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Lievich evokes a dueling story about education

State Board of Education President Kurt Lievich released two political narratives for Idaho on Wednesday.

One target was a familiar one. Levitch again denounced Idahoans for pushing an anti-public education agenda. It was a flimsy criticism of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a hardline conservative lobbying group, but Lievic did not name the group.

State Board of Education President Kurt Liebich leads the Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022 board meeting. Kyle Pfannenstiel/Idaho EdNews

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Kurt Lievich, President of the State Board of Education

But Liebich also criticized another storyline. He sees it as related to the Reclaim Idaho Education Fund voter initiative. Leevich said the campaign suggests that Idaho legislators are failing to fund the state’s schools.

Speaking at the Idaho Association of School Administrators annual meeting in Boise, Leivich said: “I think you have to be careful when using that story.”

Reclaim Idaho has proposed increasing the corporate tax rate for Idaho, increasing tax rates for individual Idaho citizens over $250,000 and for families over $500,000. The group says the Quality Education Act will raise $323 million annually for K-12s. The Freedom Foundation claims that the Reclaim initiative will also roll back the 2022 income tax cut and the annual price tag will put him at $573 million, with Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office agreeing. .

Reclaim says its initiative will boost spending for K-12s in states that rank near the bottom of the national spending per student ranking. Liebich on Wednesday acknowledged the state is trying to catch up, but said the state legislature has made a concerted effort over the past two years to boost K-12 spending.

This winter, lawmakers passed a $2.1 billion K-12 budget, up 11%.

Still, Lievic said public education will face political pressure during the 2023 legislative session. I expected nothing more.” And he said the culture war over public education shows no signs of slowing down.

“Our system is under attack,” Lievic said.

But Liebich says there is one thing administrators can do to counter the criticism. After Congress added her $46 million to the literacy item this year and the budget hits her $72 million, schools need to show lawmakers a return on investment.

“We have to move the literacy dial,” Lievic said. “You have to show that you’re moving every student.”

But Scott Woolstenhulme, superintendent of the Bonneville School District, cautioned against injecting cash right away and expecting immediate results. “I need some time,” he said.

Liebich and State Commission Executive Director Matt Freeman agree. “We need a five-year trendline before making any quantitative decisions,” Freeman said.

Check back with Idaho Education News for full coverage of the Idaho Association of School Administrators conference.

Kevin Richert

About Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and policy. He has over 30 years of experience in journalism in Idaho. He is a frequent guest on his KIVI 6 On Your Side. The Idaho Report on Idaho Public Television. “Idaho Matters” on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter. @KevinRichertHe can be reached at [email protected]

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