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Madison superintendent named to education task force

By Stephanie Hale-Lopez
Published On: Jan 30 2013 02:38:26 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 09 2013 07:24:17 PM CST

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter created a 30 member, bipartisan task force to assess Idaho's education system and make new suggestions for possible reform, and an upper valley school official is part of it.

REXBURG, Idaho -

Since Idaho voters rejected Propositions 1, 2 and 3, state leaders have been searching for a way to better education.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter created a 30 member, bipartisan task force to assess Idaho's education system and make new suggestions for possible reform.

Otter unveiled the names of the task force members Wednesday. They range from educators to politicians and businessmen, and one is from the upper valley.

"What the task force is looking to do is shape the future of public education for years to come," said Dr. Geoffrey Thomas, Madison school superintendent.

Thomas is one of five school administrators on the task force.

With 30 years of public education experience, Thomas said he knows how much schools need financial stability and that will be one of his goals.

"We need to know how much money we have and that we can rely on it," said Thomas. "It's very difficult to maintain an organization, when you're mandated by the constitution to do so, when you don't know where the funding is going to be."

Idaho schools have had a 15 percent cut since the year 2000, but a 20 percent increase in the number of students. Thomas said the rapid growth combined with limited funding is difficult to manage.

"That makes it very difficult to maintain quality programs and a quality education process for children, when those two dynamics are going in opposite directions," said Thomas.

Thomas said he also like to see a restoration of base salaries that were either cut, loss or re-directed in the last 10 years, as well as more authority given to local school boards.

The task force will have its first meeting this Friday in Boise.

"I believe that together we can charter a course that will be beneficial to everyone in Idaho," said Thomas.

Right now, there's about $37 million left over from the failed education reforms.

Thomas said Otter may be able to gear that money toward what the task force determines best.

Here are the names of the task force members:

- Richard Westerberg, Chair, State Board of Education
- Doug Baker, University of Idaho
- Laurie Boeckel, Idaho Parent Teacher Association
- Roger Brown, Governor’s Office
- Cheryl Charlton, Idaho Digital Learning Academy
- Linda Clark, IASA, Joint School District No. 2 (Meridian)
- Penni Cyr, Idaho Education Association
- Reed DeMordaunt (R), Idaho House of Representatives
- Karen Echeverria, Idaho School Boards Association
- Ken Edmunds, State Board of Education
- Wayne Freedman, ISBA Past President
- John Goedde (R), Idaho State Senate
- Steve Higgins, IASA, Grangeville School District
- Mary Huff, ISBA, Melba School Board Member
- Teresa Jackman, IEA, Pocatello
- Alex LaBeau, Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry
- Mike Lanza, IEA, ID Parents & Teachers
- Rod Lewis, State Board of Education
- Bob Lokken, Idaho Business for Education
- Tom Luna, Superintendent of Public Instruction
- Alan Millar, Idaho Charter School Network
- Phyllis Nichols, Counselor, New Plymouth School District
- Katie Pemberton, Coeur d’Alene School District
- Roger Quarles, Idaho Leads Project
- Mary Ann Ranells, IASA, Lakeland School District
- Anne Ritter, ISBA President, Meridian School Board Member
- Brian Smith, IEA, Sandpoint
- Geoffrey Thomas, IASA, Madison School District
- Janie Ward-Engelking (D), Idaho House of Representatives
- Cindy Wilson, IEA, Meridian
- Rob Winslow, Idaho Association of School Administrators

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