Outgoing Idaho state schools Superintendent Tom Luna had some parting words at his final state Land Board meeting today, as he ends his eight years in office. “Numerous times a year, I often press this board for larger and larger distributions (to schools ) – and there’s a reason for that,” he said. “These dollars that are provided to our public schools provide us the opportunity to go a little bit above and beyond the ability of the Legislature, and so I thought I’d walk you through just a couple programs.” The state’s endowment, overseen by the Land Board and the state Department of Lands, provides schools $32 million to $34 million year, Luna said. “So what do you get for $32 million to $34 million dollars?”
He pointed to the Idaho Space and Aerospace Scholars program, through which 500 Idaho students have now attended space camp and worked with NASA; state funding for all Idaho high school juniors to take the SAT and sophomores to take the PSAT; $16 million in performance pay for teachers this year through district leadership awards; advanced programs through which tens of thousands of students have earned college credit while still in high school this year; and the state’s math initiative.
“And while we’re always looking for more and I would encourage you to continue to pursue to find ways to increase the distribution, I would just thank you for your dedication to this fund and to this endowment and the good that it’s brought to Idaho kids,” Luna said, “and here’s the evidence.”