Budget writers set $1.3B schools spending plan

Budget writers set $1.3B schools spending plan

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by Jamie Grey and Associated Press

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KTVB.COM

Posted on March 4, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 22 at 7:09 PM

BOISE -- Teachers stand to see their pay rise under a plan approved by legislative budget writers, a majority of whom favored undoing austerity measures that went into effect two years ago.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee passed a $1.3 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2014 on Monday. It still must win the approval of the full Legislature.

Idaho has long paid teachers based on a matrix that combines years of service and their level of education. Starting in fiscal year 2011, however, the grid was frozen, to save money. With the JFAC approved budget, teachers would start getting the experience pay rate matching their actual experience. Also, the minimum teacher salary is bumped from $30,500 to $31,000.

"We've increased minimum teacher pay, we've made the grid whole. That creates the perfect opportunity now to look at that grid and how we can make it better and more compatible with the education of the 21st century," Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said.

The measure also dedicates about $13 million for local districts, to reward employees who do a good job improving student achievement. Luna says districts will submit copies of reports on how they used differential pay and the department will evaluate the plans to identify best practices moving forward.For high schoolers, the budget includes continuing to pay for dual credit enrollment and will pay for sophomores to take the PSAT as a marker for student preparedness for college entrance exams and professions after school.

Classroom technology is funded at $13.4 million and will go toward making wireless learning environments in every high school and competitive grants for schools to pilot new tech ideas.

"We can identify some pilot projects in Idaho and look at the success of those and then use those to help people across Idaho understand the value of proper implementation of technology. And then there will be more willingness to move at a faster pace," Luna said.

 

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