By Tom Luna
Idaho State Superintendent of Public Instruction
March brought great news about our public schools budget. The Joint-Finance Appropriations Committee (JFAC), the Legislature's budget-setting committee, and the Senate have now approved the FY 2013 public schools budget I put forward this year. As a result, in the coming year, Idaho will see a 4.6% general fund budget increase.
This includes increases in the minimum teacher salary, funding for movement on the salary grid and nearly $40 million to fund pay-for-performance bonuses for educators next year. The average Idaho teacher will see a 5.8% increase in overall compensation next year, or about a $2,000 increase.
In last month's EdSource, I detailed my FY 2013 budget request for public schools. See the details of that budget request here: http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/edsource/2012/feb/Budget Comments.htm. This month, that budget has passed the most important hurdle to final approval–approval by JFAC. I am confident it will soon be approved and ready for the next school year.
I'm excited about this budget. Though our funding has yet to reach pre-recession levels, the budget increases we've seen this year as the economy slowly recovers are a welcome reprieve from the last couple of years of challenges we have faced. With our carefully crafted budget, we are able to do a lot with that additional money.
The budget fully funds our educational reforms–providing classroom technology, one-to-one laptops for teachers and students and associated professional development; increasing teacher compensation; and increasing learning opportunities for our students.
Here are some highlights:
5.8% increase in teacher compensation. On average, a teacher's pay will increase next year by $2,000 because of the following changes:
I am proud of the budget for the upcoming school year and pleased that we will be able to reward our teachers, increase the average teacher's compensation, open new doors of opportunity for our students through digital learning and dual credit opportunities, and modernize our classrooms with 21st Century tools to help our students stay competitive in a fast-paced global marketplace. And I am confident that this budget's passage will take us one step closer to making our good educational system great.