Tom Luna

Saturday, March 28, 2015

What?? McCall Star-News Headline States Tom Luna Is McCall's New School Superintendent

Posted By on Sat, Mar 28, 2015 at 11:06 AM

Tom Luna
  • Tom Luna
Readers of the McCall Star-News can be excused for dropping their coffee cups this morning when they read the headline "Former State Ed Chief Luna Hired as M-D Superintendent."

The front page story claims embattled former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna has been pegged to head the McCall-Donnelly School District, which actually is looking to hire a new superintendent.

"We couldn't believe it when he called and said he wanted the job. We're sorry to have led on the other applicants, but we felt we needed to address our computer literacy," reads a "quote" from M-D school board chair Laurie Erekson. 

"Here is where I can finally trade trying to act like I'm living in the moment for not really knowing what day it is," Luna is "quoted" as saying.

Of course, none of it is true. The front page story is the latest in a long list of Star-News April Fool's jokes. Over the years, the newspaper has "reported" a number of similarly unbelievable stories in its April Fool's editions:

-Military aircraft to monitor Fourth of July crowds on North Beach (2013)
-McCall Memorial Hospital will open a sports bar to help raise revenues (2009)
-A local hot springs becomes a nudist destination (2004)
-Bill Gates will buy Shore Lodge (2000)
-The Walt Disney Co. to buy Tamarack (1991)
-McCall City Hall is sinking after its foundations are undermined by gophers (1984)

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Judge Voids Sweetheart Broadband Contract After Idaho Shells Out Millions

Posted By on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 12:03 PM

The future of the Idaho Education Network hangs in the balance in the shadow of a ruling from a 4th District Court judge who said Idaho broke the law in its award of a broadband contract.

When Syringa Network lost a bid to be a broadband provider for Idaho's statewide network to link public schools and libraries—in spite of the fact that Syringa's bid was the least expensive and most technically proficient—Syringa sued Idaho, alleging that then-Department of Administration Director Mike Gwartney had "blackballed" Syringa from state contracts. Instead, Idaho granted a joint $60 million deal to Education Networks of America and Qwest. The State of Idaho tried to later amended the deal, cutting Syringa out of the picture and giving all of the contract to ENA solely.

It was later learned that two of ENA's top Idaho staffers had direct ties to Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, who announced the ENA deal. Garry Lough, a top ENA official, was an aide to Luna in 2007 and Mike Vance, an ENA account services manager, served on Luna's campaign staff in 2006. Additionally, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's campaign finance director, Martin Bilbao, was a former ENA staffer.

And now 4th District Court Judge Patrick Owen says that the Department of Administration broke Idaho's procurement law. And in spite of the DOA attempts to backpedal on the deal by amending the contract, Owen said the state's "efforts to salvage these void contracts were futile and of no effect." The bottom line: The contract is void in spite of the fact that Idaho has paid ENA millions of dollars since 2009 and has continued to receive federal funds to help subsidize those costs.

Meanwhile, the 2014 Idaho Legislature voted to keep funds going to the Idaho Education Network, but only until February 2015. Additionally, the state has paid a private attorney more than $750,000 to defend the state in the case.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

New Recall Campaign on Blackboard

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 9:26 AM

Pete Peterson, who waged a gubernatorial campaign against Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter using a "beat Butch" thong, has set his sights on Tom Luna again, testing the political waters for another possible recall effort to bounce the state superintendent of public instruction from office.

"We changed our 2012 Luna recall tactics," read a statement from Peterson, referring to the unsuccessful effort to garner 158,000 signatures to put a recall on last year's ballot. Only 50,000 valid signatures were collected.

Peterson said he has a plan to collect $30,000 to launch another statewide recall campaign, which could being on April 30.

Peterson said his effort may fail "for one of two reasons:

"People are too apathetic and defeated to get involved," or "I fail to make ubiquitous."

Peterson appeared to be confident, stating his intention to hold a noontime rally on Saturday, May 1, on the Statehouse steps.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Luna, IEA, Idaho Reporter in a Tweet-Off

Posted By on Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 12:12 PM

While Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's Students Come First Technology Task Force was meeting at the Statehouse, some partisan comments were burning up Twitter this morning, including tweets from Luna, the Idaho Education Association, a former state representative and a writer from Idaho Reporter, a product of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, whose director, Wayne Hoffman, isn't shy about his support for the so-called Luna Laws.

This morning's tweets began when the IEA referred to Meridian School Superintendent Linda Clark's remarks at the SCF meeting that more online courses would require extra staff.

"We've been asking since January: How many Idaho jobs will be lost due to Luna's tech mandates," tweeted the IEA.

"Is eduction a jobs program?" tweeted Dustin Hurst, reporter for Idaho Reporter.

"Education has always been a major employer in every Idaho community, providing stable, middle-class jobs," tweeted the IEA.

"I understand that, I do," tweeted Hurst. "But is the point of our schools to provide jobs or to educate our kids?"

A few minutes later, the tweets continued ...

"IEA's point is that Idaho online classes may be taught by teachers in Virginia, Bangalore, or wherever," tweeted the IEA.

"The SDE [State Department of Education] has intentionally been misleading the education community and stood in the way of clarifying the law regarding this," tweeted Hurst.former Democratic Rep. Branden Durst of Boise.

That's when Luna jumped in.

"The goal of the SCF reforms is deliver our students the high quality education they deserve with the state's limited funds," tweeted Luna. "No one is working 'on the cheap.' Idaho's voters have indicated they would like an efficient system that does not raise taxes."

"Idahoans have indicated they do not like punitive reforms that target teachers, cut local control, impose mandates. See you in Nov. 2012," tweeted the IEA.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Luna at White House: 'Symbolic Shift' of No Child Left Behind

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 2:46 PM

Tom Luna with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) at White House
  • UPI Newspictures
  • Tom Luna with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) at White House

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna flew to Washington, D.C., to champion the Obama administration's new flexibility on No Child Left Behind.

"I believe this is a symbolic shift of power from the federal government back to the states," said Luna at a White House ceremony this morning.

Under a new plan, Idaho and other states can get a waiver under NCLB to create new systems of increased accountability that focus on academic growth and college and career readiness. Under the current law, states can only measure school success based on proficiency. Today, Obama announced a process for states to request waivers from the law, opening the door for new accountability systems.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Boise punished in ed cuts

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2009 at 12:36 PM

One of the K-12 education cuts Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna has proposed will disproportionately affect the Boise School District, according to Boise Super Stan Olson.

Luna proposes eliminating the cost-per-mile reimbursement for busing students in urban areas, a $1.7 million savings to the state. But $1.45 million of that cut would come exclusively out of the Boise schools, according to a district estimate.

Moscow, Lewiston and Twin Falls schools would also be affected.

Olson and a platoon of Boise School District officials met with Democratic legislators on Monday to put some numbers to the proposed K-12 cuts. Of the $62 million in cuts that Luna has floated, $8 to $10 million would come from the Boise School District coffers.

“We’re very opposed to this,” Olson said of the busing cuts. “We’ve spent a lot of money to get under the cap.”

The state reimburses districts for most of their transportation costs based on either a cost-per-mile or a cost-per-pupil equation—whichever comes in cheaper, below a statewide average. The cost-per-mile measure has incentivized the Boise School District to encourage walking, investing in crossing guards and building a new bus facility.

If they had to rely on the cost-per-student formula, BSD would get less money back, to the tune of $1.45 million.

Luna spokeswoman Melissa McGrath responded:
Superintendent Luna does not want to make these cuts. He has said they are all bad ideas, and we understand that these bad ideas will negatively impact school districts in one way or another. It is unfortunate that we have to suggest cuts like this, but given the economic realities we are now facing, these budget reductions are necessary to meet revenue projections.
Other proposed cuts that would filter down to Boise schools:
  • $1.6 million in discretionary funds
  • $91,000 for field trips and other transportation
  • 4.1 full time equivalent administrative positions
  • Millions of dollars in teacher salary cuts
  • $300,000 for textbooks
  • $50 for supplies in every classroom ($72,000 total)
“Very quickly, it gets to people and positions,” Olson told lawmakers.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Luna extends PLATO contract

Posted By on Thu, Nov 6, 2008 at 8:16 PM

Idaho schools' chief Tom Luna has negotiated a 90-day extension to the state's contract with Plato Learning, a Minnesota-based online and computerized education company that provides remediation services to many IDaho students who fail Idaho's graduation tests.

As we reported this week, Luna recently discovered that the company's lessons do not adequately match up with Idaho schools content standards, but the 90-day extension will include further review.

Luna announced the extension in another memo to school administrators:

AP's Jessie Bonner has more (via Press-Tribune).

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