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State Board of Education Fined

By Brooke Hale

Boise -

The state board of education is being fined $104,000 by the U.S. Department of Education.

The federal government says Idaho hasn't met federal standardized testing requirements, so they're taking 25% of next year's administrative budget.

To understand this story you first have to understand the difference between the Department of Education and the Board of Education. The Board of Education is essentially a governing body separate from the department.

The Idaho Department of Education gets $92 million from the federal government. Administrative staff will be most affected, since the fine will come out of the Boise office's $418,000 budget.

State Superintendent Marilyn Howard blames the State Board of Education for the fine, saying the State Educational Department will be penalized because the board failed to meet federal standards in time.

Three years ago Marilyn Howard was faced with a possible multi million dollar fine, so she signed a compliance agreement. She then turned the responsibility over to the state board 18 months ago.

A state board spokeswoman says the education department hasn't complied with federal regulations since 1994, but believes the board and the department share responsibility.

"It's unfortunate that there would be blame cast when it really is a result of two agencies. The department signed a compliance agreement because federal guidelines have not been met for over eight years and the board had to assume those responsibilities because those obligations had not been met," said State Board spokesperson Luci Willits.

Parents and administrators, Friday night, say the tests are important. But they don't necessarily think a standardized test is helpful for students all across the board, especially with the lack of funding.

"If you could level all the social economic basis throughout all the states you could also level testing and monies. There isn't that money here in Idaho. Withdrawing it is only going to hurt our students," said Twin Falls parent, Cindy Harding.

"The federal government is requiring us to keep up with their regulation. Unfortunately they don't provide all the funding for us to do it, so it makes us difficult," said Carolyn Rapp, Boise High School Assistant Principal.

Until three years ago Idaho wasn't doing any standardized testing, and since then the tests haven't met the regulations.

The state board says they'll be up to federal standard in six months.

— Brooke Hale


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