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EDlection 2018: Republican Sherri Ybarra Re-elected as Idaho School Superintendent in Close Race

By Kate Stringer | November 7, 2018

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EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

The close race for Idaho schools chief finally ended Wednesday after Republican incumbent Sherri Ybarra secured 51 percent of the vote, according to the Idaho Statesman. Ybarra returns for a second term after also narrowly winning the election in 2014.

Ybarra faced off against Democrat and long-time Idaho teacher Cindy Wilson.

The superintendent in Idaho runs a school system of nearly 300,000 K-12 students with a budget of nearly $2 billion. While Idaho schools perform slightly above average on national tests, its 80 percent graduation rate is a few points below other states and teacher pay ranks among the bottom of national comparisons. Idaho is one of six states that does not have a preschool program.

“Our graduation rate is going up and our teachers in Idaho need to be commended for that great work,” Ybarra said, according to Idaho Ed News. “Any gain we make in public education is to be celebrated.”

Both candidates have experience as teachers and both attended Idaho colleges, but Ybarra has education administration experience while Wilson does not.

Ybarra has made teacher pay and school safety her priorities, but she didn’t run a traditional campaign like her competitor. Wilson emphasized fundraising and growing her social media following.. Still Ybarra prevailed.

Wilson had campaigned on boosting student achievement, recruiting teachers, and creating public-private partnerships to support early childhood education..

“For me to run against a Republican incumbent in Idaho was kind of crazy,” Wilson told Idaho Ed News. “The fact that we have done as well as we have is really just so positive and I’m very pleased with what we’ve been able to do.”

EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

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