Two legislators in Idaho introduced a bill that would forgive student loans for teachers in the state’s rural school districts, according to the Idaho State Legislature.

Representatives Sally Toone and Paulette Jordan made the announcement on Wednesday, detailing a program that would hopefully entice teachers to accept jobs in rural areas of the state. The legislation would pay up to $12,000 in student loan debt over a four-year period.

Toone, a retired teacher, pointed out that many of the schools in District 26, which includes Blaine, Lincoln, Camas and Gooding counties, often have a difficult time finding qualified teachers. The areas are at an economic disadvantage and suffer from low student achievement. This bill would offer new teachers an incentive to come into the area and help mold young minds.

While Idaho currently has a program called career ladder, which is a five-year plan to increase teacher pay, Toone says it’s simply not enough to entice well-qualified teachers to come into these rural areas.

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The scope and size of the legislation is unclear right now because it will be up to the state’s Department of Education to determine which schools are eligible. But according to Toone, almost half of the state’s school districts could qualify.

The bill has been co-sponsored by every House and Senate Democrat, but hasn’t officially been introduced. Toone is hoping it will be granted a hearing soon. So far, not one Republican has signed on in support of it.

House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, said he didn’t know anything about the bill and would need more information before voicing his support or opposition for it.

 

image copyright Jimmy Emerson, DVM