IEA Hotline—February 28, 2020
A bill that would provide school districts with additional funding allocations of an estimated $223 million over five years, primarily focused on increasing pay for veteran educators, passed the House Education Committee in a unanimous vote Wednesday and then cleared the House floor by a 52-10 margin today. HB 523 heads over to the Senate side next week.
This legislation is a continuation of Gov. Little’s efforts to increase teacher compensation which resulted in a minimum salary for beginning teachers last year. It also is a direct result of the recommendations issued by the K-12 task force, which had significant representation and influence from the IEA.
The Advanced Professional Educator Pay bill would establish the third rung on the Career Ladder for educators who have eight years or more of experience and meet other criteria established in the legislation. Upon completion of the five-year phase-in, an allocation of $63,000 would be attached to the third rung, compared to the current top-level of $50,000. HB 523 would put more than $30 million into the Career Ladder salary allocation structure in 2020-21. Specific salaries would still be negotiated between the local education association and the district, but the bill includes minimum salaries for the professional and advanced professional rungs at various stages of the phase-in.
“Idaho has a teacher retention problem and this bill can be a step toward making our teacher salaries more competitive with surrounding states as well as helping our rural districts retain their experienced educators,” says IEA President Layne McInelly. “We have heard far too often in recent years about educators who are capped at the top of the state’s pay scale and have not seen a raise in several years.”
The legislation was presented to the committee by Greg Wilson, Senior Policy Advisor for Education under Gov. Little. “This bill represents a long-term commitment to educators across Idaho and a critical investment in outcomes for students,” he said in his introductory remarks.
There are eligibility and accountability metrics built into the legislation that include student growth measures, leadership roles, recommendations from the district, and highest-level marks in domains 2 and 3 of the Charlotte Danielson evaluation framework.
“It is incumbent upon all education stakeholders to collaborate on efforts to ensure that the thresholds are achievable for as many of our veteran educators as possible,” says McInelly. “Robust professional development, administrator aptitude and accountability, and flexibility on measuring growth and leadership are essential. In short, we must all work together with fidelity in the process, as well as with the intent of the legislation, which is to increase veteran teacher pay and improve educator retention rates.”
Troublesome Election Limitation Bill Moves Forward
A bill that could undo much of the positive momentum of the Career Ladder legislation is making its way through the House. HB 393, sponsored by Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls and Sen. Lori Den Hartog, R-Meridian, would limit the ability of school districts to run elections for essential levies and bonds.
The legislation would require school districts to run their levy and bond issues in May or November, eliminating the important March and August election windows. All education stakeholder groups oppose this bill, in particular citing the timing of the March window, which corresponds best with the fiscal needs and scheduling of districts. Officials from several school districts testified that one failed levy would have disastrous consequences and having multiple election windows enhances their ability to pass critical levies and bonds.
The vast majority of Idaho school districts rely on “supplemental” levies for essential programs, with the current tab for local taxpayers totaling more than $200 million. Further complicating matters is Idaho’s onerous requirement that levies and bonds pass by a two-thirds supermajority rather than a simple majority.
“Idaho consistently ranks at or near the bottom in per-pupil funding,” notes IEA President Layne McInelly. “At a crucial time when we are poised to finally invest in veteran teacher pay, HB 393 would hamstring local districts’ ability to pass levies and bonds to support students and educators in ways the state has chosen not to.”
HB 393 has already passed the House floor and is expected to land in the Senate State Affairs Committee early next week. Contact committee members today and tell them to vote NO on HB 393 because it could drastically limit the ability of our districts to adequately serve their students.
JFAC to Begin Writing Public School Budget Next Week
The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) is scheduled to begin the budget-writing process for public education Tuesday morning. The committee uses budget recommendations from the Governor and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction as a guide but has considerable discretion to set the official budget based on their own analysis and preferences. Live audio streaming of the meeting is available here. JFAC hearings typically start at 8:00 a.m. MT.
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