State Board makes pitch for $34 million

Members of the Idaho State Board of Education on Thursday afternoon said the $34 million set aside for an education reform task force should be sent back to school districts.

Board members voted unanimously to notify the task force, lawmakers and Gov. Butch Otter they recommend giving districts that money for compensation, based on location and performance, and professional development.

Board member Rod Lewis called for allowing districts to spend up to 40 percent of the money they receive on “targeted professional development.”

Rod Lewis

Rod Lewis

A pay-for-performance plan based on teachers’ performance, leadership and accepting hard-to-fill positions was the hallmark of Proposition 2, one of the Students Come First laws voters repealed in November.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, the architect of Students Come First, backed the plan, and said there is a danger in not making a recommendation.

“The downside is there is always the possibility the money could be used elsewhere, outside of K-12 education,” Luna said during the teleconference meeting.

The state board’s vote is only a recommendation, and it came forward about nine hours after Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, and Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, gave their recommendations for spending the $34 million within education.

Richard Westerberg, the chairman of Otter’s education reform task force, is a member of the State Board, but he did not attend Thursday’s teleconference.

The task force is not scheduled to reconvene again until March 15.

  • Julie Randolph

    It would be great if teachers could have their paychecks back so our salaries would no longer be going into the negative. We make low amounts and then they took away even more. It’s hard to justify this career when when we are not valued for the hard work and success we have obtained.

    Classroom money would be great as well. There are several items I would love to have for my classroom but money is an issue. All our texts are atleast 10 years old if not much more. I have one functioning student computer in my class and would love to have more. I’d love to see texts being replaced with computers and ebooks. Updating would be simple and devices would take up less space. My teacher computer is old and outdated. Replacement would be ideal. I feel our district as a whole is very conservative with our funds but at some point you just need to spend money in order to stay up with the technology that is expected in the classroom. We need to be able to perform our jobs with the given expectations but can’t do it with no text funding, no classroom funds or for less money than we ate making. Teachers do a great job.

    If there is a bad teacher in your district, find out why and make changes.

    I feel our district is a strong district with highly motivated people. But how long can you realistically expect good teachers to stay in this career when we feel we are getting slighted at every angle?

    I pray the education committee spends time in the classroom and really gets to know what our students and teachers need in order to succeed. Then, choose wisely how to spend the education money. Ask me, I have few ideas for that budget. Get teachers involved. Get parents involved. Get administrators involved. This is our future, our state. Let’s make it great….together!

  • Wendy Betty

    Julie made some terrific points and I agree with everything she said. With the adoption of the Common Core Standards I agree that professional development is an area that needs to be addressed but, we also need to have the materials to be able to teach these standards. This includes the technology and text books. I am in a similar position of having textbooks printed as long ago as 1987, and computers that are terribly outdated.
    One area that I feel has not been addressed is the inequality of materials between school districts within Idaho. As a student or teacher moves from district to district, the playing field is not equal.
    If the pay for performance issue is going to be readdressed, it needs to be overhauled entirely. Talk to the teachers who got it, they are not even happy with how it was distributed. I have no problem with my pay being based on my performance, but I think it is extremely difficult to measure a teachers performance fairly. There are a lot of uncontrollable factors that play a part in your students performance.
    Along with Julie I pray that the education committee WILL spend time in the classrooms, throughout Idaho and address the issues that need to be changed for our students to succeed.