Teacher pay hike: 'Many will get nothing, some might only get $850'

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - More money for teachers is part of the state budget proposal, but the cash comes with strings attached. Lawmakers say the $15.8 million allocated for "teacher leadership premiums" amounts to about $850 for each teacher in Idaho, but only some will get a slice of the pie.

"The school districts will identify in what way they can best serve their students," said Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls. "One school district may determine they need to attract (a teacher) in a hard-to-fill position, and they may use some funding to incentivize that position, to hire someone new."

Other districts may pay teachers extra for having master's degrees or for mentoring students.

"I think teachers are excited to be recognized after many years of sacrificing for their students and the State of Idaho," said Penni Cyr, president of the Idaho Education Association, "so it's a step forward."

The amount of the leadership premiums would depend on the school district, Rep. Clow said, but there is a range.

"Some teachers might get $5,750," he said. "Others, many will get nothing. Some might only get $850."

(For eligible teachers, the minimum they'd receive is $850 and the maximum is $5,750, according to Clow.)

Cyr said she would rather have a pay hike for all educators as opposed to the premiums "because teachers have lost wages or been frozen for a number of years now."

Rep. Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree, said this approach is a better one than an across-the-board salary increase.

"We felt like this was, because with the career ladder that comes next year, there's going to be a lot more money put into pay next year," VanOrden said.

Rep. Clow said a third or even half of teachers might get the leadership premiums, which if approved, would go into effect July 1. The budget proposal also includes a 1 percent boost for all teachers.