Monthly Archives: March 2013

Moving Blaine Forward

A new blog,, was developed two days after Superintendent Barber’s received another contract extension by the BCSD Board of Trustees. There have been some interesting articles posted. Go check it out:


High Noon?

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Thought for the Week

What if the District put its attention into the classroom action instead of the courtroom action?

The District did confirm the other day that a second, California-based law firm has been engaged for the McKinstry legal case. That firm was paid approximately $50,000 this month, according to the Board’s Consent Agenda. This was on top of the $50,000 paid to the highly-regarded Greener law firm in Boise, who represents the District in the matter.

That’s over $100,000 for a single month’s legal work. What would $100,000 A MONTH buy the Blaine County School District if it were focused on work in the classroom, rather than the courtroom?

Classrooms, not Courtrooms!

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Two Letters Questioning Cost vs. Performance Value

Today’s Mt. Express published a letter written by Barbara and Spence Browning, which outlines BCSD Superintendent Lonnie Barber’s compensation package. The letter goes on to question such a generous compensation package while SAT scores have been solidly average while district spending has been 2 to 3 times what other districts spend. Continue reading

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A Word About the SAT Scores

At the Trustees’ meeting the other night, Mr. Nurge was critical of certain members of the community, claiming they’d characterized the academic results as “dismal”.  To put the record straight, let’s be clear that the SAT scores for BCSD, as posted in the April 2012 State Test Day results, are very, well, average.  In a couple of areas they were a few points below average, in one a couple of points above.  Not horrific, not dismal.  Just pretty much average.

However, this is certainly not what you’d expect from a district that describes itself as “world class”, “among the Top 5 in the region”, “best in the state”.  And, definitely not what you’d expect from a district that spends 2-3X more per student than those districts that ARE the best in the state.

The mediocrity of the test scores doesn’t really stem from having a lot of low-scoring test takers, either.  No one’s “dragging down the test scores” as a certain highly-placed BCSD administrator implied to me last year.  In fact, BCSD does a wonderful job with less academically-capable kids and we have far fewer low scores than the statistics would suggest.

The problem, which I’ve tried over the last several years to explain to the head statistician and to the superintendent, is that we don’t have a lot of high-scoring test-takers either.  In fact, we have far fewer than the statistics say we should have.

For example, in the 2012 Test Day results for the Math Section of the SAT here’s an eye-opener:

Shoshone High School had 13 kids take the SAT in April 2012.  Two of those kids scored over 700.  (800 is perfect and anything over 700 is epic-good.  Those students in Shoshone did an awesome job and should be congratulated!)By contrast, the statistics say WRHS should have had 6 or 7 score up in that high bracket, but in fact we had no kids break north of 700 in Math.

Think about that a second.  Shoshone’s got less than 10% of the student population but still had two kids up in the highest score bracket.  We spend 30X more on our schools and no one topped the chart?  Why is that? 

Here is the link to the State Department of Education’s Score Report.  It’s a fascinating read, if you have the time:

Click to access Idaho%20School%20Day%20Report%20by%20District%20Clusters%20091412.pdf

No statistics were harmed in any way in the formation of this post.

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Guthrie and Bates’ Seats up for Election May 21st

In today’s Idaho Mountain Express, Terry Smith reports:

“Two Blaine County School District board of trustee seats now held by Chair Steve Guthrie and Trustee Paul Bates will be up for election in May.

“Both Guthrie and Bates confirmed this week that they plan to seek re-election.

“The School District announced Monday that it is accepting ‘declarations of candidacy’ and that the candidate-filing deadline is Friday, March 22, at 5 p.m.”

For the full article: School trustee seats are up for election

This election will be held in conjunction with the state primary election to be held May 21st.

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