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MAKING THE GRADE: Task Force Recommendations, Boise Pre-K, And Teacher Pay

Posted at 11:42 AM, Oct 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-02 13:44:29-04

BOISE, Idaho — Michelle Edmonds and Idaho Education News reporter, Kevin Richert, take a look at this week's hottest education topics in Making the Grade.

After nearly five months of work and 25 meetings, Gov. Brad Little’s K-12 education task force began narrowing its focus Tuesday.

The full “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” task force pared a list of 11 recommendations to four — with a fifth on the way later this month.

The recommendations now include:

  • Professional development and access to additional resources tied to better serving students facing social and emotional challenges, including trauma and mental illness.
  • Greater opportunities for optional, all-day kindergarten.
  • Expanding and building out a third rung of the career ladder salary program, paying out $40,000, $50,000 and $60,000.
  • Collapsing state budget earmarks, called line items, and providing more financial flexibility for school districts and charters.

Later this month, the task force will move forward with a fifth recommendation to create an additional accountability system for school superintendents and principals, using growth in Idaho Reading Indicator scores to compare schools with similar demographics.

Meanwhile, for 1,405 Idaho teachers, the wait is over.

And for 1,226 teachers, the money is on the way.

The vast majority of applicants will receive one of Idaho’s new master educator premiums — a $4,000-per-year bonus designed to reward Idaho’s highest performing veteran teachers.

The State Board of Education’s emails to applicants began going out Monday, and more went out on Tuesday.

The long-awaited word on the premiums comes more than three months after applicants turned in detailed portfolios laying out their case for a share of the money.

But the process has been marked by disenchantment and delays.

Many applicants bemoaned the time-consuming application process, saying it took 80 to 120 hours to put together the state-required paperwork. By the State Board’s own numbers, thousands of qualified teachers didn’t apply for the premiums.

Meanwhile, technical glitches delayed the review process. And in hundreds of cases, the application reviews stretched into September — past the State Board’s target date for wrapping up the project.

“It has been a challenging process for all involved,” State Board spokesman Mike Keckler said Tuesday morning. “Our hope is next year will go much smoother.”

From here, recipients will have to turn in paperwork attesting that their application materials are accurate.

Watch the full, in depth discussion below: