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Are investments into Idaho education improving school staff morale?

KTVB checked in with the superintendent for Idaho's largest school district on staff pay, morale, and investments into education.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — The average base salary for a public-school teacher in Idaho sits at about $53,100. Those are the latest numbers from the 2021-2022 school year, according to data from the Idaho State Department of Education. Since the 2016-2017 school year, Idaho teachers have seen the average base salary increase by about $7,000.

With increased attention on education funding and teacher pay, the Idaho Legislature passed a $410 million measure during the special legislative session in September. That money is aimed at increasing investments into education and educators. The hope is that better pay and benefits will keep Idaho teachers in Idaho.

At a more local level, the West Ada School District increased their base pay rate to $15 per hour for all current, full-time classified employees, The changes went into effect for the current, 2022-2023 school year. 

Additionally, West Ada employees that are eligible to moving up the district salary schedule will receive increases from 7% to 20% for the next year.

So, is increasing wages helping the situation? Are administrators hearing the same issues as before, or was simply upping pay the answer to years of the same question: how does Idaho keep their teachers? 

KTVB spoke with the superintendent of Idaho’s largest school district, West Ada Superintendent Dr. Derek Bubb.

“It does feel different and I think teacher pay is a big part of that. I think being able to, as much as we go through salaries and the cost of living here in Idaho, we know that that has gone up. It's really important to be able to pay some of the most important people in our schools an appropriate salary," Dr. Bubb said. "We've also invested in our classified staff. That was a big goal of ours this year. We recognized that classified staff salaries, classified staff in general, are the people that make the magic happen within our schools. There are huge support for no matter what that is from custodial to paraprofessionals there. There's such a support for our teachers. There's such support for our administration."

Dr. Bubb said recent investments into education sends a strong message to Idaho schools and staffs. The message is helping school staff morale, according to Dr. Bubb.

“The last two years obviously were rough on education. It was rough for teachers, and teachers didn't get into education to deal with all of these outside factors. Teachers got an education when they're in the classroom. They have their kids there and they're making a difference in the lives of kids," Dr. Bubb said. "Now, they're in their sweet spot. That's what they love to do. There's a lot of noise out there for the last two years and I think right now as we walk on campuses, as I talk to teachers, it's a different feeling. People are few people feel positive. People feel like, hey, I can get back to and I hate the word, but I can get back to normal, if you will."

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