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MAKING THE GRADE: Higher Education Spending in Idaho

Posted at 12:27 PM, Oct 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 14:30:00-04

BOISE, Idaho — Michelle Edmonds and Idaho Education News reporter, Kevin Richert, take a look at this week's hottest education topics in Making the Grade.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday named four Idaho teachers as recipients of the country’s most prestigious award for math and science teachers, Idaho Education News reports.

Two of the teachers work in the Boise School District. Three are women. And all of them have a passion for STEM. The winners are:

  • Deirdre Abrams — Donnelly Elementary School, McCall-Donnelly
  • Sean Boston — Timberline High School, Boise
  • Vonda Franklin — Washington Elementary School, Boise
  • Erin Tiderman-Gross — Rocky Mountain High School, West Ada

The four teachers were selected from seven Idaho finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in 2017 and 2018. They join some 200 educators from all 50 states who received the award Tuesday.
A new federal report sends some mixed signals about how Idaho funds higher education.

Idaho Education News reports based on the raw numbers, Idaho’s public colleges and universities appear underfunded. In 2017, Idaho’s higher education system ranked No. 49 in the nation in total revenue collected per student, ahead of only Nevada and Florida, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts report released Tuesday.

The bottom line: Idaho’s public institutions received $25,433 per full-time student, nearly 31 percent below the national average.

But in some respects, Idaho’s funding picture is far less dire based on Pew’s analysis of the 2017 numbers:

  • Idaho actually invested a relatively large share of state tax dollars in higher education: $8,628 per full-time student. That comes in nearly 12 percent above the national average.
  • Idaho’s institutions rely less heavily on student tuition and fees. Idaho collected $6,760 in tuition and fees per full-time student, about 10 percent below the national average.

Those national trends come amidst an ongoing debate over higher education funding in Idaho.
Boise State University’s Republican and Democratic student groups are co-hosting a bipartisan discussion on a polarizing issue: campus diversity and inclusion programs.

The panel discussion, “The Future of American Higher Education,” will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 22, at the Simplot Ballroom of Boise State’s Student Union Building.

Boise State College Republicans and Boise State Young Democrats are co-sponsoring the event, billed as a “civil discussion on the ideas of diversity and inclusion within our state education systems.”

Speakers include Reps. Barbara Ehardt and Bryan Zollinger, both R-Idaho Falls; Sen. Assistant Minority Leader Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise; and House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise.

Idaho Education News reports all four lawmakers have been involved — to at least some degree — in the debate over Boise State diversity and inclusion programs.
A district judge has sided with a Caldwell man who sued the Middleton School District in a public records dispute, the Idaho Press reported Tuesday.

District Judge Thomas Whitney sided with Ray Moore in an Oct. 7 ruling, and said the district must provide Moore unredacted copies of the requested records by Oct. 25. Originally, the district denied Moore’s requests, provided him heavily redacted records or billed him more than $3,000 for the documents, the Idaho Press reported.

New district Superintendent Sherawn Reberry said the district will comply with the ruling. “We intend to be fully transparent to the extent of the law in the future,” Reberry told the Idaho Press.

Reberry was hired in July, and, in part, the records dispute centers on a controversy that predates her arrival. Moore sought records regarding the school board’s May decision not to extend a contract to Middleton High School Principal Ben Merrill. Among other records requests, Moore also sought records regarding allegations against Marianne Blackwell, a Merrill supporter who survived a recall election in August.
We’re taking an in-depth look at Idaho’s $26 million push to help young students read, and we want your help.

If you’re the parent of a kindergarten through third-grade student, Idaho Education News would like to ask you some questions.
Watch the full, in depth discussion below: