The following are Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's prepared remarks to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Thursday, January 26, 2012.
Mr. Chair/Madame Chair, thank you for inviting me to be here today.
I stand before you for the first time in four years with good news for our public schools.
If I were to title this presentation, it would be: The tale of two economies. This year, our discussions no longer focus on where we can strategically cut from the public schools budget or shift funds in this difficult economic time to alleviate reductions to our schools.
Instead, we are finally facing a surplus.
Before I get into the request for the Public Schools Budget, let me briefly go over my request for the State Department of Education.
Just like other state agencies, the State Department of Education has not been immune to the economic crisis our state has faced in recent years.
The Department has made significant reductions to its base General Fund appropriation, while continuing to provide additional services and putting our customers – the students of Idaho – first every day.
This year, even though we face a surplus in revenue for the first time in four years, I am not requesting new funding for my agency, the State Department of Education, outside of what has previously been planned to operate longitudinal data.
Instead, I want to ensure – as do all employees at the Department of Education – that the first available revenues go back into our public schools.
At the Department, we have managed to run effectively and efficiently since 2007 and will continue to do so in the coming year.
The State Department of Education is a customer-driven agency that works to meet the needs of EVERY student in Idaho and prepare these students to live, work and succeed in the 21st Century.
Just as we have asked school districts to make changes over the past year with the implementation of Students Come First, we have made necessary changes at the Department too.
To better meet the vision and goals of Idaho’s new education system, the State Department of Education reorganized its internal divisions and staff in September 2011.
Under the new organizational structure, the State Department of Education has five (5) divisions:
1. 21st Century Classroom
2. Great Teachers & Leaders
3. Transparent Accountability
4. Public School Finances
5. Federal Programs
These changes have worked effectively so far as we have been implementing the Students Come First reform laws statewide.
My request for the Department Budget for FY 2013 will reflect our continued commitment to customer service and providing quality customer service to students, parents and our schools and districts.
For FY2013, I am requesting a maintenance and operation budget, with the exception of the final request in funding for the statewide longitudinal data system.
This means my budget request includes:
· No increases in CEC
· No inflationary increases, and
· No request for General Fund capital replacement items for the Department
The only request in this budget is the ongoing funding required to maintain and operate Idaho’s statewide longitudinal data system – known as the Idaho System for Educational Excellence, or ISEE.
When I took office in 2007, Idaho was one of 3 states in the nation without a longitudinal data system.
By 2008, we were the last state in the nation to have such a system.
Instead, Idaho had a cumbersome data collection system in place that required duplicative reporting from districts throughout the year.
Here is what our data collection processes looked like at the state level when I took office.
We conducted 184 different data collections during a single school year.
In a single year, school districts would have to report the first and last names of students and teachers to the state more than 154 times a year in different data collection processes.
Now, through ISEE, we have streamlined data collection at the state level.
All data collection goes through one system – ISEE.
It requires districts to upload data just once a month.
That’s 12 times a year, compared with 184 times a year under the old system.
ISEE has not only streamlined data collections, but it also has improved the quality of the data we are receiving at the state level.
Here is what our data collection processes look like now.
Because of this, we could not implement many of the initiatives we wanted to do, such as a growth model for measuring academic success.
Districts could not track a student’s academic progress if that student moved from district to district.
Now, this is all possible with ISEE. We have individual-level data that can be verified at the district and state levels.
Now, we can implement an academic growth model to measure student success.
Now, districts can track student progress from school to school and district to district – even if they move across the state.
In the past, this wasn’t possible. ISEE has been fully operational for two years.
The first year was challenging for schools and for my department as the implementation of any new system is expected to be. Just like in our schools, we at the department had to shift people and resources from other areas. This at a time when we all had already seen significant reductions in resources and employees were spread thin.
But we have made great strides – in large part because we have worked closely with the Idaho Association of School Administrators and Idaho Association of School Business Officials over the past year.
Here is one example of our progress. A year ago, in October of 2010, just 9 districts or charter schools had uploaded error-free data into ISEE.
This year, by October of 2011, 133 districts or charters had uploaded/submitted error-free data.
This is significant progress.
I spent time in districts this year visiting with the staff who are responsible for uploading data into ISEE.
I understand this process is new and different. In these first two years, it has been a challenge for districts to transition to this new system.
I have seen first-hand the challenges they are facing, and we are working on solutions.
Overall though, Superintendents, business managers and technology directors alike know the longitudinal data system is necessary and understand it will streamline processes and reduce workloads now and in the future.
This year, I am requesting additional funding to provide additional assistance to districts. This is in line with the original plan for deploying longitudinal data in Idaho
In 2008, I laid out a 3-year plan for our statewide longitudinal data system.
This plan eventually included $1.8 million in ongoing funding annually to maintain and operate this system once it was deployed.
Last year, the Legislature appropriated $926,200 of ongoing funds for personnel and operational costs now that ISEE has been fully deployed.
For FY2013, I am requesting an additional $873,800 in ongoing funds. This is the final request for personnel and operational support, bringing the total to $1.8 million.
This funding will be used to hire two Database Analysts who assist the Department and local districts in how to use the data available in ISEE effectively to inform instruction and policy decisions.
This will complement the six regional, full-time coordinators we already have in the field to give one-on-one support to schools on how to use ISEE.
Because of the level of data we now have available through ISEE, we also are able to give district administrators, school administrators and teachers access to current, accurate data on student attendance and student achievement.
For many years, this has been a dream for many of us. Now, it has become a realization.
With a $21 million grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, the state was able to contract with Schoolnet this year to deploy Phase II of ISEE – a statewide instructional management system.
In FY2013, the Department’s budget request includes $11.6 million in spending authority for the second year of this grant.
Through Schoolnet, teachers can access content standards, develop lesson plans, share best practices with other teachers in their district and statewide, and create assessments.
In addition, teachers will be able to analyze student progress at the end of a class or throughout the school year to individualize instruction and improve lesson plans, as needed.
The teachers, principals and other staff in every school district in Idaho can currently access content standards, lesson planning tools and digital content through Schoolnet right now.
In addition, we have 7 pilot districts across the state:
1. Cassia County
2. Lake Pend Oreille
4. New Plymouth
6. Sugar-Salem, and
7. North Star Charter School
Teachers in these pilots are able to use Schoolnet this year to create assessments in their school or classroom.
Barbara Thronson, the superintendent in Richfield, said her district is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Schoolnet.
She said: “Our teachers are confident that Schoolnet will help them raise student achievement and provide success for our students.”
These same assessment tools will be available statewide to additional schools and districts in the coming years.
The grant allowing access to the full suite of Schoolnet functionality was made available in November 2011.
The $11.6 million in funding for FY2013 will provide $2 million directly to local school districts.
The remainder of the money will provide access to Schoolnet, digital content, and professional development for schools and districts.
Through ISEE and now Schoolnet, we are giving all Idaho teachers and all administrators—not some, but all—the tools they need to make the best possible decisions for students.
I am excited about the possibilities both of these systems will bring in the coming years.
Now, let me transition and discuss my budget proposal for Idaho’s public schools.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS BUDGET
As I said before, I am pleased to be standing before you with positive news about our economy and a surplus in state revenues. The fact that we are in this positive situation is evidence that the tough decisions made by this body and this legislature the last 3 years were the right ones. Now, I know as well as you do that the surplus this year will not be a panacea for the struggles our schools have faced since the end of 2008, but I also know that our public schools will see an increase for first time in four years. And that’s welcome good news.
Just look at what we were able to accomplish when times were good.
In my first two years in office, we had surpluses and increased the budgets for Idaho’s public schools by 6% the first year and then nearly 4% the second.
We gave every teacher $350 to spend on classroom supplies.
We allocated $10 million in funding for textbooks across the state. We helped raise student achievement with $5 million in remediation funding for students who struggle.
We increased teacher base and minimum salaries by 3% in that first year and by 2.5% in the following year.
We also fully funded the salary grid in those years.
This gave those teachers who earned another year of experience or gained more education an additional salary increase of between 3.75% and 7.5%.
We implemented the Idaho Math Initiative to improve students’ knowledge and skills in math and enhanced professional development opportunities for math and elementary teachers.
Then, the economy took a turn for the worse. We entered a recession that has run deeper and longer than any of us could have imagined, taking a toll on almost every sector of our economy and families across Idaho. For fiscal year 2010, I stood before you and presented what I deemed the “10 Bad Ideas” for reducing the public schools budget.
Why? Because it was clear the Legislature had to make difficult decisions, so I worked with educational stakeholders to ensure we made strategic reductions that would do the least harm to our students in the classroom.
For fiscal year 2011, the economy was not getting better. In fact, it was getting worse. So I looked under every rock and shook every tree for more money for schools.
I went to the Land Board and fought for an additional $22 million in funding for our public schools.
We shifted another $5.5 million from my agency budget at the State Department of Education to minimize other cuts to public schools.
Last year, when our economy still had not turned around, it was clear that we were at a crossroads in education– both financially and academically.
Financially, we were facing a new normal in our economy. Public schools could no longer rely on tens of millions of new dollars each year just to maintain the status quo.
Academically, we had a good education system, but it was not keeping up with the fast-paced world around us.
In Idaho, the majority of our schools are making AYP (62%). That’s good.
Just eight states outperform Idaho students in reading, and 11 states outperform Idaho students in math. That’s good.
For every 100 students who attend public schools, 92% graduate from high school.
We have one of the highest graduation rates in the country.
All of this is good news. We have good schools in Idaho—some of the best in the country.
But that’s not the challenge; that’s not the question. The question is, in today’s world, is “good” good enough?
You see, while we have one of the highest graduation rates in the country, we have one of the lowest rates of number of students who go on to postsecondary education.
For every 100 students in Idaho, 92% graduate. But, only 46% go on to college or professional tech schools.
Once there, 40% of them need remediation. As a result, 38% do not go back for their 2nd year.
Because of this, only 34% of Idahoans have a postsecondary degree or certificate.
We also have to look at how Idaho compares to other countries, not just other states. This is who our children will be competing with.
Let’s look at the PISA, an international assessment that looks at multiple subject areas.
On the PISA, the U.S. ranks 49th in the world. But we don’t want to know just how the country ranks. We want to know how Idaho students rank. So we took this model and treated all 50 states as if they were their own country, folding them into this model to see how Idaho would compare to the rest of the world.
If Massachusetts were a country in and of itself, it would rank 17th in the world. Not bad. Minnesota would rank 20th. Pretty good. Idaho? 71st. 71st… So knowing this, what do we do? Do we have options?
Denial is one. It seems to be a popular choice and easy choice for many.
Another option is we could do nothing. It’s not an option I recommend, but it is an option.
We could celebrate the fact that with a 92% graduation rate we have one of the highest grad rates in the country and ignore the fact that only 46% go on to postsecondary education and nearly half of them need remediation once they get there. We could be satisfied that our students do well in reading and math when compared to other states across America and ignore the fact that we ranked 71st in an international comparison.
Or we could choose to do something. We could act instead of being acted upon.
This is what we chose to do last year.
We chose to set high academic standards that are comparable to any country in the world.
We chose to set high, achievable goals.
We chose to build a new education system that gives our teachers the tools, and our students the opportunities and access, they need to meet those goals and expectations.
To build this new system, we knew we could not expect or rely on ever increasing budgets. We had to look at what we were currently spending on education and be willing to spend it differently. We had to have a new education system—a system that could educate more students at a higher level with limited resources.
Based on these realities, the Governor and I presented – and this Legislature passed – Students Come First.
With your help, we now are implementing comprehensive education reform in Idaho.
This means that, for the first time in the history of Idaho, we will have a uniform system of education as required by our state constitution.
We have never been able to accomplish this before, but we are on a clear path to accomplishing it today.
When it comes to education reform, Idaho is not alone.
About 30 states passed some form of education reform last year. More states – like Maine, Louisiana, Tennessee, Iowa – are introducing education reform efforts this year.
There is a renaissance going on all across America in education. People have come to the realization that the status quo cannot continue, must not continue. Something has to change.
Idaho’s reform efforts were by far the most comprehensive.
While some states chose to deal with just collective bargaining or school choice or teacher pay or technology, Idaho addressed them all.
Because of your efforts, Idaho is now recognized as a leader in education reform. States are now calling us to learn more about our laws and how they can model them in their states.
Idaho is just a few months into implementing the reforms we have passed, but we are already seeing a positive impact on our schools and districts.
So let me walk you through my budget request for fiscal year 2013.
I will show you how the funding you passed last year is making a difference today and will be making a difference in the future.
You will see that this budget is in line with the budget estimates we provided to the Committee last year in passing Students Come First.
This budget request is in line with the Governor’s overall recommendation for public schools of a 4.7% general fund increase.
Most of this funding is statutorily required because of the Students Come First laws we passed last year.
This includes pay-for-performance for Idaho teachers and the implementation of one-to-one laptops for high school teachers and administrators.
The budget also includes funding for growth in student enrollment. I am happy to report that we have a solid estimate on growth for FY 2013, thanks to the implementation of ISEE.
We believe we will need $4 million for growth next year, down from the initial $12 million we anticipated in September.
In addition to this, I am making funding requests for salary-based apportionment and increased graduation requirements for the Class of 2013.
Now, let me walk you through my budget proposal for fiscal year 2013.
First, let’s discuss salary-based apportionment.
This budget provides funding for movement on the salary grid.
This means, for the second year in a row, many teachers will see salary increases of between 3.75% to 7.6% for another year of experience and gaining more education credits.
In addition, this budget proposal will offset the 2.38% adjustment in salary-based apportionment.
Last year, we put forward a plan to spend the money we currently have differently. But we always made the commitment to backfill salary-based apportionment if we had the revenues.
Currently, the law calls for 2.38% adjustment in salary-based apportionment, which is equal to about $19.4 million.
My budget will offset this adjustment by increasing base salaries by 2.38% for teachers and administrators.
For classified staff, I am requesting a 3% base salary increase because classified staff do not yet participate in pay-for-performance.
I want to be clear: With this budget, there will be NO DECREASE in state funding for teacher salaries in the upcoming school year.
I believe we have the revenues to accomplish this, and here is how we can do it.
Currently, the Governor’s budget puts $29 million into the Public Education Stabilization Fund. I believe this is important.
The Public Education Stabilization Fund, known as PESF, is a critical fund for our public schools. We have relied on it in these difficult economic times.
In 2009, when we first faced declining revenues, many people thought we should spend the entire fund of $115 million right away.
Instead, this Committee, the Legislature and the Governor chose to use this money prudently over the course of three years.
Now, this fund is largely depleted.
Last year, we deposited about $4 million into PESF, which means as of today the fund has a balance of about $15 million.
While I believe it is important to fund PESF now and in the future, I think it is more important to put funding into salary-based apportionment first.
Here is why: It is a timing issue.
School districts and the teachers they employ need to know the amount of money they will have for salaries by May.
This is when they sign contracts with teachers and begin the budgeting process for the upcoming school year.
They need a level of certainty about the budget as they move into this process.
But it’s not just about the budget. There are also other important operational and programmatic decisions that must be made.
This is why I recommend we put revenues toward salary-based apportionment first.
Then, if revenues continue to meet targets throughout the rest of the year, and we hit the triggers identified by the Governor, we can deposit these revenues into PESF. If we hit the triggers as outlined by the Governor, we will be at $44 million and well on our way to re-establishing an adequate rainy day fund.
I think this is consistent with the commitment we made last year. The last dollar cut would be the first dollar restored.
Again, with this budget increase, there will be NO DECREASE in teacher salaries in the upcoming school year.
What I’m saying is, if you are a district with a growing student population, the state will fund more teachers. If you are in a district where enrollment remains the same, you will be funded at the same number of teachers.
We are not cutting teaching positions to fund these reforms.
In fact, this budget proposal for FY 2013 will increase funding for teacher compensation. It fully funds movement on the salary grid. It offsets the adjustment in salary-based apportionment.
And it fully funds the $38 million in new money for pay-for-performance bonuses for Idaho teachers.
So let me talk to you for a moment about that.
As is statutorily required, this budget does include $38.8 million for pay-for-performance bonuses in addition to salaries in FY 2013.
Before this plan was in place, teachers could primarily earn money one way: based on the number of years they had taught and the amount of education they had.
This means if I am the greatest teacher in my district, and I’ve taught 8 years and have a master’s degree, I get paid the exact same amount as the least effective teacher in my district who has taught 8 years and has a master’s degree.
That’s not fair to the students in that district, and it’s definitely not fair to teachers.
Under this new plan, teachers will have the opportunity to receive up to $8,000 in bonuses above and beyond their salary and finally earn the recognition and financial rewards they deserve for the hard work they do each and every day.
There are three ways teachers can earn bonuses under pay-for-performance:
· Working in a school that shows academic growth or overall achievement
· Working in a hard-to-fill position, as determined by the local district
· Taking on a leadership duty, as determined by the local district
In FY 2013, teachers will first receive bonuses based on student achievement, primarily focusing on academic growth. The bonuses will be tied to student achievement goals developed at the state and local levels.
Next year, districts will work with teachers to develop local plans for rewarding hard-to-fill positions and leadership duties.
Last summer and fall, we worked with school districts across Idaho as they developed local plans to award teachers for reaching student achievement goals.
These plans contain goals aligned with each district’s mission and vision.
District Plans include multiple measures such as:
· Idaho Reading Indicator
· End of Course assessments
· Parent involvement
· SAT scores
· Graduation rates
I could go on…
This is one way in which we have expanded local control across Idaho.
With funding from the state, local districts now have the ability to reward their hard-working teachers for meeting their own local goals based on their students’ needs.
These pay-for-performance bonuses in FY 2013 will represent approximately a 5% increase in state funding for teacher compensation.
Let me repeat that.
Pay-for-performance will represent a 5% increase in state funding for teacher compensation next year.
And this plan is not just for a few. In fact, under this plan, we estimate at least 85% of teachers will earn a bonus.
This is great news for the State of Idaho, Idaho’s teachers and students.
Not only are we moving toward paying our teachers more this year, but we are paying them differently. We are paying them better.
This moves us away from the one-size-fits-all approach to paying teachers statewide.
While other states are continuing to cut teacher pay or keep it frozen year over year, we are rewarding our great teachers here in Idaho.
We are funding movement on the salary grid, we are maintaining funding for salaries, and, on top of that, we are going to give every teacher the opportunity to earn thousands of dollars in bonuses.
When it comes to pay-for-performance, we may not agree on every aspect of this plan, but the fact is every penny will go to Idaho educators.
Previously, we had an education system that made it almost impossible to financially reward great teachers and very difficult to deal with ineffective teaching.
If we want an education system that truly puts students first, we had to remove the barriers to both.
We have accomplished that.
I also want to clarify one other thing about the statewide pay-for-performance. I believe this Committee had questions about whether or not these bonuses would contribute to a teacher’s PERSI benefits. The answer is yes.
Third, as statutorily required, this budget includes ongoing funding for the Dual Credit for Early Completers Program at $842,000.
Through this program, students who complete state graduation requirements by the end of their junior year can earn up to 36 college credits in their senior year – paid for by the state.
Surprisingly, many students and parents are just now learning about this opportunity.
I talk about this program everywhere I go, and parents and students are excited when they hear about it.
We know this will provide great opportunities for our families and motivation for our students.
Many sophomores and juniors today are already getting ready to take part in the upcoming years. Even middle school parents are starting to plan for it now.
Over time, we know more and more students will take advantage of this opportunity as they strive to meet their state graduation requirements earlier and take advantage of this great opportunity.
Fourth, this budget includes continued funding and new funding to implement the high school graduation requirements passed in 2007.
Under these higher graduation requirements for the Class of 2013, students must take:
· 3 years of math
· 3 years of science
· A college entrance exam their junior year
· Complete a senior project
Previously, we heard from districts that some did not have the resources to implement these new requirements. That is why last year the state began providing additional funding to every district statewide.
Under the current budget, we will distribute $4.8 million to local school districts to help them hire new teachers or offer advanced courses online to meet the new math and science requirements.
We will continue to fund this in the upcoming fiscal year 2013.
This year, the Legislature also provided funding for students to meet the requirement to take a college entrance exam.
The state used this funding to sign a statewide contract with The College Board.
Through this contract, every high school junior can take the SAT or ACCUPLACER at no charge.
The State Department of Education put this contract out for bid, and we convened a group of educational stakeholders, including representatives of local school districts and higher education, to assist in reviewing the bid proposals.
The SAT was selected because it included more comprehensive tools for teachers and students, in addition to flexibility in the testing date.
For example, students will have the opportunity to take practice tests online to familiarize themselves with the SAT format and question types.
The SAT also has a writing component to the test which we believe is critical.
The SAT provides faster score reporting for students and access to online score reports.
In addition, students who need remediation can retest in their senior year under Idaho’s contract.
This is a critical step in building 21st century classroom and ensuring every student is prepared for the rigors of postsecondary education before they leave high school.
Since this is a graduation requirement now and in the future, we will continue to request the $963,500 in funding for this program.
Also, as part of the higher graduation requirements for the Class of 2013, seniors statewide must complete a senior project.
The senior project must include a written and oral report. The design of the project is left to each local school board to decide.
We are requesting $150,000 for districts to implement this requirement. This request is in line with the fiscal note the State Board of Education presented in 2007.
Fifth, as is statutorily required, this budget includes ongoing funding of $13.6 million for classroom technology.
This line item funds advanced technology that Idaho teachers and principals can use in all K-12 classrooms.
This is separate from the one-to-one laptop initiative in high schools, which I will discuss in a moment.
What this line item means is that for the second year in a row approximately $9 million will go to local school districts and public charter schools to purchase and implement advanced classroom technology.
This funding is used to make sure every classroom becomes a 21st Century Classroom.
Teachers will be able to use this technology to increase student engagement, raise academic achievement among all students, and make sure every student – no matter where they live – has equal access to educational opportunities.
Just as it is in every other part of our lives, we recognize that technology is no longer a “nice-to-have” tool in the classroom. It is an essential tool.
That is why this funding is ongoing and a part of statutory spending.
In September, we distributed nearly half of the $9 million for advanced classroom technology to Idaho schools.
This spring, we will distribute the other half.
The remainder of the $13 million will be used for statewide professional development for teachers to integrate technology into instruction. I will speak to that in a moment.
Let me first talk about how districts are spending the $9 million today.
We worked with local districts throughout November and December helping them create local plans for how they could use technology in the classroom to raise student achievement and provide equal access to all students.
We received great plans from all across the state.
· The West Bonner School District will invest in digital cameras in all grades to incorporate photography into schoolwork. Students in elementary school will use iPods to improve language and math skills.
· In Meridian, the district found that not every classroom had equal access to digital content or interactive learning technologies. So they are using this funding to remedy that. The district will purchase projectors and document cameras for every classroom to ensure equal access.
· In Caldwell, the district reviewed instructional data to determine the level of student engagement and how technology is being used in every classroom. They found a common theme: Those classrooms with interactive technology had higher levels of student engagement, which we know leads to higher student achievement. Classrooms with little or no interactive technology had lower student engagement. Knowing this, the district is working to install interactive technology in every classroom.
· In Clark County, the district has recognized that technology can help increase the time teachers spend with students and reduce the time teachers spend on paperwork. The district will use this funding at the elementary level to buy tablets to assist teachers in classroom organization, grading, and lesson planning. They will also use it to analyze student achievement data.
These are just some of the great and innovative plans that will begin to create 21st Century Classrooms in every school in every corner of the state.
What I like about these plans is that each of these plans is locally developed and clearly demonstrates the important role the teacher in the classroom plays in effectively implementing technology.
All along I have said, and I strongly believe, the teacher is the most important factor in a student’s academic success.
So as we transition to the 21st Century Classroom, we must give our highly effective teachers – not some but all of our highly effective teachers – the 21st Century classroom tools they need to individualize instruction and raise achievement for every student.
We know this works because we see it working in schools right here in Idaho and in schools across the United States.
Look at Rigby High School in Jefferson County.
Rigby High is home to Stefani Cook, our 2011 Idaho Teacher of the Year.
She has been instrumental in integrating technology in her classroom and opening up a world of opportunities for her students.
If you walk into Rigby High School, you will see teachers effectively using technology in the classroom.
Not just one technology, but many different kinds of technology:
· Interactive smart boards
· Document cameras
Students are engaged in learning throughout the day with their netbooks, digital cameras, and sometimes even their own cell phones, which are used in the classroom as part of the lesson.
Stefani told me that her fellow teachers have a collective goal: to create a generation of students who thrive on creativity and problem-solving skills enhanced by technology – a culture where students look for meaning and relevance by building connections with the “real” world.
This is why students and staff alike embrace technology at Rigby High.
And we as a state are now supporting the goals they have been working toward for several years.
These opportunities cannot be limited to just a few fortunate ones. I want every student in every part of Idaho to have the same opportunities as the students at Rigby High.
We have already created the foundation for this through the Idaho Education Network (IEN).
Through the IEN, every Idaho high school is now connected to high-speed broadband internet access and has at least one classroom set up for virtual education.
Now, for the first time ever, we have the real possibility of providing a uniform system of education for all schools in our state.
To this end, we will begin phasing in a one-to-one ratio of students and teachers to laptops in September.
This budget includes $2.5 million to provide a laptop to every high school teacher in Idaho and the necessary software, maintenance, security and support to go along with it.
Next September, every high school teacher, principal, media specialist and technology director will receive the devices and a year of intensive professional development.
In the following year, the first one-third of students will begin receiving access to these devices.
As you know, the Technology Task Force created by this legislation met for 7 months to develop recommendations for the rollout of mobile computing devices, among other recommendations.
They made many recommendations, which I will report on in more detail next week.
One of their recommendations was that we roll these devices out to one-third of students by school, rather than by grade, statewide.
The Task Force learned from other states and school districts that already have a 1:1 program that it is not prudent to deploy devices in a school when only some students have the device and not others.
If this happens, a teacher may have some students in a classroom with devices and others without. Experience shows that, in that case, the teacher will likely just say, “Everyone close the devices,” and go on with the lesson.
To avoid this situation and ensure successful implementation, the Task Force recommended deploying devices in the first year to Idaho high schools representing one-third of the students statewide, or about 27,000 students.
In Fall 2014, we will deploy devices to the second one-third of schools. In Fall 2015, we will deploy to the final one-third of schools.
To determine the first one-third of schools to receive devices, we asked local school districts and charter schools to submit letters of interest to the state if they have high schools interested in being in the first one-third.
These letters must be signed by the superintendent or the school board chair and must be received by February 17.
We have been overwhelmed by the response we have received so far.
We sent the memo to districts just before 6 p.m. on January 5. We received the first letter of interest back in less than 90 minutes.
As of yesterday, we have 73 letters of interest representing 139 schools and more than 57,000 students statewide.
This represents two-thirds of high school students across Idaho – over twice as many as we planned to deploy in the first round.
It is clear that teachers, principals, parents and students are not hesitant but are excited about the laptops and want to participate now, not later.
In Idaho Falls, for example, they said there would be “a high probability of parental discord” if deployment was delayed to all the high schools in their district.
In Twin Falls, the superintendent wrote to us, saying: “Based on a staff survey …, we are enthusiastically requesting to participate in the first third of the state’s high schools regarding deployment of the one-to-one mobile computing devices at all three of our high schools.”
Here’s why everyone is excited:
They recognize that this device becomes the textbook in every classroom, the calculator in math, the research tool in science, the word processor in English, and it’s the portal to a world of information and knowledge.
As you may remember this was one of the most hotly contested pieces of Students Come First last year, but it is clear now that the demand for this classroom technology is out there and an overwhelming majority of our schools want these devices.
Students, parents and teachers want this technology, and they want it soon.
In fact, every one of you has schools in your legislative districts that have requested to be part of the first one-third.
I encourage school districts to continue to submit their letters of interest until February 17 if they are interested in participating.
Providing the technology, whether it is 1:1 or document cameras or interactive whiteboards, what we know from study after study is that technology alone is not the answer. It’s all about implementing technology effectively.
Look at Project RED. If you put any technology in the classroom, it will have an impact.
But if you implement it effectively, it will have a significant impact on student achievement.
So now let me talk to you about effective professional development.
Last year, you and your fellow legislators appropriated historic amounts of money for professional development.
There is nearly $4 million a year built into this budget for professional development statewide to integrate technology into the classroom – from one-to-one devices to interactive whiteboards to iPods and iPads.
This money is built permanently into the funding formula now.
Why? Because we recognize professional development is a critical, ongoing need.
For that reason, this is not one-time money but ongoing funding.
Professional development will not focus on how to turn on the device, but how to use this device in the classroom, to integrate it into everything that happens in the classroom and how teachers can engage every student every day.
A subcommittee of the Technology Task Force was charged with developing a plan for implementing professional development statewide, and they made several recommendations in December.
Their recommendations included:
· Releasing an RFI for professional development for classroom technology integration
· More time for professional development in the school calendar
· The SDE developing a multi-year comprehensive professional development plan that encompasses all initiatives and professional development efforts, including technology
After receiving these recommendations, the Department has begun to develop the statewide professional development plan for the advanced classroom technology and implementation of 1:1 devices.
The state will use a blended model that combines both face-to-face and online methods of professional development for teachers, administrators and technology coordinators.
First, we will establish regional training teams of administrators, teachers and technology coordinators to provide professional development and support to schools in implementing classroom technology at all grade levels.
Stipends will be made available for these team members.
Next, the state will identify a lead teacher and technology coordinator at every high school who will not only learn how to integrate one-to-one devices and other classroom technology effectively, but will become in-house experts and take the lead in providing training to other teachers in their building.
Stipends will also be made available for these leads.
However, not all learning opportunities will be provided face-to-face.
School personnel, parents and students will all have access to a variety of tools that will be available to them online at any time they need assistance.
This will all be possible because of the ongoing funding for professional development.
Because of this historic investment in professional development by the state, other organizations have been inspired to provide additional support for teachers, principals and administrators.
Boise State University, for example, recently received a $4 million grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation to create the Idaho Leads Project.
This is a new statewide effort to provide intensive professional development to local educators as they work to innovate in our schools and help students achieve at even higher levels.
Sixth, I propose that in FY 2013, we increase discretionary funds by 2%.
We know these discretionary funds can assist our local school districts in many ways.
Finally, I support additional funding for IT professionals in our local school districts.
Last year, when we presented Students Come First, we heard concerns about the amount of tech support that might be necessary at the local level.
This was one of the points the Technology Task Force addressed.
In December, they came forward with their recommendation for additional funding to support IT professionals in the effective integration of technology into teaching and learning.
To follow through on this recommendation of the task force, I am now requesting $2.5 million in additional funding for IT professionals.
This is my proposal for the FY 2013 budget for Idaho’s public schools.
Let me remind you why this request is slightly different than the budget request you saw in September.
First, this budget meets the Governor’s budget recommendation rolled out during his State of the State address.
Second, we now know we do not need as much funding for growth in enrollment. That funding now can be spent differently.
Third, this budget includes funding for recommendations made by the Technology Task Force, which finished its work in December.
Through this budget, we are able to fund growth and fully fund the Students Come First reform efforts – advanced classroom technology for every classroom, pay-for-performance for teachers, dual credit for our high school seniors and the initial implementation of one-to-one devices in Idaho high schools.
And we will not reduce the amount of money we send to districts for teacher and administrator pay.
In fact, because of that and the state’s new pay-for-performance plan, we will actually increase compensation for our teachers by 5% in the coming year.
Overall, this budget request will increase the General Fund for public schools by 4.7%.
As I travel across the state, I talk with more and more teachers, students and parents who are excited about where our education system is headed.
Teachers in other states hear that Idaho is putting money into teacher pay and classroom technology, rather than making cuts, and are excited about the opportunities our state will provide.
I tell them there is not a more exciting time to be involved in public education, and that Idaho is on the forefront of education reform in our nation.
Finally, we have chosen a path that leads us to an education system that assures that all children, no matter where they live, no matter what their family situation, have equal opportunity and access.
An education system that can change quickly and adapt to keep up with the ever-changing world we live in. An education system where not only every student graduates from high school but goes on to college, professional-technical education, or the workforce, and arrives without the need for remediation.
That’s when we will know our education system is meeting the needs of all our students.
That’s when we will have an education system where every child has the opportunity to live the American Dream like you and I do today.