Friday, September 21, 2012

Luna: "Uncertainty" Still Surrounds Merit Pay Distribution

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 3:11 PM

For Idaho teachers, a major question looms over the upcoming vote to confirm or repeal Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s “Student’s Come First” reforms: If they repeal it, will they lose the teacher performance bonuses coupled to the reform? 

If reforms were repealed, the worry was, the district would not have legal authority to give out their bonuses.

Recent newspaper stories may have made them feel a little bit better, saying that no matter what happens on the Nov. 6 election, the merit-pay law would still be in effect on Nov. 15 (the deadline for the bonuses to be distributed) since the election wouldn’t be completely certified until Nov. 21.

But, wait, not so fast says Luna. This afternoon, he sent out a message to districts informing them that things were still uncertain.

“You may have seen something in the media that pay-for-performance bonuses will be issued regardless of the votes on Proposition 2. This is the media’s conclusion on an issue of law that has not been decided by an Idaho court,”  Luna wrote. “There is no legal precedent in Idaho on this issue. Therefore, we have been in consultation with the Attorney General’s office on whether the State can distribute bonus monies to the school districts should voters reject pay-for-performance.”

No matter what, he says, he wants those bonuses to be distributed, but the legal hurdles are still undetermined.

“The issues are far more complicated than the press has portrayed. We never want to promise Idaho teachers they are going to receive bonuses if, for some reason, we are legally unable to pay them,” Luna wrote. “We will continue to work with the Attorney General’s office on this issue, and I remain committed to doing everything legally possible to ensure teachers receive these bonuses.”

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About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, Daniel Walters is the Inlander's senior investigative reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...