Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Luna: No more reforms this year

State superintendent of public instruction visits Blaine schools

Express Staff Writer

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, left, is greeted by Blaine County School District Superintendent Lonnie Barber. Luna was in Blaine County on Friday for meetings with administrators and visits to Wood River Middle School and Woodside Elementary School. Photo by Willy Cook

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna says he doesn't have any more educational reforms in mind for the 2012 Legislature.

"We did it all in one year," Luna said in an interview. "We didn't want to piecemeal this out."

Luna was in Blaine County on Friday for meetings with administrators and visits to Wood River Middle School and Woodside Elementary School, both in Hailey.

Luna's educational reforms were controversial last year, statewide and in Blaine County. Measures approved by the 2011 Legislature included limiting the power of teachers unions, implementing a pay-for-performance program for teachers, cutting back on state funding for teachers and implementing online course requirements for high school students.

Luna noted that Blaine County—with a permanent "stabilization" levy on property taxes—is in a better financial position than many school districts in the state, but added that "when we look at school districts, we look at academic growth and not how much they spend—and this is a good school district."

Financially, school districts should get some new state help next year, he said, noting that he's proposing a 5 percent increase in education spending.

"We're confident that the budget we've proposed this year will work," he said.

At Wood River Middle School, Luna visited teacher Lynda Waite's seventh-grade leadership class and teacher Jill Clark's seventh-grade life sciences class, joking with students and complimenting them on their achievements.

He toured Woodside Elementary School with district Elementary Math Specialist Carla Scanlon and met with representatives of the school's Parent Teacher Association.

Idaho State Department of Education spokeswoman Melissa McGrath, who accompanied Luna on his trip to Blaine County, said the school visits were in line with Luna's "goal to get to every school district in the state."

Terry Smith:

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