Task force members discuss career ladder

Members of the state’s education reform task force are brainstorming a career ladder program to raise salaries for beginning teachers and veteran teachers alike.

The plan would increase the starting teacher salary to $40,000, a 29 percent increase from current $31,000.

Teachers at the top of the salary grid would be in line for a similar 29 percent increase — from $46,537 to $60,000.

Teachers also would be eligible for “leadership awards” that would further boost pay.

The cost of the plan: $35 million to $43 million a year for the first five years. This translates to about 3 percent of the current general fund budget for K-12.

The task force’s fiscal stability subcommittee drew up the proposal, and task force members discussed it during a meeting and conference call Friday.

A written presentation on the plan — posted online at the State Board of Education’s website — makes a detailed sales pitch for a career ladder. Among the talking points:

  • In most districts, teachers would be able to earn higher salaries than they can earn now.
  • Idaho teacher pay would be more in line with private sector jobs, and teaching jobs in other states.
  • Since advancement would be based on evaluations, a career ladder would create “a teacher compensation system with greater accountability and emphasis on effectiveness.”
  • The leadership awards would allow districts to fund “robust, effective and meaningful teacher mentoring programs.”

It’s unclear where the proposal will go from here. Subcommittee chairman Rob Winslow, executive director of the Idaho Association of School Administrators, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Nor could Linda Clark — a subcommittee member and superintendent of the Meridian School District.

But the last word doesn’t belong to the subcommittee — nor to the entire 31-member task force, which is scheduled to reconvene Aug. 23. The task force hopes to pass on several proposals to Gov. Butch Otter, in advance of the 2014 legislative session.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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