Gov. Butch Otter signs off on bills for $1.37 billion K-12 budget

The governor has until next week to finish approving legislation.

IDAHO EDUCATION NEWSMarch 29, 2014 

Gov. Butch Otter signed the last four pieces of the public school budget Friday.

At a general fund sum of $755.1 million, House Bill 638 includes a 1 percent pay raise for teachers and increases the minimum teacher salary from $31,000 to $31,750. Those items cost a combined $13.9 million.

The budget also includes $15.8 million for teacher leadership premiums - a bonus system that represents a small step in creating a teacher salary ladder.

Otter has not vetoed any bill this year.

The remaining three K-12 budgets signed Friday were:

• House Bill 641, a public and charter school facilities budget, which includes $7.2 million from tax coffers. The $36 million facilities package is bolstered by lottery proceeds.

• House Bill 642, an $8.3 million budget for deaf and blind programs.

• House Bill 643, a $16.8 million catchall budget for "central services."

That includes $4.5 million for schools to purchase instructional management systems to provide teachers with up-to-date student performance data; $2.7 million for teacher professional development to support Idaho Core Standards; and $2.25 million for high school Wi-Fi systems.

Otter signed the other three K-12 budgets Wednesday.

In other education-related bill signings Friday, Otter gave his blessing to House Bill 589, a school safety bill. Passed by the House and Senate on the final day of the session, the bill allows school districts to tap into cigarette tax revenues to craft school safety plans or make safety upgrades such as hiring school resource officers or installing new security equipment.

Otter also signed Senate Bill 1232, which shields bus drivers from liability if they come to the aid of a passenger in danger.

A few education bills are still in the hopper. The list includes a bill to create a citizens committee to review questions on the new Common Core-aligned assessment; a bill laying out ground rules for districts to install their own, state-funded Wi-Fi systems; and a bill that would reshape the way lottery proceeds are distributed to school programs.

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