In what has become an all too familiar situation this session, the Office of Performance Evaluation (OPE)—the research arm of the legislature—has released another report pointing out serious problems with a statewide system intended to assist school districts that ended up doing the opposite. OPE released a highly critical report Idaho’s Instructional System (Schoolnet) Offers Lessons for Future IT Projects on Monday.
The report, which is highly critical of the management of the Schoolnet instructional management system, “…concludes that poor management, poor decisions, and poor system functionality compounded themselves and prevented the goals for a statewide instructional management system from being realized.”
Schoolnet was introduced under the leadership of former state superintendent Tom Luna.
In a story filed Monday, Idaho Education News reporter Kevin Richert pointed out that more than $61 million has been spent on the system since 2011, when former Superintendent Luna convinced lawmakers to match money pledged by the Albertson Foundation with state revenues to help launch the system which was a part of his failed Luna laws. Voters repealed those laws by overwhelming margins in November 2012.
Questions and concerns about the Schoolnet system arose early on in the implementation and those concerns and questions continued throughout the years as school districts struggled to ensure the system worked effectively for teachers and students. According to the report, “The department minimized the significance of implementation problems, which left policymakers and the [Albertson] foundation with reassurances that Schoolnet was useful to districts.”
When school districts, administrators, and teachers continued to voice repeated complaints about the system, lawmakers asked OPE to conduct an in-depth study of the system, culminating in the OPE report.
House Approves Career Ladder Legislation
The House of Representatives quickly dispensed with HB 296 on Monday afternoon with no debate. Rep. Reed DeMordaunt (R-Eagle) presented the bill on the House floor and when debate was opened, not one representative rose to debate either in favor of or in opposition to the bill—a rare circumstance for legislation of this magnitude.
Only eight (8) legislators: Reps. Mike Moyle (R-Star), Kathy Sims (R-CDA), Shannon McMillan (R-Silverton), Vito Barbieri (R-Dalton Gardens), Steven Harris (R-Meridian), Jason Monks (R-Meridian), Joe Palmer (R-Meridian), and Heather Scott (R-Blanchard) voted against the bill.
HB 296 now makes its way across the rotunda to the Senate for further debate.
Education Stakeholders Oppose Dipping Into General Funds to Repair Roads
Members of the IEA, Idaho School Boards Association (ISBA) and the Idaho Association of School Administrators (IASA) released a statement to the press on Monday affirming their opposition to any proposed legislation that would divert money from Idaho’s general fund for the purpose of transportation funding.
“Because all education funding in Idaho comes from the general fund, diverting money to other projects would have a detrimental impact on our ability to adequately fund public schools and pay teachers,” said IEA President Penni Cyr. “At a time when it seemed as if our leaders were recognizing the crisis that we face in providing resources to attract and retain quality teachers, pulling money out of the primary funding source for education seems shortsighted.”
You can read the full statement on the IEA web page.