The measure won lawmakers' approval despite opposition from schools and the teachers union.

The governor signed into law Friday the centerpiece of a major education reform plan that shifts money from salaries to fund new technology and teacher merit pay.

The final piece of the plan authored by schools chief Tom Luna also bumps up the minimum salary of teachers from $29,655 to $30,000 a year. Read “Ed tech vs. larger class sizes: Worth the trade-off?

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter hailed Republican lawmakers who helped secure passage of the biggest piece of the reform effort.

“I just want to thank everybody that has worked so hard, withstood the onslaught of misinformation that got out there, and kept their eye on the ball,” said Otter, also a Republican.

The sweeping changes were surrounded by contentious debate during the 2011 session, with teachers and students protesting in and around the Capitol. The reforms are now the target of a referendum campaign led by parents and representatives from the statewide teachers union who want to overturn the changes.

“There are a lot of people that still need to be convinced and still need to understand why this reform is so important,” Otter said. “There are those that want us to fail. We’re not going to fail. We’re going to push this education package, this reform, until it meets the needs of our future work force.”

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The reform measure won lawmakers’ approval despite opposition from school trustees, administrators and the teachers union over the provision that shifts money from salaries.