Idaho teachers could start seeing raises as soon as next fall after Governor Butch Otter signed a pay plan known as the “career ladder” into law Thursday.
It will gradually boost teacher pay over the next five years, eventually bringing the minimum entry-level salary to $37,000 a year. The state would provide up to $50,000 a year for the salaries of experienced teachers.
Otter said at the signing ceremony that the measure will help Idaho attract quality teachers.
“And I think that was what was held up constantly -- what are we doing for and what are we doing to and how are we doing that -- for the student in the classroom and the most important education tool we have and that is the teacher in the classroom,” the governor said.
Idaho’s teacher pay lags behind many neighboring states. Rural districts and those along the border with Washington, Oregon and Wyoming say they struggle to fill critical positions.
Teacher pay was one of the legislature’s top priorities this year. Lawmakers went through several versions of the bill.
Provisions to assess teacher performance and student growth initially drew harsh criticism from Idaho teachers, but the teachers’ union supports the final plan. It gives teachers more input into their assessments and allows groups of teachers to earn bonuses together through collaboration.