Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, making his committee’s recommendations to JFAC this morning on the public school budget, said he’s disappointed to have to pass along a recommendation for an interim committee to study mentoring, master teachers and merit pay for teachers. Idaho was in line for a federal grant to launch a pilot project on pay for performance in three school districts, Goedde told the joint budget committee, but lost the grant for a second time for lack of a state matching appropriation. “This year’s … was ready to go,” Goedde said. “Once again, for the lack of $543,000, Idaho lost the opportunity for $17 million in federal funds over five years to pilot this project. … The chances were very good that Idaho could have been the recipient of the grant.”
Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, said he takes some of the blame for that, but asked how much state money would be required over the life of the five-year grant. Goedde’s reply was that after the initial $543,000, the state would have to pay another $11.5 million over five years. “I certainly wasn’t pointing a finger at you,” Goedde told Cameron.
Goedde’s committee, after taking testimony from an array of education groups, had several specific proposals to add to Supt. Tom Luna’s budget proposal for public schools for next year. They included putting $10 million more into teacher salaries than Luna’s recommended 3 percent increase; spending $3.5 million from the state’s school budget stabilization fund to make up 70 percent of the federal Craig-Wyden payments to rural school districts that are expected to be lost next year; and giving rural school districts access to loans or grants from the school budget stabilization fund if needed. He also said if JFAC doesn’t fund all of Luna’s proposed classroom enhancement program, which would give specific funding for more school supplies, textbooks, remediation and advanced classes, that he’d favor letting Luna decide how to divide up the remaining money between those four aims. Nonini made a similar recommendation.