State Board will take up teacher pay in December

After changing its tiered licensure certification proposal, the State Board of Education will wait until December to address a related plan to increase teacher pay.

Nov. 13 Tiered Licensure
Board members Emma Atchley and Rod Lewis discuss tiered licensure during a Nov. 13 meeting at the Statehouse.

Last week, the board voted unanimously to make significant changes to the pending licensure rule – including removing all performance and accountability measures from the professional tier that would apply to teachers with more than three years experience.

Those changes came after hundreds of educators testified against the plan during public hearings, objecting to tying a teaching certificate to an evaluation performed at the district level.

Board staffers originally signaled they hoped to make changes this month to the career ladder for teacher pay.

But on Thursday, spokeswoman Marilyn Whitney said the board will not take up teacher pay when it meets Monday in Boise.

“The changes to the (tiered licensure) rule are triggering a need to review the career ladder concept and the board heard other things, including some incentives for education,” Whitney said. “It’s just going to take some time to do the work.”

The board is scheduled to meet at least one more time – on Dec. 18 — before the 2015 legislative session begins, and Whitney said the board would also have the option of calling a special meeting.

The career ladder is directly tied to tiered licensure, and calls for raising teacher salaries to between $40,000 and $58,000 following a five-year phase-in.

State law now establishes a minimum teacher salary of $31,750.

In September, the board granted original approval to the career ladder, with a cost of $175 million. But last week’s changes to tiered licensure now require the board update the pay proposal.

“The board is still committed to bringing something forward this (legislative) session on the compensation piece,” Whitney said.

Penni Cyr
Penni Cyr

On Tuesday, Idaho Education Association President Penni Cyr said the teachers’ association is “pleased with” changes in the tiered licensure plan, but remains concerned with the plan.

The IEA still doesn’t like that beginning teachers in the residency tier will have to pass observations at the local level and earn certain proficiency scores on evaluations to earn a professional certificate.

The IEA had been perhaps the most vocal opponents of the tiered licensure proposal, arguing since May the a teacher’s licensure should not be tied to local evaluations.

Although the IEA applauded the changes and thanked the board for “listening to all the input received through their hearings and email,” Cyr called for the board to put the proposal on hold until Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect Sherri Ybarra is sworn in and can provide input.

The IEA endorsed Ybarra’s Democratic opponent, Jana Jones, but Cyr said IEA members met with Ybarra shortly after her Election Day win earlier this month.

Cyr said officials welcomed her to office, and described the encounter as “a great meeting.”

“We let her know we want work with her as best we can and look forward to developing a great relationship with the State Department of Education,” Cyr said.

Ybarra has not responded to multiple interview requests from Idaho Education News since Nov. 5, the day after her election.

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