder represents a major step forward in how Idaho pays teachers,” said Board President Emma Atchley. “Idaho public school salaries would become more competitive with other states and the private sector. We believe this plan will be crucial in attracting and retaining great teachers and will significantly improve the quality of education for our students.” Richard Westerberg, another board member and chairman of the governor’s education improvement task force, which recommended the career ladder approach, said, “The need and time for higher salaries is now. The plan provides for robust, effective and meaningful teacher mentoring programs and would allow districts to reward their best teachers.”

The career ladder, if approved by lawmakers and signed into law by the governor, would replace the current salary grid in which the amount of funding the state sends districts for teacher pay bumps up based on factors including 14 experience levels and seven education levels. Full details of the new career ladder, including the proposed legislation, spreadsheets showing its year-by-year impact, and explanations, are online here at the state board’s website.

Reactions to new state board teacher licensing rule…

Linda Clark, the Meridian School District superintendent who co-chaired the tiered licensure committee with state Education Board member Rod Lewis, said she had no problem with the changes the board made to the tiered teacher licensing rule today. “I believe in the process, and when this process is used, the results get better,” she said. “They were all things that we discussed. There’s no change that was not discussed thoroughly by the committee.” She said she believes the licensing rule, setting up the new residency certificate and requirements for new teachers, along with recent moves by the state’s college and university teacher-training programs to come together and have a unified definition of the standards that a prospective teacher has to meet, together are two important moves toward improving teacher quality in Idaho with “gatekeeper” approaches.

Lewis said he doesn’t know if the changes will satisfy the strong opposition the board saw around the state to the new rule. “Who knows,” he said. “We believe they are major changes. We’d like to believe that it will make a difference.” He said, “We’ll see how it goes. What matters now is how the Legislature deals with it. The rule will have to go to the Legislature for their approval. We think it’s a very meaningful step forward for enhancing teacher effectiveness, and serves as a foundation for significant increases in teacher compensation.”

Boise School District Superintendent Don Coberly, who earlier had opposed the rule, said he still has concerns, but thought the changes were significant and appropriate. “I felt like the state board really listened to a lot of the comments that were made,” he said. “I think moving to a two-tier system was wise.” He also praised removing the new accountability measures from the license-renewal process for experienced teachers. However, he said he still has concerns about the way they’d play out for teachers in their first three years – they could lose their licenses over performance issues. “We don’t do that in any other profession,” he said, “where you take away a certificate for unsatisfactory performance. You fire ‘em. But losing a certificate is a whole different issue.”

Plus, he said, the “basic” rating in certain areas that could cost a new teacher his or her license differs from state law that uses “satisfactory and “unsatisfactory” ratings. “Basic” actually could be considered satisfactory performance, he said, so it seems odd to revoke a certificate over it.

Matt Compton, director of public policy for the Idaho Education Association, said the teachers group still has major concerns. “Teachers and parents and school board members all have been saying we should come back to the table … bring more teachers to the table,” he said. “There’s still time. We need to slow this down. That’s certainly something that has been ignored in this rule here today.” He said, “We still have a very serious concern about connecting evaluations to professional certification.”

State Board of Ed unanimously passes tiered licensure rule for teachers

The state Board of Education has voted unanimously in favor of the new tiered licensing rule for teachers, as amended; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com. Board member Richard Westerberg made the motion, and member Debbie Critchfield seconded the motion.

Board member Rod Lewis thanked the subcommittee that worked on the rule, and the governor’s education task force that first put forth the concept. “The process that led us to this rule was probably one of the most open, collaborative, inclusive processes that many of us have seen in years in the education arena,” he said. To the subcommittee, he said, “I hope you don’t mind the changes that the board is proposing today. We believe that they are responsive to the comments that we received. I’m sure that there are continuing concerns, but there have been further major adjustments here, and I hope that it’s still in keeping with the spirit of the recommendations from the tiered licensing committee.”

Board Chair Emma Atchley said she will appoint a broad, inclusive implementation committee to oversee the new rule as it take effect, assuming the Legislature approves it. “We feel that we have come up with a rule that will work,” she said. “We have to remind ourselves occasionally that rules can change, there is flexibility in the process.” She added, “Please recognize that all of us are parents, grandparents, we have been involved in education for a long time. We are doing what we feel is good work for the state, and we hope that we can take an important step today. People have been talking about reform and licensure and a lot of things for many years. Today I hope will be an historic day that we can say we have taken a significant step forward.”

Board members ponder how new rules affect attracting teachers from out of state…

Several Board of Education members have raised questions about how the new tiered teacher licensing rules would affect new teachers coming to Idaho from out of state – and whether they’d hurt Idaho’s efforts to attract teachers from out of state. They’d get the same treatment as Idaho teachers in their first three years, and would be required to meet an array of accountability requirements to gain licensing; initially, they’d get a provisional residency license. “I think that the intent was that there  be fairness with respect to the teachers that were in-state,” board member Rod Lewis said.

Board member Debbie Critchfield asked, “What provisions are there … to help mentor and make sure that we give everyone a fair opportunity?” Lewis responded, “Mentoring was a major part of the recommendations that came out of the committee.

Board member Richard Westerberg, said, “I think the whole reason we have the residency mechanism in tiered licensure was to ensure that we have a quality product, a quality teacher, when we give them certification. So that same logic would be true even when we have an out-o- state teacher come in. We still want to make sure we have a quality candidate, because they haven’t gone through our residency.”

Ed Board members outline ‘fairly substantial changes’ to tiered licensing rule

The state Board of Education meeting started with board member Rod Lewis running down the list of the changes to the proposed tiered licensing rule, as detailed here. Board member Richard Westerberg said they are “fairly substantial changes.” Lewis said the biggest one is dropping from three tiers to two, and removing accountability measures from the professional-level certificate renewal requirements, instead leaving those renewal requirements for experienced teachers the same as they are now. Those measures still would apply to teachers within the first tier, which is generally those in their first three years of teaching.

Full house for today’s state Ed Board meeting…

There’s a full house at the Capitol today for the state Board of Education’s special meeting on tiered teacher licensing, though no public comment will be taken. Board Chair Emma Atchley told the crowd, “I appreciate your presence here – it’s always good to have an audience so the public knows what the board is doing.”

Four board members are present in person for today’s meeting, Atchley, Rod Lewis, Debbie Critchfield and Richard Westerberg; several other board members, including state schools Superintendent Tom Luna, are participating by phone.

Superintendent-elect Sherri Ybarra tried to come to the meeting, but spokeswoman Melinda Nothern said she slid off the road due to the snow in Mountain Home and instead will listen in by phone.

Proposed changes in tiered licensure rule include moving from 3 tiers to 2, keeping experienced teacher license renewal process as-is

Two big changes are among the modifications the state Board of Education will consider this afternoon to its controversial tiered teacher licensing rule. One would eliminate the third tier of licensing, so there would just be two: The residency certificate, for teachers in their first three years; and the professional certificate, for teachers with more than three years experience. Then, the board is dropping new performance-based requirements from the renewal process for the professional certificate, so renewals of teachers’ professional certificates would carry the same requirements that they have today, including requirements for additional education credits.

Performance requirements, including measures tied to student achievement and evaluations by principals, would remain in place for the residency certificate. And they wouldn’t go away for the more-experienced teachers, either – but they’d move out of the licensing process. Marilyn Whitney, spokeswoman for the board, they’d instead become a part of the proposed “career ladder,” which would give pay boosts to teachers when they attain certain standards. The career ladder legislation is separate from the tiered licensing rule; Whitney said the state board is scheduled to consider it later, possibly as soon as the board’s next meeting on Nov. 24.

That’s where the board could consider tying some pay increases to completion of advanced degrees, which currently brings teachers raises but was excluded from the tiered licensure plan entirely. “The board is considering, on the compensation side, for the career ladder … adding in some additional compensation for advanced degrees and education attainment,” Whitney said. “I think that’s in direct response to the public comments. But that would be in the career ladder legislation, and they’re not discussing that today.”

“They’re still talking about those details,” she said. “All they’re going to do today is talk about the tiered certification.”

The third level, initially identified as a “master level teacher” in the original tiered licensing rule, may come back in the career ladder as well, Whitney said, but it wouldn’t play into teacher licensing. Whitney said, “Most of the public comments centered around the concern over tying those things to licensure specifically, the professional certification. So this proposal they’re looking at this afternoon addresses that.” You can see the full proposed rule, with the changes, online here; it’s a 25-page document that also includes the board’s staff memo, summarizing and explaining the changes. The board meeting starts at 4:30 MT today.

State ed board to take up controversial teacher licensing changes today

Changes may be in the works for the controversial tiered teacher licensing rule, Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert reports; you can read his full report here. The state Board of Education meets at 4:30 p.m. today to consider the rule, and last night posted information here detailing changes it’s proposing to the rule. Among them: “The specific performance requirements that have been removed from the proposed certification rule will be amended and added to the career ladder legislation. Amendments to the career ladder legislation will be provided to the Board at their next Board meeting for consideration.”

The board held three public hearings in Pocatello, Lewiston and Meridian about the rule, where reaction was overwhelmingly negative. It received 549 written comments, including five in favor and five requesting more information. The remaining 539 were opposed.

The board’s 4:30 meeting will be in room WW17 of the state capitol; it also will be streamed online here; or people can call in to listen at (877) 322-9654, code 896861.

Big crowd pans tiered licensing plan at state Board of Ed hearing

About 250 people, including educators, administrators and parents, packed the cafeteria at Meridian’s Mountain View High School last night for a raucous State Board of Education hearing on a tiered licensure plan for teachers – and no one testified in favor of the proposal, Idaho Education News reports. Even Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, a House Education Committee member, used his testimony to suggest technical changes, writes EdNews reporter Kevin Richert.

Opponent after opponent urged the State Board to start over, scrapping the plan entirely. ”There are just too many variables for the state to start another initiative,” Weiser School District Superintendent Wil Overgaard said. “Slow down and get it right.”

The state board will take the next 30 to 60 days reviewing public comments and will decide how to adjust the plan, state board member Rod Lewis said after the three-hour hearing. He told EdNews he still expects a plan to come before the 2015 Legislature, but he expects some adjustments; Richert’s full report is online here.

State Board backs new tiered licensing system for teachers, opens it for public comments

Idaho’s state Board of Education has voted unanimously to give preliminary approval to a new tiered certification system for teachers, opening the way for a public comment period and public hearing before final consideration of the rule in November. The new way of approaching teacher certification and licensing was developed as part of the governor’s education task force’s 20 recommendations for improving education in the state; the new licensing system would be tied to a new teacher pay system that would sharply increase Idaho teacher pay.

“This is a sea change in how we handle the certification of Idaho teachers,” said state Board President Emma Atchley.

However, the Idaho Education Association has opposed a key aspect of the new rule, Idaho Education News reports, arguing that a teacher’s license or certificate should not be dependent on educator evaluations performed at the local level. EdNews reporter Clark Corbin reports that IEA members have opposed the evaluations rule in committee meetings, but no one spoke against it as the state board considered it on Thursday.

Corbin reports that the new system essentially calls for two tiers of teacher certification. The first is a three-year, non-renewable residency certificate for teachers just starting out in the profession. The second is a professional certificate for teachers who have more than three years of experience and meet eligibility, student growth and performance standards. Within the professional tier, there are standard and master professional certificates. There’s also a contingent professional certificate for teachers who don’t meet all renewal requirements, and an interim certificate for teachers moving to Idaho from elsewhere. You can read Corbin’s full report here, and see the full state board rule here.

Universities name programs they could cut to save money, re-prioritize

Idaho State University would eliminate its bachelor’s degrees in German and French. Boise State would do away with its Department of Bilingual Education, and could eliminate its College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs in a restructuring. The University of Idaho would do away with bachelor’s degrees in musical theater, American studies and medical technology. All are among proposals presented to the State Board of Education yesterday as part of a year-long required look at university programs aimed at cost-cutting, reports Boise State Public Radio’s Adam Cotterell; the schools looked at every program offered and judged each based on things like return on investment and demand. The state board required all the state’s four-year colleges and universities to examine and prioritize their programs; layoffs could result. Cotterell’s full report is online here.

Sen. John Goedde, former Sen. Melinda Smyser among those passed over for Board of Ed

Among those Gov. Butch Otter passed over for the two recent state Board of Education openings, to whom he appointed David Hill and Debbie Critchfield: Outgoing Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene; former Sen. Melinda Smyser, R-Parma; Trudy Anderson, a retired associate vice president from the University of Idaho; and more. Idaho Education News reporter Kevin Richert writes today about the selection process, including what both Hill, a former top official at the Idaho National Laboratory, and Critchfield, a board member and current public information officer for the Cassia County School District, said in their applications. You can read his full report here.

Otter taps Hill and Critchfield for state Board of Education openings

Gov. Butch Otter announced his choices for two openings of the state Board of Education today: David Hill of Boise, retired executive vice president of the Battelle Energy Alliance and deputy director for science and technology at the Idaho National Laboratory; and Debbie Critchfield of Oakley, a former member and chairman of the Cassia County School Board, current member of the Cassia County Republican Central Committee and an active education volunteer who served on the state technology task force. Hill will replace longtime board member Milford Terrell, who stepped down this month; Critchfield will replace Ken Edmunds, who left the board to become Otter's director of the Idaho Department of Labor in November. Otter called the field of applicants for the two posts "stellar," saying in a statement, "Frankly, I couldn’t have made a bad choice. I’m very grateful for the willingness of all the candidates to serve and to help advance my vision for education in Idaho.” Click below for Otter's full announcement.

State Ed Board hires Dwight Johnson as new head of professional-technical ed

The Idaho State Board of Education today hired Dwight Johnson, most recently a senior administrator at the Idaho Department of Labor, as its new state head of professional-technical education. Johnson recently also was a finalist for the job of state director of legislative services, a position that ended up going to longtime legislative aide Eric Milstead instead.

“Dwight’s experience in education and workforce development will be tremendously beneficial to the division,” said Mike Rush, the state board’s executive director. “With his 20 years of experience in senior administrative positions and his relationships with industry, legislators, educators and students, Dwight is ideally suited to lead PTE in Idaho.”

Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brigham Young University; a master’s in public administration from BSU; and is a candidate for a Ph.D in organizational learning and leadership from the University of Idaho. “I understand and am passionate about the value and benefit of professional-technical education for individuals, for businesses and for our state economy,” Johnson said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to working with PTE educators, our technical colleges and the business community to provide education and workforce development opportunities for Idahoans."

Johnson, 56, will earn an annual salary of $104,998.

Ahlquist, Jaquet among finalists for two seats on state Board of Ed

Five finalists are being interviewed today for an opening on the Idaho State Board of Education, and one of them is Tommy Ahlquist, chief operating officer of Gardner Company, an emergency room physician, Idaho State University Foundation board member, founder of a Boise-based defibrillator company and more. Ahlquist is the head of Gardner Co.’s Idaho operations, which include the newly constructed, 18-story 8th & Main Building in downtown Boise, and the City Center Plaza project, for which ground was broken today. The five being interviewed today are finalists for the board seat being vacated this month by longtime board member Milford Terrell.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter already has interviewed four finalists for an earlier board opening, created when then-board member Ken Edmunds became Otter’s new state Department of Labor director. Otter confirmed that one of those four is former state Rep. Wendy Jaquet, but declined to name the other finalists for either of the two positions.

Board of Ed approves 5% raises for two university presidents

Idaho’s State Board of Education voted unanimously today to give 5 percent pay raises to the presidents of Boise State University and Idaho State University, a 3 percent raise for the head of Lewis-Clark State College, and a 7.2 percent raise for the executive director of the office of the state board. The raises followed performance reviews for each of the top positions; the University of Idaho wasn’t included because new UI President Chuck Staben just started work on March 1.

With the raises – all effective June 8 – BSU President Bob Kustra’s salary will rise to $371,104; ISU President Arthur Vailas’ to $357,029; LCSC President Tony Fernandez’ to $176,011; and state board executive director Mike Rush’s to $129,938. The proposed raise for Rush is still subject to review by Gov. Butch Otter.

Otter seeks applicants for State Board of Education opening

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter is calling for applications for an opening on the State Board of Education due to the retirement of longtime member Milford Terrell of Boise. Otter’s taking applications through Monday, June 16; Terrell, who is stepping down June 30, has until February of 2017 in his term, so that’s the term the appointee would serve.

Meanwhile, Otter still hasn’t made a decision on another opening on the state board, the one created when he named member Ken Edmunds the director of the state Department of Labor in November. Sixteen people applied for that opening, and the governor is deciding among four finalists, all of whom he’s interviewed. “The governor’s always said about these things, he doesn’t believe in rushing them,” said Otter spokesman Jon Hanian. “He’d much rather take his time and make sure he’s got the right pick than meeting some artificial self-imposed deadline. But given where we are, I don’t think it’s going to be very much longer” ‘til that appointee is named.

The State Board of Education is charged by the Idaho Constitution with overseeing both higher education and the state’s K-12 public schools. It has eight members, including the state superintendent of schools. The seven members appointed by the governor, who serve five-year terms, are required by law to be selected “solely upon consideration of the ability of such appointees efficiently to serve the interests of the people, and education, without reference to locality, occupation, party affiliation or religion.” To be eligible, an applicant must have been a resident of the state for at least three years.

Click below for Otter’s announcement, including application information.

State Ed Board elects new officers, Atchley to take over as president

Emma Atchley of eastern Idaho has been elected president of the State Board of Education, taking over from Don Soltman, who finished up his term as president today; he was elected secretary for the coming year. The board also elected Rod Lewis of Boise as its vice president. “Don has done an outstanding job, and we appreciate all he has accomplished,” Atchley said. “The students of our state are fortunate to have such diligent, thoughtful leaders working on their behalf.”