Otter signs final K-12 budgets

The seven-piece, $1.37 billion K-12 budget for 2014-15 is now on the books.

Gov. Butch Otter signed the four remaining pieces of the K-12 budget Friday — including the biggest component, a teacher salary bill.

At a general fund sum of $755.1 million, House Bill 638 includes a 1 percent pay raise for teachers and increases the minimum teacher salary from $31,000 to $31,750. Those items cost a combined $13.9 million. The budget also includes $15.8 million for teacher leadership premiums — a bonus system that represents a small step in creating a teacher salary ladder.

The remaining three K-12 budgets signed Friday include:

  • House Bill 641, a public and charter school facilities budget, that includes $7.2 million from tax coffers. The $36 million facilities package is bolstered by lottery proceeds.
  • House Bill 642, an $8.3 million budget for deaf and blind programs.
  • House Bill 643, a $16.8 million catchall budget for “central services.” This budget includes $4.5 million for schools to purchase instructional management systems to provide teachers with up-to-date student performance data; $2.7 million for teacher professional development to support Idaho Core Standards; and $2.25 million for high school WiFi systems.

Otter had signed the other three K-12 budgets Wednesday.

In other education-related bill signings Friday, Otter gave his blessing to House Bill 589, a school safety bill. Passed by both the House and Senate on the final day of the session, the bill will allow school districts to tap into cigarette tax revenues to craft school safety plans or make safety upgrades, such as hiring school resource officers or installing new security equipment.

Otter also signed Senate Bill 1232, which will shield bus drivers from liability if they come to the aid of a passenger in danger.

Otter has until next week to finish signing bills, and a couple of education bills are still in the hopper. The list includes a bill to create a citizens’ committee to review questions on the new Common Core-aligned assessment; a bill laying out the ground rules for districts to install their own, state-funded WiFi systems; and a bill that would reshape the way lottery proceeds are distributed to school programs.

Otter has not vetoed any legislation this year.

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