Upon passage of the $26 billion education jobs bill, the Idaho Education Association (IEA) praised Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick for voting for the measure, and slammed Rep. Mike Simpson for opposing the bill.  The IEA claimed at that time that the federal education money – which Idaho has since found out will amount to $51 million – would save 900 jobs in the state.

That means that as students return to school, 900 teachers or staffers who otherwise would have lost their jobs are also returning?  Not exactly.

Sherri Wood, head of the IEA, explained that the number of jobs saved was based on a mathematical formula provided by the federal government.  To determine the figure, Wood said, take the average salary of an Idaho teacher and use that amount to divide the total allocation of federal dollars for the state, which stands at $51 million.  Do the math and it equals out to be 900 jobs saved with each teacher or staffer making about $56,000 annually.

But that kind of equation might be erroneous, given statistics of teacher pay in the state.  According a 2009 Idaho Department of Labor wage survey, experienced teachers in the state average anywhere from $39,000 to $51,000 each year.  Those figures also don’t account for the cost of teacher benefits, which can also be funded with federal education dollars.

School districts also weren’t planning mass layoffs to deal with budget shortages, either.  As schools contemplated how to cope with the $128 million public education cut handed down by the Idaho Legislature, a myriad of tactics were used to save money.  Some schools opted to cut transportation funding, while others chose to increase the fees required to participate in sporting activities.  Others cut teacher and administrator pay across the board and some chose to nix field trips, school supply purchases, or move to a four-day school week.  A report from the Idaho Statesman points out that because of the way in which the education budget was crafted by state lawmakers, schools were unable to eliminate teaching positions.  If they did, they would have faced greater reductions in state funding.

There will be teacher losses in one form or another, says Wood.  “There are teachers who are retiring or leaving school districts who won’t be replaced,” Wood said.  “That will increase class sizes, particularly in rural parts of the state, and we think that’s bad for kids.”  It is unknown how many open positions will be left unfilled across the state, but one of the larger districts, Boise School District, has eliminated 60 positions, via a combination of teachers, administrators, and support staff.

So where will the federal education money go, if not to save 900 jobs?  Meridian School District, the largest in the state, will use $4.1 of its $5.9 million to restore unpaid teacher furlough days.  Other districts will are taking different routes with the money. Nampa School District has yet to officially decide how to spend it, but one school board member says he would like to see the money saved for a year to prevent job losses in the 2011 school year if state tax revenues don’t ramp up.  Boise, like Meridian, is considering replacing three unpaid furlough days set for the week of Thanksgiving.  It is also may consider hiring back some of the 60 employees laid off.

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About The Author

Dustin Hurst serves as the Communication Director for the Idaho Freedom Foundation. He graduated from Boise State in 2009. His work has been featured by Fox News, Townhall, Public Sector Inc., the Daily Caller, Reason, Human Events, the Spokesman Review and more. He and his wonderful wife Julia have two cute kids. The family resides in Middleton.


  1. Great Article. It’s amazing the spin that some people (IEA) put out.

  2. Sheri baby, some would say “Wood is a union hack that has no focus on whats good for kids, she’s only there for union money.” or maybe “when did the union ever do anything for kids? Its always been about getting more money for fewer hours worked for teachers”.

    Well baby, you keep coming up with those fuzzy math numbers and keep their heads turning. I will keep printing money to keep you and my ladies happy, you just remember (like always) “who’s your daddy!”

  3. […] Pennsylvania and Idaho join the list of the awakened. […]

  4. I know one school in the north with 30 teachers didn’t plan on losing any positions. When the original stimulus package came out, the formula mandated by the feds resulted in 44 jobs saved or created. When the media talk about “errors” in computing jobs saved, they ought to be talking about the intentional manipulation of data for (could it be?) political purposes.

  5. In the meantime, CWI is putting private trade schools out of business with its subsidized workforce development courses without determining if there is a demand for the courses that exceeds local ability to satisfy it. They use your property tax dollars to do it, too. They don’t even offer college credit to their students for these courses.

  6. I am one of those who lost their job in education despite an excellent performance evaluation. I was an elementary librarian. I was the last hire in my building. I am not a certified teacher, but a paraprofessional, therefore an at-will employee not subject to the last hire rule of union employees. They replaced me with a classroom Educational Assistant that had never worked in the library before. My principal and staff begged the district to keep me. The district currently has no plans to re-hire any classified (non-teachers) staff with the federal education jobs bill money. The class sizes are up, the the school is short one EA as she is now trying to run a library and yet the district wants to “save” the money for next year.

    There may not have been many teachers who were laid off, but there were plenty of teachers who were not replaced if they retired or left for another reason. There were also plenty of support staff employees who lost their jobs – EA’s, custodians, office staff – these are all included in the federal education jobs bill as people who should be re-hired. Students are not getting the education they should be because there are not enough people to ensure that each student gets the time they need with their teacher.
    It is a disgrace.

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