State Board reviewing more than 100 master educator premium applications

State officials will review 114 master educator premium applications as part of an appeals process playing out over the coming weeks.

The process comes after 102 teachers appealed the initial decisions related to the premiums. Additionally, state officials discovered that 12 other application portfolios may have been disqualified because of an error tied to the state’s data system, the Idaho System for Educational Excellence, State Board of Education spokesman Mike Keckler said Tuesday.

Keckler wants to be clear that teachers participating in the appeal process will receive the full $4,000 premium if they met the criteria but were improperly denied earlier.

“The funding is there,” Keckler said.

Educators who appealed their premium decision before the end of October, as well as those affected by the ISEE issue, should receive an email by the end of the week confirming that their portfolio is in the cue for scoring.

“We’re taking this appeals process seriously and we appreciate the patience people have shown throughout this process,” Keckler said. “This was the inaugural year, and we are going to take what we learned and use what we learned to make the process smoother next year.”

The State Board hopes to review all of the portfolios and complete the appeals process by the end of the first week of January, Keckler said.

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Created by the Legislature, master educator premiums are a first-year program designed to reward the state’s most effective veteran teachers with a $4,000 annual financial incentive called a “premium.” Under state law, the program is renewable for three years once a teacher meets the criteria, meaning successful premiums are ultimately worth $12,000 to a teacher.

On Oct. 1, the State Board announced that 1,226 of the 1,405 Idaho teachers who applied for the premiums will receive the bonus.

But the process was marked by delays and frustration.

Some teachers reported that the process for developing an application portfolio took 80-120 hours. The time-consuming process discouraged some educators, including 2019 teacher of the year Marc Beitia, from even applying.

Originally, the State Board estimated that 8,000-10,000 Idaho teachers met the application requirements, which included eight years of teaching experience. That means thousands of teachers who were likely eligible didn’t apply.

Of those who received a premium, 54 percent of the recipients teach in either the Boise or West Ada school district.

Paying for any premiums that are overturned via appeal shouldn’t be a problem. The Legislature appropriated $7.2 million to pay for this year’s installments of the premiums. Based on the original report that 1,226 educators earned a premium, the cost would have only come to about $4.9 million. Even if all 114 premiums screened during the appeals process result in a premium, that will only add $456,000 to the cost.

Christina Linder, who is working with the State Board for the appeals process, said educators who don’t receive a confirmation email by the end of this week may email the State Board ([email protected]) with “Attn: MEP Appeals” written in the subject line.

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