Rural teacher incentive program will take applications by the end of September

Teach in a rural or economically disadvantaged district and you could receive $12,000 over four years for continuing education, additional certifications, or even subsidized housing.

Suddenly, those job openings look a bit more attractive – or that’s the hope, anyway.

Applications for the rural teacher incentive program, a bill passed into law last spring, will open by the end of the month.

Matt Freeman

The $750,000 available this year is enough to provide incentives for 500 teachers. Once applications start rolling in, the State Board of Education will use a rubric to determine which teachers will receive the money.

Those selected will receive $1,500 after the first year, $2,500 after their second year, $3,500 after the third, and $4,500 after the fourth. The funds can be used for “additional degrees, advanced degrees, career technical certifications, or other educational expenses.”

The funds can also be used to pay off student loans. But in light of a recently announced federal loan forgiveness program, teachers will likely opt to use their allocations to cover other expenses, State Board executive director Matt Freeman said .

The program’s funding will increase each year to $1.2 million, then $2.75 million, then $4.1 million, before plateauing out to $3 million each year. After this inaugural year of the program (when 500 teachers will be selected), 250 teachers will be added into the program each year thereafter.

Ultimately, the program would support about 1,000 teachers each year.

Rep. Sally Toone, R-Gooding, and Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, co-sponsored the bill to help underserved districts recruit and retain teachers.

“Schools are the center of our rural communities,” Toone told EdNews in March. “And it’s our duty to promote that community livelihood.”

Carly Flandro

Carly Flandro

Carly Flandro reports from her hometown of Pocatello. Prior to joining EdNews, she taught English at Century High and was a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. She has won state and regional journalism awards, and her work has appeared in newspapers throughout the West. Flandro has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and Spanish from the University of Montana, and a master’s degree in English from Idaho State University. You can email her at [email protected] or call or text her at (208) 317-4287.

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