Legislative budget writers endorsed significant across-the-board educator pay raises for certified educators and educational support professionals earlier this week, clearing a major hurdle for ultimate approval by lawmakers.
The proposed boost in educator salaries is a central pillar Gov. Brad Little’s legislative agenda for the 2023 session of the Idaho Legislature and was featured in his State of the State Address in January, where he made attracting and retaining educators a high priority.
The legislation awaits consideration by the full House of Representatives and Senate.
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Salaries for certified educators and classified staff are handled through two separate pieces of legislation, which are among seven different appropriations bills that fund K-12 public education.
The influence of IEA members was central to the governor’s formulation of his education budget proposals and has been essential voice of support as they work their way through the legislative process.
“These proposed budgets show all educators — both certified teachers and classified educators — the respect they deserve by providing the competitive, fair compensation Idahoans want them to have,” said IEA President Layne McInelly. “They are a bold and important step toward reversing Idaho’s decades of chronical underfunding of public education and begin to address many of the challenges facing our public schools, including the ongoing educator vacancy crisis crippling school districts across the state.”
The legislation, endorsed by the powerful Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee or JFAC, provides funding to local school district and includes:
- Nearly $145 million in new money for certified educator pay raises which increase starting teacher pay to $47,477 per year
- The bill also provides funds for an additional $6,359 per teacher, across the board, in each cell of the state’s teacher salary schedule.
- $97.4 million for salaries for classified employees, such as bus drivers, custodians and classroom paraprofessionals. The state money is designed to replace local dollars schools use to beef up pay for hard-to-fill classified jobs.
Gov. Little says the proposed new starting teacher pay level puts Idaho among the top 10 national for the category.
“We’re making the teaching profession in Idaho more competitive and rewarding, which keeps great teachers in the classroom to help our students achieve,” Little said in a Tuesday press release celebrating JFAC’s action.
Idahoans overwhelmingly support better pay for educator. An IEA poll conducted just prior to the start of the legislative session showed 90% of Idaho voters said the Legislature should increase teacher pay to attract and retain the best possible teachers.
“IEA members are especially excited about funding included in this budget to pay our critical education support professionals and classified school district employees a living wage,” McInelly said. “These esteemed and essential school employees — office assistants, nurses, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, classroom paraprofessionals and others — are critical supports for students and certified educators alike. Without them, schools, students and educators suffer, and they deserve compensation that reflects their importance.”