State to notify master educator premium applicants Monday

The 1,400-plus Idaho educators who applied for a salary incentive known as master educator premiums have just one more weekend of wondering and waiting before learning whether they will receive the money.

The State Board of Education will send out word some time Monday evening.

“On Monday evening, on or before midnight, MEP applicants will be notified via email whether they qualified for the premium or not,” State Board spokesman Mike Keckler said Thursday afternoon. “We will release the final numbers the following day, Oct. 1.”

Once applicants are notified, money will be sent to the recipients’ schools and distributed via local payroll systems, state officials have said.

The new master educator premiums are designed to reward Idaho’s highest-performing veteran teachers. The state is providing $4,000 per year — renewable for three years — to educators who meet the program’s requirements.

In order to obtain a premium, educators must have at least eight years of classroom experience and submit a detailed portfolio documenting evidence of mastery.

Some educators have said they devoted 80 to 120 hours to organizing their portfolios and completing the application.

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It appears thousands of eligible Idaho educators, including 2019 Teacher of the Year Marc Beitia, did not apply for the premiums. The State Board estimated 8,000 to 10,000 educators probably met the state’s application requirements, but only 1,405 teachers applied.

Educators had to turn in their applications and portfolios in July.

Originally, State Board officials hoped to notify applicants by Sept. 1. But the state ran into delays as the new school year approached. About 300 applications had to undergo a third evaluation after the first two evaluators disagreed over whether the applicant should receive a premium.

State Board officials also said they needed to review whether all application materials met the state’s timeframe.

“This was a challenging process, as is any inaugural process that is launched,” Keckler said. “Applicants and evaluators have been very patient throughout this, and there have been a few bumps along the way.

“We learned a lot this year, and we will take what we learned and apply that next year,” Keckler continued.

Keckler stressed that the state wasn’t contractually obligated to notify applicants by the end of September. Instead, he said, it just so happens that the completion of the process falls on the final day of the month.

Members of Gov. Brad Little’s “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” K-12 education task force have debated the effectiveness of the premiums and could recommend tweaks to the program.

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