Credit: Contributed photo
Idaho Capitol Building
As of Tuesday, January 23, 2018
The Idaho State Board of Education voted to support Gov. Butch Otter’s recommendation to employee a higher education “CEO” Thursday afternoon, Jan. 18.
The executive officer would be the state’s highest paid governmental employee not working at a higher education institution, making $200,000 plus benefits. The person would be tasked with implementing the recommendations made by the Higher Education Task Force, including eliminating inefficiencies and reducing costs.
At the meeting, board member Emma Atchley of Ashton, questioned why the new employee should be paid more than executive director Matt Freeman. According to a “Transparent Idaho” report Thursday, Freeman currently makes $150,259 a year.
Andrew Skoggin, a member of the board, said the reason for the disparity in salaries is likely due to a difference in expectations.
“It’s a big, big, big job and we’re going to have to lure somebody who’s done that kind of massive integration,” Skoggin said.
Marilyn Whitney, Otter’s assistant in education issues, said Otter’s staff came to the $200,000 figure after looking at similar positions across the country.
“Of course, we always have to put that in the context of what’s possible in the state of Idaho,” she said.
Board president Linda Clark said the main goal is to identify where funds can be saved so they can be reallocated to “support academic pursuits and to support our students.”
“That’s really what this is all about and I don’t think we dare lose sight of that,” Clark said.
After less than 15 minutes of discussion, the board voted unanimously to endorse the recommendation.
The board also voted to support two other recommended changes at the meeting, including the addition of $5 million to the currently $10 million Opportunity Scholarship. The additional money would accommodate for another change to the scholarship that would make up to 20 percent of the funds available to eligible adults wanting to return to college.
The second bill defined which dual credit courses under the Advanced Opportunities program are eligible for the state to pay for.