Credit: Contributed photo
Idaho Capitol Building
As of Monday, March 5, 2018
BOISE The Idaho House Education Committee passed a bill last Friday, March 2, that would create a Rural Support Network for Idaho schools.
This is the third year in a row Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra has pushed for the network, which has never been approved.
Though the bill has passed the House committee, State Department of Education Chief Policy Advisor Duncan Robb said the implementation of the network is contingent on the appropriation of $300,000 Ybarra has asked the state for. The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee has not approved that request, though it is still possible for public schools to receive that money from JFAC.
Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, said she had concerns about the cost, which would be up to $300,000 a year for three years, or a maximum total of $900,000.
“The intent of the funds is really to create a foundation upon which a sustainable program can be built,” Robb said. “It would give the time for the districts to potentially realize some savings that they could then put back into the network.”
Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene, said part of the reason the bill failed last year was an existing law already allows districts to work together. Rob Winslow, executive director of the Idaho Association of School Administrators, said while districts do work together under current law, it can be difficult for them to do so effectively.
“Right now it’s just trickier- who has the time to do all that,” Winslow said. “So that’s certainly why a lot of members want to try this.”
Rep. Ryan Kerby, a republican from New Plymouth who acted as the city’s schools superintendent for 21 years, said a person assisting rural districts through the network would help with relationships and save time for district employees.
“If this would get started and work really well, it’d just really be helpful,” he said. “I know I would have loved to have had one.”
The bill will next be heard in the House.