Waiting game: Educators watch Ybarra’s transition closely

Sherri Ybarra isn’t saying significantly about her transition as state superintendent-elect — or about her plans when she requires office in January.

So regional training officials are in waiting mode. They aren’t positive what to count on, so they’re also hoping for the best.

“I want her not to fail,” McCall-Donnelly School District Superintendent Glen Szymoniak said Thursday, in the course of a break in the Idaho School Boards Association’s yearly convention in Boise. “Everybody in the state needs her to do well.”

Oct. 2 Ybarra

State superintedent-elect Sherri Ybarra speaks to educators during an Oct. 2 debate in Boise.

But for some, optimism is tempered by the fact that the clock is ticking.

“It’s vital that she start building a coalition,” Boise district Superintendent Don Coberly mentioned. “It’s not going to be adequate to start in January. She demands to hit the ground operating.”

The transition to date

Nine days following narrowly winning the superintendent’s race, the Republican Ybarra is even now functioning full-time in the Mountain Property School District.

She’s in the midst of meeting with stakeholders and legislators, assembling a transition staff and drawing up a prolonged-term staffing plan, mentioned Melinda Nothern, Ybarra’s campaign spokeswoman, who is operating with the superintendent-elect for the subsequent few weeks.

On Tuesday, Ybarra met with outgoing state superintendent Tom Luna and his leadership staff, and held an open meeting to let any of the State Department of Education’s 140 staff the possibility to get acquainted.

The Ybarra staff will surely appear different than the team that surrounded Luna during his eight many years in office. Several leading staffers have left since January, when Luna explained he would not seek a third phrase. Now, Chief of Staff Luci Willits is also on her way out last week, she announced that she is leaving for a work with Smarter Balanced, the contractor that is getting ready Widespread Core-aligned exams for Idaho and other states.

Not surprisingly, the Ybarra transition has been the topic of substantial scuttlebutt at this week’s ISBA convention. New Plymouth district Superintendent Ryan Kerby — a fellow Republican who supported Ybarra’s candidacy and himself was elected to a state Residence seat in Nov. four — is not sure what is taking place behind the scenes. But Kerby would rather see Ybarra consider the time to put with each other a talented and loyal crew, alternatively of generating a snap employ that turns out to be a error. “I’d hate to see her get as well significantly in a hurry.”

An amicable procedure

The last time Idaho moved from 1 state superintendent to the subsequent, the transition was turbulent. Initial, outgoing superintendent Marilyn Howard drew criticism for awarding more than $ 120,000 in bonuses virtually every single Training Department staffer received a share of the income. Then, Luna came below scrutiny for firing 19 of Howard’s staffers.

And all of this unfolded just before Luna’s 1st day on the job.

Partisan politics certainly entered into the equation, as the Republican Luna took the helm from Howard, a Democrat. This time, as a single Republican is succeeding another, the two principals are proceeding cautiously.

Following at first agreeing to speak about the transition approach, Luna denied Idaho Schooling News’ interview request a couple of hours later on. “He would like to give Superintendent-elect Ybarra some time to determine how the transition ought to be dealt with,” Luna spokesman Brady Moore explained in an electronic mail. “Superintendent Luna would be satisfied to talk about the transition right after some more time has passed.”

For her part, Ybarra is trying to be mindful of the truth that, right up until January, Luna is still in charge at the Schooling Division.

“She’s refraining from commenting on department operations, at present,” Nothern stated Thursday.

Wait-and-see mode

When Ybarra breaks her silence on policy matters, there will be loads to talk about. In some form, a controversial tiered instructor licensure program is very likely to go just before the 2015 Legislature. Colleges will carry on to prepare to administer the Smarter Balanced exams — which, for the very first time this spring, will count as a school and pupil accountability measure. A latest court ruling has thrown Idaho’s higher school broadband network into limbo, and taxpayers could have to commit hundreds of thousands to save the technique. Ybarra also will inherit, or rewrite, the last price range Luna has ready as state superintendent, which includes a 3 % boost for salaries and positive aspects and $ ten million to reverse some of the spending budget cuts schools sustained in the course of the economic downturn.

Ybarra the candidate sent inconsistent messages on the budget — at occasions saying she would help Luna’s budget, at other instances expressing skepticism about the need to improve paying and reverse the recession-era budget cuts. During the campaign, she explained tiered licensure was a stage in the appropriate route, a statement that left Coberly wanting a lot more detail.

West Ada School District trustee Anne Ritter is also uncertain what to assume.

“I’m concerned, and I’m concerned because I by no means heard from her a clear knowing of the breadth of the work,” she stated. “I’m hoping I missed it.”

Kerby has no such worries. For eight years, Luna was a change agent. Now, Ybarra will return the emphasis to the essentials. And he describes her as a “guru” on curriculum, evaluation and information analysis.

“I believe Sherri Ybarra is precisely what Idaho needs,” he explained. “She’s truly excellent at what we actually need.”

Nevertheless, some administrators are nevertheless waiting to hear for themselves. Even though Luna addressed the ISBA convention Thursday morning, Ybarra did not. Executive Director Karen Echeverria informed attendees what she told Idaho Training Information earlier this week: There wasn’t enough time soon after the election to get Ybarra onto the agenda.

“I feel everyone would have been thrilled to see her right here and interact with her,” Szymoniak said.

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