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and accepting hard-to-fill positions was the hallmark of Proposition 2, one of the Students Come First laws voters repealed in November.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.