In two consecutive editorials last week, the Express made its case against the 2 percent raise for teachers recently negotiated between the teachers' association (BCEA) and the school board.
Unfortunately, the Express didn't do its homework. Perhaps attending the three substantive full day sessions of negotiations rather than just the first introductory half-day session would have helped. Here's what they missed: The modest 2 percent raise on the salary schedule follows two years of 0 percent. Because of our unique funding situation, Blaine County has one of the state's best-funded school districts while enjoying one of the lowest property tax rates in the state. This raise won't change that. While much of the state is cutting staff and programs, Blaine County is able to continue toward its goal of becoming a model school district.
Teachers have shouldered a much increased workload over the past three years as several new programs, technologies, and curricula were adopted and implemented in the classroom. Here's one example: the Leader in Me program training took place last summer at two elementary schools. Teachers attended four days of training on their own time. The other elementary schools are scheduled to train this August. Add things like daily documentation and individualized instruction for struggling learners and you start to get the idea. These powerful tools help students achieve, but they do not fall out of the sky ready to go. It's the extra time spent by Blaine County's experienced, highly qualified teachers that turn programs and technology into learning.
The school board was right to acknowledge and honor that commitment and effort. Does Blaine County get what it pays for? Yes. Unlike the Idaho Legislature and Superintendent Luna, our school board, staff, and patrons choose to do more than provide the minimum required education at the minimum cost.
Thomas Van Slyke
Art teacher, Hemingway Elementary
BCEA Negotiation Team leader