Is it possible that the legislature has identified a way to keep the embattled Idaho Education Network running? Senate Finance Chair Dean Cameron (R-Rupert) informed members of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) that they will be asked to consider a short-term funding fix on Tuesday morning.
According to a report by Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News and a blog post by Spokesman Review reporter Betsy Russell, the final proposal is still being inked. But, it is likely that it will be a partial fix to keep the system running through the end of this school year. JFAC will not be asked approve a one-year bridge contract, authorize back payments, or send payments directly to schools to purchase their own broadband contracts. Sen. Cameron told the Senate Education Committee late on Monday afternoon that JFAC’s short-term fix will likely take the form of appropriations for reimbursements for expenses incurred to keep district services online through the remainder of this school year. He indicated that JFAC would allocate a “substantial amount” and that reporting and/or monitoring provisions would be included.
According to today’s reports, earlier estimates of $1.6 million to keep IEN running for the remainder of the school year have been re-evaluated and the estimate has now grown to $2.4 million.
In comments to reporters, Sen. Cameron seemed to indicate a reluctance to commit future oversight of the IEN to the Department of Administration (DOA). Last week, DOA Director Teresa Luna told lawmakers that the federal Department of Justice has been interviewing employees as they continue their investigation into the now voided contract.
The Wait Continues for Tiered Certification/Career Ladder Proposals
Though the Governor’s staff had predicted that a piece of legislation would be introduced on Monday introducing a new certification plan and career ladder pay system for teachers, no such plan was introduced in any legislative committee on Monday.
At some point in the near future, lawmakers are going to have to make decisions about this and other Governor’s Task Force recommendations that have been put into legislative proposals so that a K-12 education funding bill can be created and voted on. It remains to be seen whether the issue of career ladders or tiered certification will be introduced this week.
OPE Unveils Study of K-12 Longitudinal Data System
Each year, the Office of Performance Evaluation (OPE), the research arm of the legislature, undertakes a handful of studies requested by lawmakers. On Monday, OPE released a study of Idaho’s K-12 Longitudinal Data System (ISEE). The report was critical of the State Department of Education’s work to develop and implement Idaho’s ISEE system under the leadership of former state superintendent Tom Luna.
It is important to note that this particular report focused on the data collection part of the system, not School Net. OPE is expected to unveil a report on that portion of the state system later this legislative session.
Idaho spent a total of $12 million (a combination of federal grant funds and Idaho funding) to build ISEE; and, the annual ongoing cost to maintain the system is $1.4 million.
The OPE study pointed out that many of the mistakes made in the failed state data collection project in the early 2000’s were repeated when developing and implementing ISEE. The SDE nderestimated impact on districts, lacked a formal process for communicating information about data to districts and initially provided minimal training and technical support to districts. Further, challenges stemming from the initial implementation and ongoing management of ISEE persist, and data collection continues to burden districts.
The report recommended that in the future, the SDE:
- Develop a formal structure for gathering input from key stakeholders and policymakers;
- Improve documentation, justifying the need for the data being collected and the cost of district data collection; and
- Make certain that the data elements and collection activities are aligned with the goals, needs, and capacity of stakeholders.