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Rural education plan returns; rushed return of rural ed plan

Idaho Legislature news



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— A plan to share resources between K-12 schools created by Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra was introduced directly to the floor without the usual hearing process, Friday, March 18, in a reappearance of the plan, which has been absent since Ybarra first presented the it earlier in the session.

The plan calls for the creation of Rural Education Support Centers, which would coordinate and deliver staffing resources to schools according only to what they specifically request, based on Washington’s model.

Rep. Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay, requested the immediate introduction of the bill, which would create a pilot program in School District Region 1, where his legislative district lies.

“This seems like an excellent opportunity,” Dixon said. “I know the superintendents in my district are very excited about this.”

Ybarra is requesting $300,000 for plan, which she said is seed money to get the pilot program going. The schools would complete the funding by paying for the services.

Some lawmakers on the committee opposed the motion, but not because they disliked the plan.

“I would like to see this, on the first round, go out to everybody,” said Rep. Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree. “Instead of incubating something, I would like to have something that’s really solidified.”

She said she would like a year or two to get the program, which she said she thought was a great idea, ready for all districts.

Ybarra said she and her staff are ready to move forward on the plan for the North Idaho district.

She said if districts could do this already, they would be,” Ybarra said. “We thought this through wholeheartedly and believe we’re on the right path.”

The plan has been absent since Ybarra’s presentations earlier last month, and the Education committees have focused on other initiatives like literacy interventions.

“There’s likely not to be any new money in education any time soon,” Ybarra said. “If there’s ever another recession, this is going to be the approach that we need to get services out to our kids.”



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