Education chairs back statewide career ladder rollout

The chairmen of the Legislature’s education committees said Friday that they favor a statewide approach to phasing in the career ladder teacher pay proposal.

Mortimer
Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls

Senate Education Committee Chairman Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, and House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, said lawmakers may unveil career ladder legislation within the next couple of weeks.

The career ladder is designed to boost beginning teachers’ pay to $40,000 over five years and provide higher compensation based on teachers’ ability to meet performance standards. The career ladder would replace the existing salary reimbursement table. However, aside from minimum teacher salaries, educator pay would still be negotiated and set at the school district level.

Gov. Butch Otter has called for spending $31.9 million to begin phasing in the career ladder in 2015-16. During her budget presentation Thursday, Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra left her recommendation ambiguous. She called for spending $25 million on the proposal, and then told lawmakers to stay tuned for details. She also has called for a pilot program involving nine school districts and one charter school.

DeMordaunt New
Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle

DeMordaunt and Mortimer said they don’t support a pilot program, since it affect teachers only in certain districts.

“We have an opportunity to acknowledge all of our teachers across the state through the career ladder, and I think it behooves us to do so,” DeMordaunt said.

Mortimer repeated the position he outlined Thursday to Idaho Education News, saying that in order to make the pay proposal fair it should benefit all teachers equally.

Meanwhile, Mortimer applauded Ybarra for allowing the education committees to take the lead on developing the career ladder.

“I think it was a great political move (on Ybarra’s part),” Mortimer said.

The chairmen also said they expect to take up a rule related to the tiered licensure certification proposal in tandem with the career ladder discussions.

State Board of Education member Rod Lewis and members of the subcommittees charged with implementing recommendations from Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education said the career ladder and tiered licensure proposal should be enacted jointly and support each other.

“I think we have a great blueprint out there,” DeMordaunt said. “Money in and of itself is not the answer, but how we invest the money (is).”

Mortimer and DeMordaunt outlined their positions during a joint news conference Friday, as legislative budget-writers wrapped up a series of education budget presentations.

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