Idaho voters rejected the state’s merit pay plan for teachers when they said no to Proposition 2 this week. However, many schools and teachers have earned bonuses for work over the last year, during which the Students Come First laws were in place.
Now, whether or not that money will get into teachers’ hands is uncertain.
This much we know: the state is legally obligated to send bonus money to school districts by November 15. Idaho’s secretary of state has said that for weeks, and the state’s attorney general agrees. The money has to go out even though voters rejected the law, because the law remains in place until election results are certified on Nov. 21.
What remains unclear is what becomes of the bonus money once it reaches school districts. The law gives schools about a month to distribute the money to teachers. But once the law is gone, do districts even have the authority to give it out?
The attorney general’s office is now formulating an opinion on that question, based on a request from schools superintendent Tom Luna. As recently as September, Luna said he wants teachers to get the money if it’s legal for them to receive it.
A spokesman for the attorney general says they don’t know when the opinion will be ready. What’s more, it may not be public when it is complete.
In the meantime, the Boise School District doesn’t have a plan for what to do with the money. “We’re waiting to see what the attorney general has to say,” district spokesman Dan Hollar said.