The Idaho Legislature's budget writers have approved a new public school budget to be placed before lawmakers.
The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee approved a 5.1 percent increase in K-12 public school funding for the next fiscal year, far surpassing Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's recommendation of boosting public school funding by 2.9 percent, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's initial request to increase funding by 5.4 percent..
JFAC's Republican majority voted to push through an increase in the minimum teacher salary, from the current $31,000 to $31,750—a 1 percent increase.
Additionally, Idaho Ed News reports that the proposed spending plan would offer an additional $15.8 million for so-called teacher leadership "premiums" as bonuses. The budget also includes $35 million to help restore operations funding, $8 million for classroom technology, $5 million for curriculum materials, and $2.2 million for more Wi-Fi installations.
Idaho Ed News's Clark Corbin reports that all in, the K-12 budget is approximately $1.7 billion, representing nearly 47 percent of all state funding.
But the Idaho House, Senate and finally Otter will have a say before the spending plan is adopted.