After much work and several last-minute revisions, JFAC has voted 19-0 in favor of a budget for the office of the State Board of Education for next year that includes $1 million to create a template for teacher evaluations and provide training on it to school administrators. That replaces Gov. Butch Otter’s proposal for $5 million - $2.5 million for administrator training on teacher evaluations and $2.5 million for a “Principals Pursuing Excellence” program under the state board. State schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra told JFAC that an improvement network for principals, and she said her office could provide the necessary training for administrators for much less.
The teacher evaluations are key because they’re built into the new “career ladder” to improve teacher pay.
Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, said, “This was one of those late-breaking requests that came to us, so we spent a significant amount of time doing some homework on this issue.”
She said, “As you know we had a review of teacher evaluations released just prior to session that indicated there may be need for concern about those evaluations for the career ladder.” At that time, she said, lawmakers didn’t have information about how many principals were “certified and trained in this program.” Last month, she said, the state Board of Education released a detailed review of the evaluation process, “And things weren’t quite as dire as we feared.”
Horman said a working group of JFAC members, including herself, Sen. Dean Mortimer, Sen. Abby Lee, and Rep. Steve Miller, developed the final budget proposal, which reflects a 60.6 percent increase in stsate general funds, though a 28.7 decrease overall from the current year’s appropriation. That compares to Gov. Butch Otter’s original recommendation for a 175.7 percent increase in general funds to the office of the state board, and 42.4 percent increase in total funds.