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Goedde: ‘We’re pouring money into a broken system’

Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, is speaking against the public school budget. He said he has no problem with the bottom line amount. “My problem lies in some specific areas in the budget,” he told the Senate. Goedde said he objects to restoring frozen steps on the teacher salary grid, contending the state would use one-time money for ongoing expenses. He also said schools have gotten more for salaries through the recession than other state agencies, and said rather than restore teacher pay, he’d prefer to “buy three additional contract days,” to allow for more professional development for teachers.  Said Goedde, “Everyone wins. … Students win from the opportunity of better-prepared teachers.”

Goedde said he thought the $21 million included in the budget for locally directed teacher merit bonuses and professional development lacked adequate “sideboards,” saying, “That allows the bar to be set at ankle height.” He also contended the money targeted toward wireless networks at the state’s high schools was inadequate, and said there were insufficient restrictions on the $3 million for grants for technology pilot projects. “In theory, the superintendent of public instruction could take that $3 million and send it to one pilot school and say this will pay for your program for six years,” Goedde said. “That gives me some concern.”

Goedde also said he wanted to preserve the $34 million that had been discussed at the start of the session as funding for recommendations from a stakeholders task force. “These are decisions the joint committee could make if this budget is returned to them," he said. "I urge you to send the budget back to the joint committee for further work.” Goedde acknowledged that would extend the legislative session, now scheduled to adjourn by the end of this week.

He said, “I’m going to suggest to you that we’re pouring money into a broken system.” He said later that he was referring to the state's teacher salary schedule in that comment, not to the school system as a whole.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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