With only one dissenting vote, the House Education Committee sent HB 504, to the floor with a recommendation of “do pass.” The legislation, sponsored by Rep.’s Lance Clow (R-Twin Falls) and Julie VanOrden (R-Pingree) would provide $850 per teacher to school districts with the expectation that local school boards would disburse the funds to deserving teachers. The legislation would limit the minimum payment a teacher could receive to $850 and the maximum payment could not exceed 25% of the teacher base salary, as determined by the legislature. Rep. Clow assured committee members that it is the intent of the legislature that not every teacher earn a leadership award. These payments would be for work “over and above” the assignments that teachers are contracted for.
Here is the testimony IEA President Penni Cyr presented to the committee regarding HB 504:
House Bill 504
Penni Cyr, Idaho Education Association
Testimony to House Education Association
Chairman DeMordaunt and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you on behalf of the members of the Idaho Education Association regarding HB 504.
I am Penni Cyr, a teacher of 28 years, serving as the President of the Idaho Education Association. Throughout my career in the classroom, I often sought out opportunities to work on building level or district level committees, so I could be part of making the education for our students better…
Just as I reflected on what I was doing in the classroom, I also began to reflect on our school and our district and how various things could improve education for every student, not just the students in my classroom. This is how I grew into leadership…how I grew into my chosen profession and began to understand how as a professional, I could also work with others to make a difference to our education community as a whole and to my profession.
I have personally watched as some of my colleagues chose other avenues to grow professionally. Some of them did so out of necessity, to increase their compensation by becoming an administrator or getting a doctorate and teaching in a higher education institute. But I, like many of my colleagues, chose to stay in the classroom to continue our professional growth and support our students and districts.
I served on many school and district level committees throughout my 28 years in Moscow.
But never once did I volunteer to serve on a committee because I expected to receive a bonus. However, I did expect to earn more compensation as I gained experience…more pay for doing my job, all of it. This is what the teachers I know do, and what they will continue to do; they believe in their students, they believe in themselves, they believe in their districts and communities and they do everything they can to make them better.
That is why the IEA has long supported the concept of career ladders. It is our hope that if crafted right, a career ladder will provide a way to help more teachers stay in the classroom, where their passion is, by giving them opportunities to earn compensation commensurate with their professional growth. To us, this is the benefit of a career ladder and the main reason why our organization supports the concept.
As you’ve heard since the beginning days of the session, the Governor’s Task Force, in their recommendations, suggested leadership awards be an additional piece of a plan to overhaul Idaho’s current teacher compensation system. Leadership bonuses are one way educators can be acknowledged and compensated for the work they are already doing. The IEA’s position, even before the beginning of this session, has been to support the concept of leadership awards, if combined with at least a 1% increase to the base salary for teachers.
We realize that policy decisions are made in the germane committees and funding decisions are made in JFAC. However, we would be remiss if we did not make our position very clear to you and other legislators, about this very critical issue.
Governor Otter stressed the importance of involving stakeholders in the process. We have always believed that it is possible to pursue effective teacher pay practices as long as one important factor is place. It is absolutely necessary to include those who will be affected by the plan, including many of our classified colleagues who are also leaders in their districts. As we build the Career Ladder system and continue to refine and improve the leadership premium practices that are being introduced in HB 504, we will continue to stress that those who have a stake in the final product be included in developing the final product.
Additionally, though the legislation before you expressly prohibits the leadership premiums from being a subject of bargaining, we hope every superintendent and school board member in the state will also reflect on the importance of process and invite teachers to help them build the plan for how the district will determine how many staff members will receive the awards, what leadership activities will be rewarded and what the amounts for each will be.
We are hopeful that this legislation, combined with at least a 1% increase on the base, will begin to provide increased salaries for teachers. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.