A Mountain Home educator is poised to receive the Republican Party's nomination for Idaho superintendent of public instruction despite receiving less than 30 percent of the vote in Tuesday's primary.
With 99 percent of the state's precincts reporting, Sherri Ybarra held a nearly 6,000-vote lead over second-place challenger Randy Jensen, principal of William Thomas Middle School in American Falls Just 1,300 votes separated Jensen from third- and fourth-place challengers John Eynon, a music teacher in the Cottonwood School District, and Andrew Grover, superintendent of the Melba School District.
Ybarra, 42, has worked for the Mountain Home School District since 1996. She's currently its director of curriculum and federal standards. She previously was principal of West Elementary School. She is married and has a 13-year-old son who attends Mountain Home Junior High.
Democrat Jana Jones ran unopposed in her party's primary. Jones barely lost to GOP incumbent Tom Luna in 2006 and is expected to be a strong challenger in November's general election. Luna opted not to run for a third term.
The Gem State is one of 13 states where the superintendent of public instruction is an elected office.
The superintendent serves a four-year term, must be at least 25, a U.S. citizen and hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. Before two-term incumbent Tom Luna took office, most superintendents had some education experience. However, Luna broke that trend when he was elected to the post in 2006 as the state's first non-educator.
The state superintendent oversees a $1.4 billion education budget, nearly half of the state's total budget. The money goes to educate 289,063 students in 115 school districts, plus charter schools. Duties include:
Producing a budget for public schools, which often competes with one from the governor.
Setting the political agenda for public eduction, often trying to woo the Legislature toward a particular education goal.
Serving on the State Board of Education, which sets policy for public education from kindergarten through college.
Serving on the Land Board, which administers state lands to receive the maximum possible income for public schools. The governor, secretary of state, attorney general and state controller also sit on the Land Board.
The superintendent's salary will be $102,667 beginning Jan 1, 2015.
The Associated Press contributed