Superintendent Luna's Message 5.4% Increase Requested for Idaho Public Schools Next Year

Hello Teachers,

A couple of months ago, we wrote about the Task Force for Improving Education’s final recommendations for reaching the State Board of Education’s goal that 60 percent of Idaho citizens attain a postsecondary degree or certificate by 2020. They included recommendations such as implementation of the Idaho Core Standards, a shift to a mastery based system of learning, job-embedded professional learning, high speed bandwidth infrastructure and technology devices, restoration of operational funding, a career ladder, tiered licensure, and more.

Earlier this month, I released my fiscal year 2015 budget request, which constitutes the funding for the 2014-2015 school year. State agencies are required to submit budget proposals for the upcoming fiscal year to the Governor and Legislature for consideration before the legislative session. In January, the Governor will release his budget request as part of his State of the State address. The Legislature will then set budgets in March.

This year, I requested a 5.4% increase in state funding for Idaho’s public schools next school year. This increase covers the first year of implementation of the Task Force recommendations. Here are the highlights of this budget:

Teacher Pay
The budget proposes $42.5 million in new funding to implement the first year of a new career ladder compensation model for Idaho’s teachers. The Task Force developed this career ladder, which combines competitive salaries for teachers with incentives, rewards and accountability.

The system will be tied to a revised system of state licensure. A technical advisory committee of education stakeholders has been formed to continue to work on the details of implementation of the tiered licensure in Idaho. You can learn more about this work in Christina Linder’s article in this edition of EdSource.

Once the career ladder is fully implemented over the next six years, a beginning teacher in Idaho will make $40,000 a year and can continue to earn salary increases based on experience, performance and other factors. After just the first year of implementation, a beginning teacher will make at least $33,000 a year.

Professional Development
The budget proposes $12.2 million in continued funding for professional development for Idaho’s teachers. This line item continues funding spent at the state level to provide professional development on the Idaho Core Standards this school year and also continues to provide an estimated $8 million to local school districts to buy professional development days for teachers. This helps fulfill the Task Force recommendation for Ongoing Job-Embedded Professional Learning. The budget also proposes $300,000 in continued funding for administrative evaluations training.

Operational Funding
The budget proposes $16.5 million to restore the first year of operational funding, or discretionary funding, for local school districts. This begins the Task Force recommendation to restore operational funding that was reduced from school district budgets during the recession. Districts use this funding to pay for utilities, health care and other costs at the district level.

Technology
The budget proposes $13.4 million in continued funding for classroom technology. Of this funding, more than $8 million is distributed directly to local school districts to spend on integrating technology in the classroom, and $2.25 million is spent at the state level to provide a wireless infrastructure as well as support and maintenance for that infrastructure in every public high school. The remaining $3 million has been set aside for technology pilot projects in Idaho’s public schools.

Advanced Opportunities
The budget proposes $5 million in additional funding to expand dual credit, Advanced Placement and other advanced opportunities for high school students. This will build upon the current Dual Credit for Early Completers Program, 8-in-6 and other statewide programs to fulfill the Task Force recommendation for Advanced Opportunities.

To learn more about the Fiscal Year 2014 budget request, please visit http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/communication.htm.