Luna seeks 3% hike for education budget

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BOISE – Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna recommended a 3 percent, or $37.9 million, increase for Idaho’s public schools today during his presentation to the Legislature’s budget-setting committee.

Each year, Superintendent Luna provides his ideas and recommendations for the public schools budget for the upcoming fiscal year to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC). This year, Superintendent Luna also provided recommendations on how the Legislature should handle the remainder of the current fiscal year 2013 appropriation for Idaho schools.

He recommended the Legislature provide funding to school districts through fiscal year 2013 as originally appropriated last year.

“Districts set budgets, signed contracts, and made commitments based on the original fiscal year 2013 appropriation. Teachers engaged in expected professional development to implement new tools in the classroom. It’s important and necessary that districts receive the money they were expecting and that educators continue to receive the professional development that they planned for and need,” Superintendent Luna told members of JFAC on Thursday.

For fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1 and covers the 2013-14 school year, Superintendent Luna has proposed a 3 percent increase in general funds. This increase will be used to restore the 1.67% shift in teacher salaries, raise the minimum teacher salary, restore a historical line item for classroom technology, provide professional development as Idaho teachers begin to implement higher academic standards, fund more math and science teachers, and continue to offer dual credit opportunities for high school students.

Superintendent Luna also committed to working with the Idaho Legislature and Task Force for Improving Education, recently created by the State Board of Education, to develop a new differentiated compensation plan for Idaho’s teachers to ensure that more than $30 million in state funding – a historic increase in teacher pay last year – remains in teacher compensation.

“I am convinced the only way we can continue to see this unprecedented amount of funding go toward teacher compensation is if the state develops a form of differentiated compensation for Idaho’s educators – similar to what other professions have in place today. I understand this plan will look different than the plan that stakeholders crafted in 2009 and that the state implemented last year,” Superintendent Luna said. “I am committed to working with the members of the Task Force for Improving Education and this Idaho Legislature so that together we can ensure every penny continues to go to Idaho’s teachers and educators, not only this year but next year and in the future.”

Here are the highlights of Superintendent Luna’s request for the FY2014 Public Schools Budget:

· 3 percent, or $37.9 million, increase in General Funds for public schools

· 1.67% to restore the shift in funding for teacher salaries

· Raise the minimum teacher salary to $31,000

· 1.5% increase in discretionary funds for local school districts and public charter schools

· 2% increase in pupil transportation funds

· $10.4 million to restore a historic line item for classroom technology for school districts

· $3.7 million to fund professional development as Idaho teachers implement higher academic standards

· $4.8 million to continue funding for more math and science teachers

· $7.7 million to follow through on the state’s commitment to operate the statewide instructional management system, known as Schoolnet, and provide professional development opportunities for Idaho teachers on how to integrate this system in the classroom

· $10 million to begin a two-year phase-in to restore school facilities and maintenance funding

· $250,000 to continue the Dual Credit for Early Completers Program

· $150,000 to reconvene the Safe Schools Task Force that will take a renewed look at school safety in Idaho

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