Teachers

Beth Pendergrass / Twin Falls School District

This week in Boston, the National Education Association is holding its annual meeting to debate new school policies. A group from Idaho is among the 8,000 educators there. 

The Idaho legislature has been looking at changing the public school funding formula. Part of the challenge is balancing the redistribution of dollars between urban schools and the rural schools that make up the majority of the state.

AP Photo

Speaking at an Associated Press legislative preview Friday, Idaho Governor Butch Otter hinted at some of his priorities for the 2017 session.

Otter traditionally unveils his budget and policy plans in his State of the State speech, which he gives on the first day of the session, which is Monday. But he did give a sneak peek Friday morning when he said his main focus will be education.

He’ll ask lawmakers for $58 million for the teacher pay raise program known as the Career Ladder. The five-year plan is in its third year and Otter says the goals are straightforward.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

When they convene next week, lawmakers in the Idaho Legislature plan to take a closer look at teacher evaluations.

For years, Idaho has required an annual evaluation to use as a tool for educators to improve their performance. In 2015, lawmakers decided to tie those evaluations to teacher raises. Called the Career Ladder, this initiative spends $250 million over five years to boost teacher pay. But to climb that ladder - teachers must meet certain performance benchmarks in order to earn a raise.

Rookie teachers in Idaho will receive pay raises starting July 1 under a $125 million proposal headed to the governor's desk for his signature.

The Idaho Senate unanimously approved the measure Thursday, where senators offered only praise that the 30-page bill had survived both chambers after seeing prior proposals flounder this legislative session.

bullying
Diego Grez / Wikimedia

A bipartisan bill in the Idaho Legislature would train teachers to deal with bullying and require them to intervene when they see it happen.

Boise Democratic Rep. Ilana Rubel said it’s not an issue of niceness. She said it’s an educational issue -- because bullying makes kids less engaged with school.

“And as news spread of this bill, I was contacted by hundreds of parents across the state who felt desperately that we needed to act in this regard,” Rubel said.
 

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The starting salary for Idaho teachers is lower than in Washington, Oregon, and three other surrounding states. Superintendents in Idaho border towns say that has left them with shortages.

The salary for a first-year teacher in Idaho is around $31,000. It doesn’t help that St. Maries, a school district in north Idaho, is only 30 miles from Washington, where the teacher starting salary is 15 percent higher and teachers move up the pay scale much faster.

The State Board of Education has endorsed legislation that would set Idaho teacher pay based on performance standards and experience.

Board member Richard Westerberg says the state needs higher teacher salaries, and the plan would allow district to reward their best teachers.

Beginning teachers would see salaries increase from about $31,000 a year to about $40,000 a year over the next five years, and top-level teachers would see their base salaries rise from $47,000 to $58,000.

Butch Otter
State of Idaho

Gov. Butch Otter says his 2015-16 budget blueprint has money set aside to launch a career ladder program to boost teacher pay.

“It’s within our parameters,” Otter said in a Wednesday interview with Idaho Education News. “I have every confidence that we will get the first year.”

Tom Luna
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna trimmed his request for pay hikes for Idaho's public school teachers, but still wants to boost salaries.

Luna spoke to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee Thursday.

Last year, his original proposal included $42 million for boosting teacher pay in fiscal year 2015.

After Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter this month recommended no additional state funding to boost salaries, however, Luna now hopes his latest plan is a compromise with lawmaker appeal.

It foresees $23 million going to lifting teacher pay.

KIDK via Facebook

The former Pocatello High School girls' basketball coach who was fired after a photograph appeared on a social networking website showing a male coach touching her chest is challenging her dismissal.

Last month, School District 25 officials fired Laraine Cook and are now seeking to have her teaching certificate revoked by the state Board of Education.

Desks, Classroom
DerekBruff / Flickr Creative Commons

A school district in southwestern Idaho that is reeling from budget problems has lost 20 percent of its teachers in the last few months.

Nampa School District Superintendent Pete Koehler said during a board meeting Tuesday that 151 teachers have left since the end of the school year — far more than the usual 5 percent annual turnover rate.

The district has suffered a series of financial blows starting last year, when officials discovered almost $3 million in one-time budget money had been counted twice.

Sharpie, Permanent Marker
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The south Idaho teacher who made national headlines for allowing students to draw on each other’s faces with permanent markers, will keep her job.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The Nampa School Board meets Tuesday to discuss the next steps in overcoming a $5.1 million budget deficit.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The Nampa School District’s financial hole keeps getting deeper. The most recent figure for the budget deficit in Idaho’s third largest district was a little more than $5 million. But at a school board meeting Tuesday night district officials revealed they also owe another $1.2 million in building bonds. The money had been used for general operations instead of being paid back on time. 

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

More teachers are leaving Idaho than people in other professions. That’s according to a report released earlier this month by the Idaho Department of Labor.

Of people who left Idaho between 2008 and 2011, 3 percent where K-12 teachers and 4 percent were college or university instructors. Both are among the top five groups of professionals leaving the state, with K-12 teachers at number four and college instructors number three.

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