TWIN FALLS – Educators across the state have welcomed the emphasis on education spending in Governor Brad Little’s proposed budget.
During his State of State speech Monday in Boise, Little proposed giving public schools an 11% increase in general funding, the largest increase in state history.
The proposed increase in education spending in Idaho sends a message that education will be taken seriously in a state that has long been low on the per-student funding list, said the school district superintendent of Twin Falls, Brady Dickenson.
“Obviously, as educators, we are delighted to see the governor making the education of our young people a priority,” said Dickenson.
The governor’s proposals include an injection of $ 47 million for literacy programs such as full-time kindergartens or reading coaches, as determined by local school districts.
“I think targeting early literacy makes perfect sense,” Dickenson said. “I am excited that full-time kindergarten is an option for our community. There are a lot of people in Idaho who have long wanted the option of full-time kindergarten. So I think making it available to parents is a good thing.
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The option of increasing the time spent with teachers for students in early childhood through third grade would significantly improve student performance, he said.
“In terms of literacy and math, I think anytime you can get students to spend more time with their teachers, the likelihood of you doing better will increase,” Dickenson said.
The governor’s proposed budget includes a 5% salary increase for classified staff, which includes paraprofessionals who serve as teacher assistants, special education assistants and others who are in classrooms working with students. and supporting teachers. The Twin Falls School District has 63 open positions for such classified staff, and Dickenson said the pay increase will hopefully help attract more workers to classrooms.
“At the moment, we are really lacking that staff,” Dickenson said. “This is definitely a step in the right direction because at the moment we are just not in a position to offer a competitive salary to people in these job categories, so we need to focus on how we can. increase these salaries in the classified ranks. “
Other items on education spending proposed by the governor were incentives for teachers, including increased teacher pay and increased state contributions to teachers’ health insurance.
“It’s important in our district to make sure that we attract the best teachers,” Dickenson said. “We have seen over the past 20 months that this has been a difficult time for educators, and we have lost people who have moved to other states or who have left the profession altogether.”
Dickenson said the investment indicates the state takes education seriously and does not want to linger at the bottom of the education funding list.
“We appreciate his leadership in this area, he is obviously passionate about education, and of course we share that passion,” Dickenson said. “It is a bold move, it is a bold budget that he is proposing, and we are truly delighted and would like to thank the governor for his work.”
Peggy Hoy is the Director of the National Education Association for the Idaho Education Association and the Teacher Coach for the Twin Falls School District. She was in Boise to attend the State of State speech and said that the proposed 11% increase in the general fund education budget was something she had not heard in all of them. his years of teaching.
“I was very optimistic about the direction we are taking when it comes to funding education,” Hoy said. “We haven’t heard any promises of increases like this in as long as I’ve lived in the state of Idaho, and I’ve been here since 1991,” Hoy said.
As a representative of the Idaho Education Association, Hoy has led teacher compensation negotiations for the past six years. She says Little’s proposal to increase the state’s contribution to teachers’ health insurance will also make a big difference for educators in Idaho.
“Health insurance is always tough,” Hoy said. “It’s very expensive for our families to pay for health insurance, so it takes a huge chunk of the bottom line, it comes directly from a teacher’s salary. Raising this is really a big deal.
By stepping up the career ladder, Hoy said, the governor is supporting veteran teachers who have remained in office despite all the challenges of recent years. A recent poll shows that more than 51% of educators in Idaho plan to leave the profession after this year, and Hoy sees compensation adjustments as a way to keep more teachers in the classroom.
“We have to pay our educators a living wage,” she said.
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