Board of Ed approves teacher pay recommendation

The State Board of Education unanimously backed a plan Thursday designed to increase state funding for teacher pay.

For the second time, the board recommended that Gov. Butch Otter and legislators implement a career ladder designed to bring minimum teacher salaries to $40,000 in five years.

State law now sets the minimum teacher salary at $31,750.

Once implemented in the 2019-20 school year, the state would pay districts a minimum of $40,000 for salaries; positions on the highest rung of the ladder would receive $54,000 to $58,000.

Rod Lewis
Rod Lewis

Districts would still negotiate salaries locally – and would be free to pay above the state appropriation. But the minimum $40,000 level would be set in law.

“We are proposing a meaningful change in the required minimum salary districts must pay,” board member Rod Lewis said.

The career ladder will be intertwined with the tiered licensure certification system that the board approved last month.

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The board needed to rework the career ladder to reflect changes made to tiered licensure. Those changes include pushing nearly all accountability and performance measures from tiered licensure over to the career ladder.

For instance, in order for a teacher to be paid at the master compensation level – the third and highest rung on the ladder – an educator would need to:

  • Have at least 60 percent of his or her students meet student achievement targets.
  • Earn at least six “distinguished” components on the state’s teacher evaluation system.
  • Have no “unsatisfactory” or “basic” marks on the teacher’s evaluation.

In order to be paid at the professional compensation rung, a teacher would need to:

  • Earn a score of “proficient” or higher on 18 or more components of the teacher evaluation.
  • Receive no more than four components marked as “basic,” and none ranked as “unsatisfactory.”
  • Demonstrate that a majority of students have met student achievement targets.

The new pay plan would also reward teachers for continuing their education. The state will pay districts $2,000 more per year for each teacher with a bachelor’s degree who earns 24 more additional education credits. For teachers holding a master’s degree, that jumps to $3,500 annually. For teachers with a doctorate, that jumps to $6,000 per teacher per year.

Board member Bill Goesling initially appeared reluctant to vote for the pay plan, saying he observed confusion and uncertainty among school district leaders he met with in recent days. He suggested board members delay a vote until additional public hearings could be staged, saying he didn’t want the process to mirror Propositions 1, 2 and 3, which were approved by the 2011 Legislature and overturned by voters in 2012.

Richard Westerberg
Richard Westerberg

Other board members pointed to the three public hearings they staged in conjunction with the tiered licensure proposal – as well as the subcommittee meetings that took place this summer.

“This is a product of almost two years of work by a group of education stakeholders,” board member Richard Westerberg said. “The process used to build the proposal was as open and transparent as any I’ve seen in the state of Idaho.”

In the end, the recommendation passed unanimously.

In order for the pay plan to be implemented, it would need to be introduced in the form of a bill during the legislative session, clear both the House and Senate and avoid Otter’s veto stamp.

Text of the proposed legislation is available online.