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The Standard Journal reports:  Idaho Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Luna is asking for a budget increase of $77 million next year to help restore funding to pay for school operations and give teachers a pay raise.

Luna is also proposing as part of his 2014-15 budget a plan to help high school juniors and seniors pay for dual-credit classes that help earn college credit before graduation.


Luna on Tuesday unveiled details of his proposed $1.37 billion budget, which calls for a 5.9 percent hike compared to the current fiscal year, making it the highest percentage point increase since 2008.

Of the $77 million in new money, Luna’s budget recommends diverting $16.5 million into classrooms and operations to help offset more than $82 million in cuts made during the recent economic downturn.

The budget also proposes $42.5 million for boosting teacher salaries as part of a career ladder that would reward teachers for improving student performance, classroom management and educational leadership. The proposal would eliminate paying teachers based on length of service or additional education, and the total cost of the program over six years would be $250 million.

Luna said his budget closely reflects guidance provided earlier this year by the education task force created by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.

In August, the Task Force for Improving Education produced 20 recommendations, including improving teacher compensation and requiring students to show mastery in a subject before moving onto another one.

Luna, a member of the task force, said money isn’t the only solution to putting the recommendations into place. Stakeholders also need to discuss changes to the education system that don’t have large price tags.

“This whole package needs to be implemented,” he said. “This isn’t a buffet.”

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