Hearing for legislation on veteran teacher pay

Posted at 4:14 PM, Feb 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-25 20:16:39-05

BOISE — Idaho is increasing starting teacher salaries to nearly $40,000, and now veteran teachers are hoping to similar raises.

"That was the biggest thing we heard from our veteran teachers, like 'when is it our turn?'" said 6th-grade teacher in Rexburg, Idaho Melanie Hammond.

Hammond has been a teacher for 13 years, serving kids in Rexburg, but before her school day begins, she's up working another job.

"I needed to supplement my income a few years ago just because of life and to support my family, so I teach early in the morning at 4 to student over in china," said Hammond.

House Bill 523 would build on the career ladder, and up pay to over $60,000 for certain veteran teachers in the next five years.

"It would completely change my lifestyle," said Hammond, "I wouldn't wake up at 4 in the morning, I would be able to keep my focus on my students that are here in Idaho."

Five years ago, the career ladder was instituted, which the Idaho State Board of Education says worked to attract educators. Now, they're on the next step: retention.

"Where our board and the task force and the governor believes we can do more work is increasing the pay and appropriation that goes out to local districts," said Debbie Critchfield, president of Idaho State Board of Education.

Retention is a considerable problem districts across the state face, including Erin Murillo's, in Fruitland.

"We're uniquely situated because Fruitland is on the border of Ontario, Oregon, and so just in the last year, we lost five educators to neighboring districts," said Murillo.

Representatives at Tuesday's hearing raised questions on if this projection would be able to keep up with revenue forecast for the next few years.

"I absolutely think it's a good second step because step one was increasing that early-career educator pay," said Murillo.

There's another hearing at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 26. To read the full bill text, click here.