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Superintendent of Idaho public schools running for third term

Sherri Ybarra
Campaign photo
Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra (FILE PHOTO)

Sherri Ybarra touts accomplishments, and says there is more work to do.

The top official of Idaho’s public education system plans to run for a third term.

Sherri Ybarra has been the superintendent of Idaho public instruction since 2015. She says she wants to hold on to the job for four more years. In the Republican field, she faces challenges from state Board of Education president Debbie Critchfield and former state lawmaker Branden Durst. No Democrat has announced a bid for the seat.

While Ybarra has the benefit of incumbency and name recognition, she trails in fundraising. So far, Critchfield is leading that category, with more than $164,000 on hand at the end of January. Ybarra reported having about $10,500, and Durst reported $6,300.

In a statement announcing her bid, Ybarra said she helped secure more funding for teacher salaries and literacy programs.

"Together we’ve made great progress and Idaho’s schools are on the right track," Ybarra said in a statement announcing her re-election bid. "Today I’m running for re-election because there’s more work to do, and I believe that we can make Idaho a top 10 state in K-12 education!”

Data show student learning during Ybarra’s tenure has been mixed. Standardized test scores have not risen at the rate state officials had hoped. Reading proficiency has dropped, and graduation rates are below state improvement goals.

The Republican primary is set for mid-May. Potential candidates face March deadlines to declare their intent.

Brandon Hollingsworth is your All Things Considered host. He has served public radio audiences for fifteen years, primarily in reporting, hosting and interviewing. His previous ports-of-call were WUOT-FM in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Alabama Public Radio. His work has been heard nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now and NPR’s top-of-the-hour newscasts.