• Gov. Dirk Kempthorne
Gov. Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho is proposing to spend for the first time in state history, more than $1 billion on public schools in fiscal 2007. He made the announcement Jan. 9 in his eighth and final State of the State Address.
Finance: That amount would represent a 4.9 percent increase over the fiscal 2006 appropriation of $999 million. The proposed budget also includes a $27 million increase for teacher salaries, which would bring Idaho’s starting annual salary to $30,000. The governor also wants to add $4.5 million for school construction and maintenance.
Gov. Kempthorne, a Republican, expressed the desire to better prepare Idaho students for the workforce by increasing the amount of mathematics and science coursework that is necessary to graduate from high school. The state now requires only two years of each; the state board of education has recommended four years of math and three of science.
Also, listen to an audio version of Gov. Kempthorne’s speech. (Audio file requires a media player.)
“This will keep our students competitive with those in other states and other countries, and it will bring our minimum high school standards in line with our own state college-entrance requirements,” he said. “We live in a 21st-century economy. We need a 21st-century education.”
He also proposed establishing a statewide community college network, using existing facilities such as public schools and government buildings to hold classes.
Bonds: Other aspirations included strengthening physical education programs and placing a proposal on the Idaho ballot that would lower the supermajority for approval of school bonds from 66.7 percent to 60 percent.