Gov. Brad Little unveiled his top priority of the year on Wednesday, a five-year, $225 million plan to increase pay for Idaho’s most experienced and effective teachers.
Under the plan, Little would create a path for teachers to earn up to $63,000 by the 2024-25 school year. Under the current salary law, state payouts for teacher salaries top out at $50,000.
“It has been a constant theme of mine for the year, month and two weeks that I have been governor that we have to be competitive on teacher pay,” Little said during a breakfast briefing with reporters moments before his bill was introduced.
With no opposition — and almost no discussion — the House Education Committee quickly and unanimously voted to introduce the bill.
The bill would create a new top tier of the career ladder salary law. Little’s bill would add an “advanced professional compensation” rung above the career ladder’s existing residency and professional rungs.
Over the next five years, the bill would increase pay for veteran teachers who earn a spot on the advanced professional rung. It would also increase pay for educators throughout the career ladder.
If passed into law, the bill would increase state funding for teacher pay by $30 million for the upcoming 2020-21 school year. At full build out, in 2024-25, the career ladder would pay out a range, from a new state minimum of $41,500 in the first cell of the initial residency rung, to $63,000 in the fifth cell of the advanced professional rung.
The career ladder rungs would look like this at full build out, beginning July 1, 2024:
- Residency: $41,500 $42,500 $43,500.
- Professional: $44,500 $46,250 $48,000 $49,750 $ $51,500.
- Advanced Professional: $55,000 $57,000 $ 59,000 $61,000 $63,000
In a statement issued on Twitter on Wednesday morning, the Idaho Education Association called the proposal “A big first step toward showing veteran teachers the respect they have earned.”
Little told reporters his bill aligns with recommendations issued by former Gov. Butch Otter’s 2013 education task force, as well as Little’s 2019 “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” K-12 task force.
The 12-page bill would do several things:
- Create a new advanced professional endorsement for instructional staff and pupil services staff.
- Create a new accountability system governing eligibility for the new advanced professional endorsement.
- Create a new advanced professional compensation rung on the career ladder, with staff in their first year of holding an advanced professional endorsement being placed on the first cell of the advanced professional compensation rung of the career ladder.
- Create new minimum salary guarantees for educators who land on the professional or advanced professional compensation salary rungs, ensuring money allocated for veteran teachers would actually wind up in the hands of those teachers.
- Create a mechanism for the Legislature to consider salary increases after the five-year build out schedule.
- Create a new accountability provision that ensures school district or charter administrators who do not conduct teacher evaluations “with fidelity to the state framework for teaching evaluation” shall not be eligible to receive leadership premiums for distribution in their school district or charter school.
In that regard, the bill does three big things. It increases state funding for teacher pay, it creates a new accountability system and it creates a punishment for administrators that do not follow state rules and laws regarding teacher evaluations.
Last year, his first as governor, Little focused on increasing the state’s minimum teacher salary. With this bill, he is turning his focus to veteran educators.
“Now we are focused on providing a longterm career path so educators can remain in the classroom across Idaho,” said Greg Wilson, Little’s chief education advisor.
One of the problems with the existing career ladder is that it tops out for thousands of educators. For instance, the current top rung of the career ladder includes teachers in their ninth year in the profession alongside educators with more that 20 years of experience. Despite the gap in experience, the state pays out the same amount for all of those teachers. This new proposal would provide additional salary differentiation, Wilson said.
Little’s advisors believe that by providing additional state support for salaries they can help reduce school districts’ need to rely on supplemental property tax levies to help ensure they pay teachers competitively.
In terms of impact, Alex Adams, administrator of the Division of Financial Management, said there are 4,900 educators who placed in the top rung of the career ladder this year. For budgeting purposes, Little’s staff estimates “the lion’s share” of those educators would make the jump to a higher salary on the new advanced professional rung next year.
A fiscal note attached to the bill describes how much new spending the Legislature would need to allocate each year to implement the full $225 million plan.
- 2020-21: $30 million.
- 2021-22: $37.3 million.
- 2022-23: $44.6 million.
- 2023-24: $53.7 million.
- 2024-25: $59.7 million.
Introducing the bill clears the way for it to return to House Education for a full hearing.