In an effort to bring the amount of young Idahoans with a postsecondary academic degree or professional-technical credential to 60 percent, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has requested funds for the hiring of an executive officer for the State Board of Education. Announced during his State of the State address on Jan. 8, 2018, the move signals a dramatic shift in the arrangement of the State Board of Education.
Traditionally, the State Board of Education has been comprised of eight voting members, according to the Idaho State Board of Education website. In Governor Otter’s proposed executive officer model, the single executive officer would “coordinate the work of all our higher education institutions,” and “manage a system-wide consolidation of higher education support operations and the Board’s continuing policy functions.”
Further, Otter emphasized the changes would ensure economic improvements for Idaho.
“[The changes] will result in tens of millions of dollars in efficiencies–savings that can be used for scholarships and new initiatives,” Otter said.
Otter was sure to stress that his request was not for a “chancellor system,” as such a model would be unnecessarily taxing. Contrary to a chancellor system, the executive officer model would not allow schools to become campuses of a single university. According to Otter, the request is simply a way to increase the efficiency of the State Board of Education.
“This is not a reflection on our State Board of Education members or the leadership of our institutions,” Otter said. “The system itself is slow to adapt and too good at perpetuating the status quo. It simply is not equipped or empowered to make the big management changes needed to achieve our 60-percent goal. Without these changes, we very likely will make no more progress toward that goal in the next ten years than we have in the past seven.”
Originally, according to idednews.org, the goal of 60 percent of young adults with a higher education was slated for 2020. As of fall 2017, the higher education task force pushed the deadline to 2025.