The Idaho State Department of Education is committed to providing equal access to high quality education everywhere in Idaho. About three quarters of districts in Idaho are considered rural as defined in Idaho statute. These districts, and the schools within them, are regularly challenged to find and retain effective teachers to meet the needs of all of their students, transport students quickly and safely to and from school, and respond to unexpected personnel or technology needs in order to deliver uninterrupted instruction.
To support rural districts and schools, the SDE will:
- Find new and promising solutions for addressing challenges faced by rural districts and schools.
- Help to improve and scale existing efforts to ensure that rural communities have access to excellent schools and educators.
2017 Idaho Legislative Session: Rural Education Support Networks
The SDE will enable groups of districts to pool their resources in order to fill high-need positions and procure expensive equipment. District superintendents have indicated that this would allow them to better offer services for their students, such as college and career counseling, special education instruction, and transportation. To enable this, the SDE introduced legislation during the 2016 and 2017 legislative sessions.
A Rural Education Support Network will serve a coordinating role, dedicating its efforts to distributing instructional staff or equipment to districts as needed, and where agreed to by the districts involved. Unlike comprehensive service agencies, Rural Education Support Networks will not levy taxpayers, nor will they entail physical buildings to which students would be transported. It would not create another layer of bureaucracy, only responding to the greatest needs of the districts they serve with a lean staff.
After the 2017 legislative session, a rural education workgroup was convened to make recommendations for improving rural education, including ideas for 2018 legislative action. SDE will be working with the recommendations of this group to keep advocating for education in rural Idaho.