Bill to require elections for Idaho State Board of Education members fails in House

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 5:19 AM MDT
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BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —Board members for the Idaho State Board of Education are not going to have to worry about raising funds for campaigning, as House members voted down legislation that would require the members to be elected.

In a spirited debate, HB293 failed by the thinnest of margins Wednesday afternoon, 34 to 35.

Under the legislation, the seven board members would not be subject to statewide races. Each elected board member would be assigned a zone consisting of five legislative districts. Candidates for the state board of education would be nominated and elected only by the voters of that zone.

At the 2024 general election, three of the seven members would be elected to terms of two years each, and the other four members would be elected to terms of four years each. Thereafter, each member would be elected to terms of four years each.

Zones for the state board of education shall be as follows:

Zone 1: legislative districts 1 through 5;

Zone 2: legislative districts 6 through 10;

Zone 3: legislative districts 11 through 15;

Zone 4: legislative districts 16 through 20;

Zone 5: legislative districts 21 through 25;

Zone 6: legislative districts 26 through 30; and

Zone 7: legislative districts 31 through 35.

Additionally, elected board members would be compensated $12,000 per year.

Supporters of the legislation argued they would like to see the make-up of the board to be more representative of the state. Additionally, lawmakers felt the legislation would allow voters to hold the board members accountable. Currently, the board members are appointed by the governor, and four of the seven board members are from Boise.

“It’s just not right. As we know as things get more and more political there is different regions of this state thar have different issues, especially when it comes to education,” Rep. Heather Scott said.

However, those who voted against the legislation felt it would create an unnecessary precedent. If board members have to be elected, it might create partisanship and politicize the state board of education. Additionally, some felt if board members had to invest time and resources into campaigning for a primary and general election, it might create an incentive for individuals to not want to serve.

“Now its going to be tough to get good candidates. I’m told already there are not a lot of candidates for the state board under the current system. Under the proposed system, having to run in two elections its going to get a lot tougher, because the job only pays $12,000 year. No benefits,” Rep. John Gannon said.

Under the legislation, it would also make the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction the chair of the Idaho State Board of Education, due to the position being the only statewide elected member of the board.

During the House Floor debate, Rep, Julianne Young asked floor sponsor Rep. Joe Alfieri if Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield expressed any concerns over the legislation. Alfieri said,” No, concern at all from that office.”

In a statement Communications Director for the Idaho State Department of Education Scott Graf said: