BOISE- A bill backed by Idaho's top schools chief to develop a new rural schools network has narrowly survived the House floor.

House members debated at length Tuesday on a proposal to form a three-year pilot project in which rural schools would collaborate and share resources. The pilot project would be based in northern Idaho and cost $300,000 annually.

However, Republican Rep. Wendy Horman - who oversees writing the state's education budget - says the bill will create an additional layer of bureaucracy.

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Republican Rep. Paul Amador, the bill's sponsor, countered the legislation will help schools run more efficiently.

HB 223 passed the House 37-33. It must now pass the Senate.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra attempted to pass a similar proposal last year, but the bill died in the Senate.