Ybarra budget

State schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra presents her budget proposal for public schools to the Legislature's Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee in January of 2019.

Teacher pay raises are a centerpiece of Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra’s 2020-21 budget request, writes Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert. Ybarra is requesting $40 million to boost veteran teacher salaries — an extension of the five-year, $250 million “career ladder” salary plan.

“(The career ladder) has come a long way toward rewarding Idaho educators for their efforts and skill, especially in attracting new, early-career educators,” Ybarra said in a news release. “But we still need to do more for our experienced teachers, recognizing their value and encouraging them to stay in Idaho schools despite higher pay in other states.”

Ybarra’s budget request, released late Tuesday afternoon, comes as a gubernatorial task force is taking a second look at veteran teacher salaries. Task force members are talking about building out the career ladder — and supporting teacher salaries of up to $60,000.

Then-Gov. Butch Otter’s K-12 task force recommended the $60,000 maximum salary in 2013. Legislators never signed on, instead adopting a career ladder that maxed out at $50,000 and invested mostly in pay raises for newer teachers. Ybarra is a member of the new K-12 task force, convened this spring by Gov. Brad Little.

All told, Ybarra is seeking nearly $2 billion for the budget year beginning July 1. That total includes about $100.8 million in new spending, a 5.3 percent increase. Legislators have increased K-12 spending by at least $100 million every year for the past five years.

The budget request could be subject to change. Ybarra says she might submit a revised budget to reflect recommendations from Little’s task force, which are due this fall. Little will unveil his 2020-21 budget proposal in January. Later in January, Ybarra will go before the Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee to outline her spending plan.

You can read Richert's full story here at idahoednews.org, or pick up today's edition of the Idaho Press.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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