One of the most controversial planks of Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s education reform laws is one step closer to being reversed.
The Senate Education Committee Monday unanimously approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, that would stop reductions to the teacher pay pool brought forth in the reform laws.
Instead of using money taken from the teacher pay pool to put more technology in classrooms, including laptops for students, Cameron’s bill would force the budget committee to find funding for everything.
That includes the tech reform, $30 million in merit pay for teachers and the pool for teacher pay.
Cameron’s legislation would cost about $35 million through the next five years, with the bulk of that money coming in 2013 and 2014. To keep the teacher pay pool whole next year, lawmakers will need $18 million.
Though Cameron was one of Luna’s chief reform foes last year, the superintendent is backing the measure to restore teacher pay.
Cameron, who heads the budget committee, said he is hopeful the state can afford to fully fund the teacher pay pool and all of Luna’s initiatives through at least the next three years. If there are shortfalls, Cameron said, his committee will look at other areas of the state budget to cut to keep education spending as whole as possible.
Penni Cyr, Idaho Education Association president, testified in support of Cameron’s bill, but said the group still believes Luna’s reforms are faulty. She said even full restoration of teacher pay would not alleviate concerns about reforms and that the group will still push for repeal of the laws in a November referendum.
The bill now heads to the Senate floor.