Idaho governor answers questions from Highland High School students - East Idaho News

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Idaho governor answers questions from Highland High School students

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POCATELLO — Idaho Gov. Brad Little visited the Gate City Tuesday to answer questions from students who will benefit from recent funding measures taken by the state legislature.

Little addressed junior and senior students from Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25. He spoke to them about the recently finished 2024 legislative session and highlighted the work the state had done for young people and their education, including a program called Idaho LAUNCH.

“(Idaho LAUNCH) is going to change the opportunities for young people for generations to come,” Little said.

Idaho LAUNCH is a program that that provides students with a one-time grant that covers 80% of their tuition and fees at an eligible institution, up to $8,000. There is 75 million dollars appropriated to this program, allowing it to offer between 9,000 to 10,000 awards per year.

RELATED | CEI enrollment expected to ‘boom’ with new Idaho LAUNCH Grant

Little spoke to how much the landscape has changed for prospective college students. He remembers the tuition at University of Idaho being around $138 when he attended.

“A lot of my friends, of course they had to have money for books and room and board, but if they got a good job, could work in the summer and basically get their bachelor’s degree without going into debt,” Little said. “That is not what it’s like today.”

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Brad Little speaks to a group of High schoolers. | Logan Ramsey, EastIdahoNews.com

For Little, the goal of this program is to not only benefit the lives of the students who utilize Idaho LAUNCH, but also the state’s economy.

“Increasing in individual income is going to go along with educational attainment in training as we go forward,” Little said.

One of the students asked Little about how likely it would be that Idaho LAUNCH continues into the future. He responded he was concerned about the program initially, because it only passed by one vote last year.

However, out of the 22,000 high school seniors in Idaho, Little said up to 14,000 students had expressed interest in it.

“And then I looked at where they were. They were in every legislative district in every community. Five hundred kids right here in Pocatello signed up,” Little said. “I think launch is going to make a difference.”

Little also spoke to the achievement of passing the, “largest ever investment in the state in school facilities.”

The governor signed two school facilities bills into law, creating a net $1.5 billion over the next ten years to fund maintenance and construction on school buildings.

RELATED | Pocatello/Chubbuck school trustees to patrons: Vote no on their $33 million bond ask

Little told the students not only will this benefit their education, but it also decreases their parent’s property taxes.

The legislature passing this facilities funding provided the last funding required to make the reconstruction of Highland High School possible. Because of this, the district is now asking voters to vote no on its $33 million bond proposal.

Another student asked about the rebuild of Highland’s D-wing, and if they could expect to have it replaced how it was before or if it would be improved upon.

Little said he didn’t want to tell the school board how to build a school, but that he knew the building would be updated to meet existing fire safety codes. He also said the more involved the community was in the process, the better it would end up.

“I think the more the administration and the construction (make) it conducive to the community atmosphere, the better.”

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Brad Little sits with the students for a picture. | Logan Ramsey, EastIdahoNews.com

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