Parent Advisory Council members chosen for Empowering Parents grant program

Thursday May 25, 2023

Boise, Idaho – Governor Brad Little, Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder, and House Speaker Mike Moyle announced the members of the new Parent Advisory Council today.

The purpose of the Parent Advisory Council is to advise the State Board of Education on ways to “implement, administer, and improve” the Empowering Parents grant program. The council was established in Idaho Code 33-1032. It will include seven members – three members appointed by the Governor, two members appointed by the Senate Pro Tem, and two members appointed by the Speaker of the House. The council includes regional representation from across the state.

The Empowering Parents grants help families cover expenses such as computers and software, instructional materials, and tutoring. Public, private, and homeschool families are eligible. To date, tens of thousands of students have benefited from the grants.

The Governor’s appointees are:

  • Laura Milton of Idaho Falls
  • Barbara Schriber of Sandpoint
  • Jason Sevy of Marsing

The Senate Pro Tem’s appointees are:

  • Holly Cook of Boise
  • Courtney Abenroth of Rupert

The Speaker’s appointees are:

  • Joni Shepherd of Riggins
  • Amy Henry of Nampa

“Recognizing the parents’ role as the primary decision makers in their children’s education, we created the Empowering Parents grant program to help families take charge of learning tools outside the classroom. I appreciate my appointees for filling an important role on the Parent Advisory Council, which will advise the State Board of Education on ways to strengthen the Empowering Parents grant program,” Governor Little said.

“Empowering Parents has been an outstanding program that has helped both parents and students in Idaho. Holly and Courtney are both exceptional parents and Idahoans, and I thank them for stepping up with their depth of experience and knowledge in our education system,” Pro Tem Winder said.

“The Parent Advisory Council is a key part of the Empowering Parents program, something that has already benefited tens of thousands Idaho families and students. This panel will help ensure the continued success of the program and connection with families in Idaho,” Speaker Moyle said.

Superintendent Debbie Critchfield will serve as the nonvoting chair of the Parent Advisory Council.

“Input from parents is essential and this is one more way we can tap into parents to help shape Idaho education,” Superintendent Critchfield said. “I’m excited to work with the council and hear directly from parents on how we can take advantage of all that Empowering Parents offers our state.”

Any parent living in Idaho who has a school-aged child (K-12) in Idaho could apply for membership on the council. Preference was given to parents who have applied for Empowering Parent program funds or who, for the initial appointment of the panel, have indicated their intent to apply for program funds, according to Idaho law.

The council’s first meeting will take place June 1. Meeting information will be available at

Superintendent Critchfield and the council members will spend the summer traveling the state to meet with and hear from Idaho families about the Empowering Parents grant program. Then, the council will work up a report with their recommendations for the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education will hear the report in the fall.

Additional details on the council are available at

Governor Little also noted Idaho families already benefit from abundant school choice options, and the Empowering Parents grants fit into that. Specifically, Governor Little pointed out that:

  • Idaho is third in the nation for education freedom – measures that include spending, school choice, transparency, and regulations
  • With nine different school types available to Idaho families – including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, homeschooling, and others – there are hundreds of schooling options available to Idaho families
  • Idaho strengthened its role this session as one of only a handful of states with the fewest restrictions on allowing parents to send their child to any public school they wish
  • Idaho is a top 10 state for the number of students enrolled in public charter schools
  • Idaho led the country in standing up the Empowering Parents grant program to provide access to approved educational resources outside the classroom. Public, private, and homeschool families are all eligible to receive grants.

“The Empowering Parents grants are effective, popular, and worthy of continued investment, and with the help of the Parent Advisory Council, we will continue to strengthen the program,” Governor Little said.

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