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Eye On Boise

Goedde: ‘We have a moral obligation’ to pay IEN vendors

John Goedde addresses JFAC on the Idaho Education Network on Thursday (Betsy Russell)
John Goedde addresses JFAC on the Idaho Education Network on Thursday (Betsy Russell)

Former Senate Education Chairman John Goedde told JFAC, “Let’s talk about a path forward. … We issued an invitation to bid on the 3rd that will address the intermediate challenge that we’ve got.” That’s for a “bridge contractor” to run the IEN for one year, he said, and hopefully qualify for federal e-rate funds. “The contract has to be let by the 26th of March, so we’re on a really tight timeline for that, but it’s important that we have the opportunity to apply for e-rate, it represents somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million dollars, and that’s significant.”

Longer term, he said, the contract would be re-bid, and could change in nature. “I see this as the real opportunity for the state of Idaho,” Goedde said. “We’ve asked potential vendors to provide their vision of what the Idaho Education Network might look like in the future. And think about this, it was put together seven years ago, and technology has changed tremendously in that period of time. When we first looked at the IEN, teachers didn’t allow smartphones in the their classrooms, and iPads were not prevalent. So I think we’re going to see from our vendors something totally different than what we’ve got right now.”

In the meantime, he said, “We have not paid our vendors since September. We have a moral obligation to pay them. We have to find a way.” He said there are “probably three ways, but two of those ways are going to depend on the courts to clarify the judgment that Judge Owen had rendered in November. So I’d like to focus on the third way.”

He said that would be approving a supplemental appropriation for the IEN for the rest of this fiscal year, “with intent language that would allow us to pay our vendors for these services that they’ve rendered to this state. … I’d hate to see the service turned off to our students.”

Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, countered, “I was concerned about your statement that there’s a moral obligation to pay, because this is the public’s money, and we have to deal with legal obligations.” Goedde said, “I don’t know that we can wait for the court to determine what’s legal, and ... wait and jeopardize the … network being turned off.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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