Branden Durst is a husband, parent, 3rd generation Boise Schools graduate, former state Senator, education policy expert and candidate for the Boise School board. As an independent thinking public servant who previously served as a state Senator and Representative in Idaho's 18th Legislative District, Branden is seeking to put his substantial expertise in public education to work as a trustee in the Boise School District.
Branden Durst was born and raised in Southeast Boise. He attended the Boise Schools through high school, where he became a third generation graduate of Boise High School in 1998.
In November 2006 Branden was elected to the Idaho House of Representatives, representing Legislative District 18 (South and Southeast Boise). He was re-elected two years later. In 2012, Branden was elected to the Idaho Senate as an ardent opponent to the so-called Luna Laws.
Branden's time in the Idaho House of Representatives and Idaho Senate were marked by his unique ability to think of new ideas to challenges that plague public education. Branden's supporters and critics agree that his approach to policymaking is unique and thoughtful. Branden credits this to his professional and academic background in policy analysis and a desire to make the right decision, not necessarily the popular one.
In the 2010 legislative session, Branden demonstrated his knack for public education innovation as the co-author and co-sponsor of the Mastery Advancement Pilot Project (MAP). MAP was designed as a completely voluntary program to assist gifted students accelerate through course curriculum at their pace. The program was widely accepted and acclaimed as, "the most innovative education concept to hit the Statehouse since the late 1990s (Idaho Press Tribune Editorial, March 7, 2010)." MAP was passed with large, bipartisan margins in both the House and the Senate. The process Branden went through in the development of MAP is a perfect illustration of his commitment to bipartisanship and innovation.
The Boise School District was an applicant and participant in MAP and has seen considerable benefit from it. In 2013, while a member of the State Senate, the program was expanded statewide. MAP has resulted in thousands of dollars being awarded in post-secondary scholarships to Idaho students.
In addition to MAP, Branden personally wrote the funding formula for the Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA). IDLA has been instrumental in assisting students throughout Idaho, including in the Boise School District. The new funding formula has allowed IDLA to serve more students.
Branden was also the author and sponsor of the first-ever early childhood education bill to pass both chambers of the Idaho Legislature, which regrettably, was vetoed by Governor Otter. The bill, Parents As Teachers, was a step in the right direction to increase access to early childhood programs. As a legislator, Branden was very supportive of expanding early childhood education and fought for the pre-K program at Hawthorne Elementary.
For the past two decades, no other state legislator from Boise has had as much of an impact on public education policy as Branden. His record of fighting for Boise Schools and for students is clear.
Branden is married to his wife, Cheri and they have three children, Broden, Carter and Graciana.
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