Otter signs K-12 budgets

While the 2015 Legislature was wrapping up its business late last week, Gov. Butch Otter signed the seven pieces of the K-12 budget into law.

Gov. Butch Otter

Otter signed the budgets Friday.

The budgets mirror the spending request Otter made 13 weeks ago — at the start of the 2015 legislative session that adjourned early Saturday morning. Spending for K-12 will increase by more than $101 million — a 7.4 percent increase that will push the general fund budget for K-12 to $1.48 billion.

The spending details differ a bit, but mirror the spending priorities that emerged over the course of the 2015 session:

  • The budget will fully fund the first year of the career ladder teacher salary law, with $33.5 million. Starting teacher pay will increase from $31,750 to $32,700, and the career ladder will also boost pay for veteran teachers.
  • Another $16.1 million will go into the second year of a leadership premium program designed to reward teachers who assume mentoring roles or take on hard-to-fill teaching positions.
  • Teacher professional development receives $13.2 million.
  • Administrators and classified staff receive a 3 percent pay raise.
  • The budget earmarks $6 million to pay for advanced college courses that students complete while still in high school.
  • An ongoing $5 million line item is dedicated to classroom technology.
  • The budget pits $2.1 million into school Wi-Fi.
  • The state slashes funding for the troubled Schoolnet statewide instructional management system, providing $985,000 in one-time funding to support schools that use Schoolnet. The state will provide $2.6 million to districts that purchase their own systems.

All seven public schools budgets passed the Senate on April 1 on identical 35-0 votes. A week ago, they passed the House with limited opposition. (Click on our Bill Tracker to see how your legislator voted on the budgets.)

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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