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State education officials visit the Lower Valley

Part of the 2015 Post Legislative Tour, Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra and other state education department officials stopped at Pocatello and spoke with local educators.

The point of the tour is to break down the current legislative session’s decisions regarding education. Ybarra and her staff spoke in front of a packed room of superintendents, business managers and other education interest groups.

She started this leg of the tour by stressing she’s still dedicated to creating policy driven by local needs, and that she and her staff had a goal in mind since she swore in this past January.

“A focus of the state department this year is attracting and retaining the best and the brightest, as well as keeping the best and brightest in the field that’s been around,” Ybarra said.

The recently passed career ladder law was meant to do just that, but she says there’s still a lot more to do.

She said, “There are many things that go into attracting and retaining our good educators for our students in Idaho and although money is a piece of that– also raising the profession is a huge piece of that as well.”

The career ladder is designed to give all of the Gem State’s teachers a raise over the next five years. Tom VanDeren, president of the Pocatello Education Association, said he does think the law brings good things to the table, but still has reservations about the matter.

“We’re still below where we were in 2008 and 2009, which is a concern,” he said. “It’s not a big selling point for someone coming out-of-state.”

In the career ladder part of the presentations, deputy assistant superintendent Tim Hill said the department is still working on the worksheets for districts to use when determining career ladder pay.

The next stop of the tour is Burley on Thursday. The tour will wrap up next week on Tuesday in Lewiston.

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