Idaho School Chief Wants More Money For Teacher Bonus Plan

Sep 6, 2012

Idaho’s School Superintendent wants the state to spend 5.1 percent more on education next year. Tom Luna released his proposed budget Thursday for fiscal year 2014. In January he’ll ask lawmakers to approve it.

The biggest boost Luna is asking for is more than $23.5 million for teacher salary apportionment. That includes $14.8 million more for base salaries. That offsets cuts made to teacher pay in recent years. His request also includes more than 22.6 million additional dollars for pay for performance bonuses required by the state’s Student’s Come First laws.

“Not only are we fully funding the leadership and hard to fill bonuses for teachers but we’re also adding classified staff at the school level. And then also we add district administration to the student achievement bonuses,” Luna says. “So the total amount is $61 million that will now be going toward pay for performance.”

Meanwhile next fall a third of Idaho high school students are set to get laptops under Students Come First. Luna's budget plan calls for an increase of more than $8.4 million to cover that equipment.

Luna says his budget request will be entirely different if voters repeal the education laws in November. He also warns that repealing them would mean drastic changes to the current fiscal year’s budget.

Following several years of cuts Idaho lawmakers increased state education spending by nearly 5 percent this year. However, coupled with federal cuts the total budget remained flat. Next year will see a smaller cut to federal money. With that factored in, Luna’s budget actually represents a 4.7 percent increase in total education spending next year.