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Idaho superintendent candidates face off in debate

Terry Gilbert and Debbie Critchfield shake hands
Jim Hadley
Idaho Public Television
Terry Gilbert (D), left and Debbie Critchfield shake hands following their debate Monday to be Idaho's next Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Candidates running to be Idaho’s next superintendent of public instruction vastly differed on how they would prioritize spending a massive boost to education funding.

In September, state lawmakers dedicated $410 million dollars towards boosting education funding – the vast majority of which would go to K-12 public schools.

Speaking Monday night during a debate on Idaho Public Television, Republican Debbie Critchfield wants to use that money to further develop career and vocational programs.

“I think we can build bridges from high school to [two and four-year colleges], to other technical programs, so that we make it as seamless as possible,” Critchfield said.

Her Democratic opponent, Terry Gilbert, a lifelong educator, said he also supports vo-tech programs. But he’d use the money in a different way.

“I would spend half of it on our literacy problem – both math literacy, English literacy – and I would spend half of it basically on salaries,” Gilbert said, noting that would include pay bumps for support staff, too.

On the subject of school choice and student vouchers, Gilbert said such programs would eliminate public education as we know it.

Critchfield, the former president of the state board of education and a former school board member, says she supports giving parents more options, but not if it cuts money currently going to classrooms.

Early voting is already underway in many counties and absentee ballots are still available. Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time on Nov. 8.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

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