Light at the end of the tunnel? - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Luna's budget for next year boosts teacher pay

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Posted: Friday, September 7, 2012 12:15 am

BOISE - Public schools chief Tom Luna detailed Thursday a proposed budget for next year that increases teacher base pay by $14.8 million, restoring the last of funding that was being shifted from salaries to help pay for his education overhaul.

Overall, Luna's budget funds the reform package while boosting state spending on Idaho schools by $64.5 million next year, with most of that money going toward compensation, he said during a meeting with reporters in his downtown Boise office.

"This fully funds the Student Come First programs and also makes considerable inroads into bringing up teacher compensation," Luna said.

School superintendents in Kootenai County's two largest districts are pleased with Luna's proposal.

In Post Falls, Jerry Keane said that if approved, the plan will help his district recover from several years of budget cuts. The state funding appropriation to the Post Falls School District has been cut by $3.6 million since 2009.

"As the state restores more of the funding needed to run our schools, our reliance on our local property taxpayers can be reduced," said Coeur d'Alene Superintendent Hazel Bauman. "We are grateful to our community for their support during these tough economic times and are hopeful that their burden may be reduced if the state can return to former funding levels of K-12 education."

Along with more money for base salaries - which remain below levels established in fiscal year 2009 - teacher paychecks would also get a boost from a $22.6 million increase in funding for merit bonuses that were approved under Luna's reforms in 2011, he said.

With the increase, Luna budgeted $61 million for pay-for-performance next year, when the program will be expanded to allow other school professionals to compete. Also, teachers will be rewarded not only for raising student achievement, but also for taking on hard-to-fill positions or leadership roles.

Luna's budget also includes an $8.4 million increase in funding for laptops that will start going to high school students next year. The state is already spending $2.5 million to give teachers the devices this year under the reforms, which go before voters in November.

Critics succeeded last summer in getting repeal measures on the ballot, decrying the sweeping changes that limited teacher collective bargaining and introduced merit pay while phasing in laptops and making online courses a graduation requirement.

The reforms initially called for shifting money from salaries to help fund the changes. While lawmakers eliminated further deductions in the 2012 session, an initial withdrawal of more than $14 million remained. Luna's proposed budget, based on feedback from various education groups, would eliminate that deduction next year, he said.

"That was a common request," Luna said.

The state Department of Education and other state agencies typically submit budget proposals in September for the next fiscal year, which doesn't start until July 1. Gov. Butch Otter reviews those proposals before making spending recommendations in his State of the State speech in January.

Luna has often said predicting Idaho's economy is tough in a good year and even more difficult in bad times. His budget recommendation includes a 5 percent increase for public schools next year, following a 4.6 percent increase in state general funding this fiscal year.

Staff writer Maureen Dolan contributed to this report.

Other budget items for schools:

n $1.4 million for a program that helps students finish high school early so they can get a head start on their college credits.

n $6.2 million to unfreeze one year of the pay grid that compensates teachers for experience.

n $1 million in increased funding for school districts to beef up their technical support staffs.

n $1.1 million in increased funding for remediation, math and reading initiatives and to help districts implement the state's new accountability system.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • Ziggy posted at 3:28 pm on Sat, Sep 8, 2012.

    Ziggy Posts: 1159

    Laptops are pretty well obsolete as anyone in business can tell you. Thumb drives, memory chips, etc. these can carry all programs around with them at a cost of a few dollars.
    Why give kids laptops? Why not schedule internet classes during the day with classes taking turns in computer lab. That way the IT people will not be driven to distraction trying to keep all these computers that will be in private homes having heaven knows what done to them running?

  • local res posted at 7:32 am on Sat, Sep 8, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1164

    mister d sounds like it is all about teachers pay and the states ability to manage public employees.

  • local res posted at 7:28 am on Sat, Sep 8, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1164

    Critical thinking skills taught by a teacher. That is a good joke. Teachers DON'T teach all sides of any issue and allow the students to develop their own ability to form their own decisions. The teachers who post here don't even attempt assist others to develop critical thinking skills, it all about some republican or about more money and the union. When I was recently in school, I had only two teachers that actually taught critical thinking skills.

    I have seen the students come out of the local schools. Some are great students while others lack basic reading, writing and math skills? Why were they passed through the school system and not prepared with the basic skills?

    I have seen in the past teachers making statements in this blog about preparing students for the future, great. Now accept a changing future. All colleges now offer multiple classes online.

  • local res posted at 7:16 am on Sat, Sep 8, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1164

    Teachers and their unions are like pigs at the trough. They are never satisfied.

  • Why Not posted at 1:01 pm on Fri, Sep 7, 2012.

    Why Not Posts: 4381

    Why is it so funny to believe that kids can’t learn to think by use of the computer? There are lots of opinions on the Internet, some good some not, some right some in half right and others that are in right or left field. The truth is that kids, like adults learn quickly how to fact check. They also are like sponges and they use the magic box to obtain incredible skill, witness this in my own kids all the time.

    5inPFs, they are in college or graduated, but are products of this district in the past seven years. The experience we encountered and I know others have as well, is that the standard is all kids learn the same. They don’t and that is why the flexibility of the Internet is great. It allows pace and it creates options. What I witnessed was that kids who fail end up in classes with the worst teachers, the newest teachers and with kids who are not in class to learn. In fact they are basically warehoused and expected to pull through on their own. When you are cast into a room full of your peers, some who are potentially trouble makers, and with a teacher who cannot control or doesn’t even have a class plan, how does the student learn? Even the best kids experience a problem along the way, for one of mine it was American History.

    That your child experienced a tough problem and you had to help her, great and I am very happy that you could do this. Have you considered that there are parents who can’t manage a checkbook? That answers are easy to come by is a given, it’s always been there computers or not. At your direction, or with the correct instructions kids can also access the fundamentals for solving problem X. Keeping them from cheating, that’s good parenting.

    “Stop trying to force something that has been proven to be unreliable down my academic throat, and I’ll stop complaining.” Tell you what 5inPFs; your child is growing up into a world where information and knowledge is a keystroke away. If you believe that the system is great, then why are so many kids graduating unprepared? All I am saying is try something, anything but stop throwing money at something that hasn’t worked properly in maybe, what thirty years?

  • 5inPfs posted at 9:27 am on Fri, Sep 7, 2012.

    5inPfs Posts: 702

    "Critical thinking skills, comprehension and formulating opinions is whole other ballgame."

    You think they learn that from using the internet?!!!!

    " If they are learning from educators how to use the Internet rather than accept the first answer they find, and if through the process formulate their own opinions, we will have less sheep and more leaders in the future."

    Now, that IS funny. Do you have any children at home, Why Not?

    Let me give you a scenario--my child comes home with a homework assignment that requires her to find the answers on the internet (yes, teachers are ALREADY using the internet in their assignments--imagine that). She googles the question, picks the first link, and puts down her answer. Now, my child is very smart--she may not accept the first answer the internet gives her, but I can assure you that 90% of the children doing that assignment...will.

    What have they learned? That the internet can answer all their questions without them having to learn it. Please explain to me how that fosters critical thinking skills and comprehension?

    Just this week my daughter came home with a story problem that she was having problems figuring out. My husband and I could see immediately that the question was way above the class level, but we didn't give her the answer...we sat down with her and guided her thoughts and helped clarify them until she figured it out on her own. Some of her classmates plugged the formula into the internet and got the answer. Now who do you think learned critical thinking skills and comprehension?

    "Stop Complaining and give it a try….."

    Stop trying to force something that has been proven to be unreliable down my academic throat, and I'll stop complaining.

  • Why Not posted at 8:22 am on Fri, Sep 7, 2012.

    Why Not Posts: 4381

    "It is about your attempts to help destroy what was a better than average education system (higher than national average test scores) and vilifying the teachers who dedicate their profesional careers to reach this." - Mr. D, and BTW that’s professional.

    Teaching kids to pass multiple choice exams is pretty easy. Memorization is simple. No more difficult than the automated check out at the grocery. Critical thinking skills, comprehension and formulating opinions is whole other ballgame. Face it, kids learn differently and more completely today by using the Internet. If they are learning from educators how to use the Internet rather than accept the first answer they find, and if through the process formulate their own opinions, we will have less sheep and more leaders in the future. Change is Never easy and it's not always good, but you will not know until you try it. What I know is that while test scores may be better, and I haven't looked into that claim yet, graduation rates and kids motivated to go on to secondary education in this state Suck.

    Stop Complaining and give it a try…..

  • mister d posted at 7:32 am on Fri, Sep 7, 2012.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    Although money is important, especially when teacher pay in Idaho is some of the lowest in the nation, it's not all about the pay Luna. It is about your attempts to help destroy what was a better than average education system (higher than national average test scores) and vilifying the teachers who dedicate their profesional careers to reach this. It is about your attempt to take away teacher rights to push and negotiate for standards to help their students (class limits were pushed by teachers not legislators). I know teachers who have taken many financial hits to gain benefits for the kids - Luna, you have no clue about the education system and how to really put children first. Dump the Luna laws then dump Luna.

  • voxpop posted at 5:25 am on Fri, Sep 7, 2012.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    The key word in this article comes at the very beginning - "proposed." Luna knows as well as anyone that this increase is just a scam in order to take some steam out of the push to repeal his efforts to destroy public education. There isn't a chance in the known universe that Goedde and Nonini will allow this to pass in the legislature. The central fact remains. Luna's efforts to turn public education into an online odyssey, and then pay for it with teacher compensation, should be repealed. Then Luna should be repealed.

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