DES MOINES — The state will cough up an extra $314 per student to Iowa school districts so they can raise teacher salaries and provide bonuses their top teachers.
And it will leave thousands of dollars — in a few cases more than $1 million — left over for school districts to use in specified ways.
However, seven districts — mostly smaller, rural districts – won’t receive enough money from the state to cover the cost of adopting the program.
Those districts will have to look at partnering with neighboring districts or the local Area Education Agency to figure out a solution, Iowa Department of Education officials said at a news conference Monday.
“It has been said that the devil is in the details, well, here are the details,” Department of Education Director Jason Glass said.
He shared a spreadsheet showing how each district in the state would fare under the proposal, which is the centerpiece of Gov. Terry Branstad’s education reform proposal.
Glass said the state intends to spend $148.5 million over the next four years to roll out the program. This money is separate from other state aid to schools.
The money would be used to:
• Raise teacher salaries to a minimum of $35,000.
• Create a class of model teachers who receive a $2,000 stipend and work an additional five days a year. These teachers spend 100 percent of their time in the classroom, and at least 10 percent of the district’s teachers could receive the designation.
• Create a class of mentor teachers who receive a $5,000 stipend, have 10 extra days and would split their time 75 percent in the classroom and 25 percent out of it mentoring others. At least 10 percent of teachers would be mentors.
• Create a class of lead teachers who receive an additional $10,000 and split their time 50-50 between classroom and administration. They have an extra 15 days on their contract and would be at least 5 percent of the district’s teaching force.
Additional money from the $314 per student allocation could be used to increase the number of pathways in a school or district, hire additional staff and/or increase the stipends the teachers receive.
Glass said it would be up to districts how to decide that additional allocation, but it could only be spent in those ways outlined in the legislation.
“I think it’s pretty interesting and compelling, quite honestly,” said Tom Downs, executive director of the Iowa Association of School Boards, who sat in the audience during the news conference. “I still have some questions about those seven districts and what they’re going to have to do to partner.”
Mary Jane Cobb, executive director of the Iowa Education Association, also attended the news conference. She said there are still some questions she needs answered.
“I think that they did a good job in looking at some of the costs, one of things I have to look at is when they talk about a salary supplement and then additional days, whether or not that salary supplement would be equal to a teacher’s per diem,” she said.