State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna has cut the price tag for his “iSTARS” teacher merit pay plan from $60 million to $46 million, but JFAC made it clear to him this morning that that doesn’t cut it far enough. The governor’s budget, by setting aside enough for average 5 percent raises for teachers, provides only about $30 million to $35 million, Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, told Luna. Luna’s $46 million figure is the entire amount for raises available for all school employees, including administrators and classified workers like school custodians. Luna said he’d give administrators just 1 percent and classified workers just 3 percent, and he’d end up only about $5 million off from the governor’s figure. But Cameron said, “I don’t think we want to implement a teacher pay system on the backs of the classified personnel. We have to be honest with the dollars.” He added that in his view, the governor’s budget figure is the most the state could allocate. “That’s the ceiling,” he said.
Luna trimmed back his program by cutting bonuses teachers would get for meeting various criteria from $2,400 to $2,200, and by revising his estimate of how many of Idaho’s teachers would participate from 30 to 40 percent in the first year, to 20 to 25 percent.