With education and public infrastructure being high priorities on his agenda, District 9 lawmaker Rep. Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth, spoke to the Independent-Enterprise on Jan. 3 about his goals for the 2020 Idaho legislative session, which is currently underway.
Independent-Enterprise: What are your top priorities for this new session?
Kerby: I will be working on school funding issues. The Career Ladder needs to be updated, and the funding formula discussion will continue. We need to make sure the schools in District 9 are in a position to graduate students ready to start college or careers.
IE: You previously passed S. 1105 to help high school juniors and seniors with taking apprenticeships and worked to expand mastery-based education in Idaho. What have been the results of those efforts since then?
Kerby: I’ve spoken with a number of districts who are ramping up their efforts to match journeymen in the trades with interested students. It will take some time for full implementation, but schools and businesses are moving forward.
IE: What other measures do you have planned to benefit education in Idaho?
Kerby: I hope to help get the rules approved without disrupting education too much. I would like to see student achievement improve in the state, and will look to modify statute that will help in that arena.
I would like to see the smaller schools get some of the funding for at risk students that presently goes only to the larger districts. Also, we have a huge achievement gap in Idaho schools between the general population and our students in poverty. I believe it is imperative that we address this in some fashion.
IE: How do you feel about the current state of education funding in Idaho?
Kerby: During my five years in the legislature we have seen solid increases, especially in bringing starting teacher pay up from $32,500 to $40,000. However, our veteran teachers have been largely left out of the increases, and the issue needs to be addressed.
IE: How do you feel about the Idaho legislature’s spending priorities, as they stand?
Kerby: I like Gov. Little’s emphasis on education. I feel we need to continue trying to make Idaho school districts more competitive when hiring teachers.
I also would like to keep the counties in a financial position to where they can keep their roads maintained, bridges updated, etc. Not everyone in the legislature shares that thinking.
IE: In 2019, you passed a measure that gives first time DUI offenders an optional diversion program, to help steer them toward staying sober behind the wheel. Where do your efforts to help curb drunk driving take you next?
Kerby: Probably let that bill have an effect over time, and work with others who have an interest in this topic. I do not have any additional legislation planned.