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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Idaho Ed Board approves plan to increase teacher pay

BOISE - Idaho’s state Board of Education has unanimously endorsed legislation to set up a “career ladder” for Idaho teachers, phasing in substantial pay increases if teachers meet performance standards. “The need and time for higher salaries is now,” said Richard Westerberg, a board member and chairman of the governor’s education improvement task force, which proposed the career ladder plan as one of its 20 recommendations for reforming Idaho education. The plan, Westerberg said, “would allow districts to reward their best teachers.” Funding for base salaries for beginning teachers would rise from $31,750 to $40,000 over five years; in the first year, the 2015-16 school year, it would rise to $33,600. Top-level teachers would see their base salaries rise from $47,000 to $58,000 over five years; the first year, it would rise to $47,803. “It is a little weighted for those just entering the profession,” said board spokesman Marilyn Whitney. Teachers would get the raises only if they meet proficiency standards in teacher evaluations and a majority of their students meet achievement targets set by their school districts. The plan also includes pay increases for attaining higher levels of education; those with a bachelor’s degree plus 24 credits would earn an additional $2,000 a year; master’s degree, $3,500; and doctorate, $6,000. The career ladder would replace Idaho’s current teacher pay grid, which boosts teachers’ base salaries based on factors including 14 experience levels and seven education levels. “The career ladder represents a major step forward in how Idaho pays teachers,” said state Board President Emma Atchley. “Idaho public school salaries would become more competitive with other states and the private sector. We believe this plan will be crucial in attracting and retaining great teachers and will significantly improve the quality of education for our students.” Dave Harbison, spokesman for the Idaho Education Association, said the teachers union was still studying the legislation Thursday. “We’re trying to figure out what exactly is in it and what it all means,” he said. The career ladder plan would be in addition to the $16 million that school districts are now authorized to receive each year for leadership bonuses for teachers recognized by their districts for everything from mentoring to teaching dual-credit classes to earning additional endorsements. The first-year cost of the career-ladder legislation is estimated at $23.7 million; over five years, it’s $193 million. Whitney said, “The impetus is let’s get more money into teacher salaries … and at the same time, let’s ensure that we have teacher quality.”