The Idaho State Board of Education could get additional authority to administer and delegate state school policy. The Senate approved legislation Monday that claims to make the state board more efficient. The House already approved the legislation, but senators added an amendment to the measure that needs House approval. One senator critical of the proposal said it could give university presidents more power to adjust faculty salaries.
“This does give the state board a broad responsibility to delegate authority given to it," said Senate Minority Leader Kate Kelly, D-Boise, who supported the measure. She said the Senate amendment would add a safeguard by requiring the state board to notify the public when it delegates authority.
The Senate vote was 28-7. Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, was the only senator to speak against the plan during debate Monday. He said the Legislature shouldn't give the state board more power to set policy. “The ramifications of it are going to shake out in ways you probably can’t imagine yet,” he told fellow senators. He said faculty at Idaho public universities and colleges oppose the plan. “There’s no stability for being in an Idaho university once you grant this power to a university president.” He said the change would make Idaho less attractive to potential new college professors, which could harm research and economic development stemming from state schools. “I’m told that we’re going to have difficulty attracting the guys and the gals that are going to attract money,” Schroeder said.
Senate Education Committee chair John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, said Schroeder's claims wouldn't sway him. “I will not have my vote influenced by rumor or threat of censure," he said. "I don’t think university presidents are going to be arbitrary in dealing with faculty.” Goedde added that university presidents currently can't promote an employee from janitor to head janitor without approval from the state board and said the Legislature has given the state board the authority to execute policy decisions 37 times in the past.