Ninety percent of the requested $64 million boost over the current public schools budget will go to boosting salary and benefits for teachers and other school employees, state schools Superintendent Tom Luna said Thursday.
Total teacher compensation will go up by 5 percent, he said, about the same percentage as the overall budget.
But much of that increase would come from the states new pay-for-performance plan that is up for repeal on the Nov. 6 ballot, along with two other education measures championed by Luna.
If the law goes away, so will the $61.1 million set aside in the proposed 2014 budget for merit bonuses to teachers and classified staff statewide. Thats up from $38.8 million this year, including school staff in the pay-for-performance mix and adding bonuses for teachers who take leadership roles or hard-to-fill jobs.
In a meeting with reporters Thursday, Luna acknowledged he will need to revamp his budget if one or more of the three Students Come First laws fails the ballot test. In addition to pay-for-performance, $8.4 million allocated for distributing laptops to students and other smaller planned expenditures would be rendered moot.
Other planned boosts to teacher pay will remain in the proposed budget regardless of what happens in the election. Luna proposes thawing one of the two experience steps that have been frozen in the Idaho teacher pay grid, yielding $6.2 million, and restoring a $14.8 million (1.67 percent) cut in base salaries that was part of implementing the new education laws.
Restoring base salaries, which still would lag behind pre-recession levels, was a top priority for the Idaho Education Association, Idaho School Boards Association and other groups the superintendent met with as he shaped his budget request, Luna said.
School Boards Association Executive Director Karen Echeverria said she was pleased to see that included in the proposed budget, as well as another top priority for school boards: increasing the amount of money boards can spend at their own discretion. Luna said his proposed budget includes a 2 percent increase in discretionary funding.
Idaho Education Association President Penni Cyr said Thursday she hasnt had a chance to go over the budget proposal in detail, but I know hes going for a 5 percent increase, and were pleased to see hes interested in repairing the damage thats been done. through budget cuts in recent years.
The IEA is among the most vocal opponents of the three new education laws and helped lead the push to get them on the November ballot for possible repeal.
Lunas total budget request seeks about $1.34 billion for Idaho public schools, up from $1.27 million in the year now under way. He also seeks a $531,100 increase in funding for Idaho Educational Services to the Deaf and the Blind, bringing that proposed budget to $7.9 million.
The request now goes to Gov. Butch Otter, who will review department proposals before making spending recommendations to the Legislature in January. The 2014 budget, which legislators will set, takes effect July 1.
Other items in Lunas public schools budget for 2014:
$1.4 million for a program that helps students finish high school early so they can get a head start on their college credits.
$1 million in increased funding for school districts to beef up technical support staffs.
$1.1 million in increased funding for remediation, math and reading initiatives and to help districts implement the states new accountability system.
Kristin Rodine: 377-6447
The Associated Press contributed.