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Eye On Boise

Nonini: ‘Reward excellence in the classroom’

Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, opens debate in the House on Wednesday on SB 1110, the teacher merit pay bill. He's the House sponsor of the bill, which is part of state schools Supt. Tom Luna's
Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, opens debate in the House on Wednesday on SB 1110, the teacher merit pay bill. He's the House sponsor of the bill, which is part of state schools Supt. Tom Luna's "Students Come First" reform plan. (Betsy Russell)

"Pay for the performance will reward excellence in the classroom," Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, told the House, opening debate on SB 1110, the teacher merit pay bill. Noting that the bill's first-year cost is $38 million and no funding source is identified, Nonini bristled at suggestions he's heard that it's an "unfunded mandate." In subsequent years, the program would cost the state $51.3 million a year. "This is statutory spending," he said. "Unfunded mandate - couldn't be further from the truth. That means it gets funded automatically from monies appropriated to fund public schools." He added, "We will have a reform bill that pays for this. Even if a reform bill ... does not get passed," he said, there will be a requirement to fund the program. Its first year is 2013, so it doesn't take effect next year.

"The way we pay Idaho teachers is archaic, it fails to recognize excellence and reward the great teachers we have in Idaho classrooms today," Nonini said. "Idaho teachers are solely paid on how much education they have ... and how many years they have in the classroom." He said, "One size doesn't fit all," and said, "Districts will finally be able to pay those who teach in hard-to-fill positions more." The current pay system, he said, is based on "inputs that are irrelevant."



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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