State schools Superintendent Tom Luna told legislative budget writers, “We have good schools in Idaho, some of the best in the country. But that’s not the challenge, that’s not the question. The question is, in today’s world, is good good enough?” He said Idaho has high high school graduation rates, but one of the lowest rates in the country of students going on to post-secondary education.
Luna said, “There is a renaissance going on all across America in education. People have come to the realization that the status quo cannot continue, must not continue. Something has to change.” He touted his “Students Come First” reform plan, enacted by lawmakers last year, which includes trimming teachers' collective bargaining rights, phasing in laptop computers for every high school student and teacher, pay for performance for teachers and more; funding for the reforms is shifted from salaries.
He said, “We always made the commitment that we would backfill salary-based apportionment if we had the revenues.” Luna's budget proposal calls for a base salary increase to offset the cut, though Gov. Butch Otter didn't include that in his proposed budget. Luna told lawmakers, “With this budget (request) there will be no decrease for state-funded salaries.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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