BOISE - The five-year law aimed at boosting teacher pay in Idaho has helped pushed average statewide salaries past $51,000 a year.
The 2019-20 average in Idaho is $51,691, according to records obtained by Idaho Education News from the State Department of Education.
The average statewide salary is up $7,486, or nearly 17 percent, since the career-ladder salary law went into effect in 2015, when average salaries were $44,205.
The pay hikes have garnered sturdy support in the Statehouse since the law’s implementation, with K-12 state budgets — and $250 million in combined payouts tied to the law — sailing through the Legislature every year.
As a result, most districts have seen notable increases since 2015. In the Lewiston school district, teacher salaries have increased 19.7% since 2014-15, jumping from $48,369 to $57,916. Culdesac school district has seen one of the biggest increases across all of the state, jumping up 34.6% during the span. In 2014-15, the average salary was $34,993, and this school year it is $47,106.
Some other local district average salary increases include: Genesee (15.9% increase from $54,167 to $62,799), Lapwai (18.7% increase from $46,981 to $55,755), Orofino (12.4% increase from $45,564 to $51,212), Cottonwood (16.1% increase from $43,629 to $50,671), Kendrick (12.5% increase from $44,644 to $50,221), Nezperce (6.5% increase from $45,966 to $48,932), Kamiah (15.9% increase from $41,569 to $48,197), and Potlatch (11.7% increase from $45,617 to $50,962).
However, a few districts have also seen average salaries drop. The Prairie school district saw a 12.3% decrease in salary from 2014-15 to 2019-20. Averages dropped from $45,052 to $39,500. Prairie is currently the only district in the state with an average salary still below $40,000. Fort Hall-based Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy’s number slipped from $48,509 in 2014-15 to $43,600 this school year.
Fluctuation is no surprise. Seventy percent of districts or charters currently utilize the career ladder — up from about half in 2016-17, according to an EdNews analysis.
The law also targets pay increases for teachers at earlier stages of their careers — an effort to curb attrition and attract more teachers to the field. Governor Brad Little wants to increase starting teacher salaries to $40,000 next year — and has proposed spending $7.7 million to complete a two-year plan to boost minimum salaries.