The State Board of Education selected 449 recipients out of 764 applicants to receive $12,000 in Rural and Underserved Educator Program grant funds over a four-year period.
Created by the Legislature last year to help address a teacher shortage in rural and underserved communities, the program has $750,000 allocated for the year-one cohort. Funds can be used for student loans or other eligible educational expenses.
Award letters were emailed to the selected applicants Wednesday, the State Board said. The first recipients had the highest number of points from a rubric that assesses three criteria: degrees of “rurality,” serving in a “separate” school, and a measurement of “economic disadvantage.”
The “separate” criteria considers a school’s proximity to other schools in the same district serving the same grades.
To learn more about the scoring rubric, click here.
State officials are working to verify educational loan information and current eligible expenses submitted by the applicants. Eligible expenses include costs to obtain additional degrees, career technical certifications, course and lab fees, books, and course equipment, the State Board said.
After the initial applications have been verified and processed, 51 more educators will be selected and notified as part of the first cohort. The program only has funding for 500 awards in year one.
“The program creates an incentive for educators to work and stay in rural and high-need school districts and charters where it is often difficult to recruit and retrain new teachers,” the State Board said.
Those selected will receive four years’ worth of incentives — if still employed by the same district — totaling $1,500 the first year, $2,500 the second year, $3,500 the third year, and $4,500 in the final year.
The program expects to add 250 new teachers each year. Interested teachers can apply on July 1 for the second cohort group. The State Board estimates that there are 2,000 eligible teachers who work in rural or underserved districts.
Mike Keckler, the State Board spokesperson, said, “We have enough funding to cover the first year of the first cohort. The Legislature will have to appropriate funding for the second year of the first cohort, and for the first year of the second cohort. Funding is appropriated annually.”
Education-related funding decisions are covered closely by EdNews’ senior reporter Kevin Richert. Check his daily stories and blogs for updates about funding decisions during the current legislative session.