Teacher bonuses could be announced next week

State Board of Education officials are hopeful they can notify recipients of the new master educator premium salary incentives next week.

On Thursday, State Board spokesman Mike Keckler said officials are waiting on “just a handful” of portfolios that were sent to third-party evaluators for scoring.

“We’ve got the rest back and as soon as we get scores, we will notify all of those who have submitted,” Keckler said. “We’re very close. I anticipate, unless we have problems, that we will be letting folks know next week.”

The master educator premiums are a new salary incentive designed to reward Idaho’s best veteran teachers. Educators who receive the premium will receive $4,000 per year, an amount renewable for three years. That would bring the total value of the premiums to $12,000.

About 1,400 educators applied for the premium, with some devoting 100 to 120 hours to assembling their application portfolio and filling it with artifacts documenting evidence of mastery. Thousands of teachers who could have met the basic criteria, including eight years of classroom experience, did not apply based on the State Board’s estimate that 8,000-10,000 teachers could have been eligible.

State Board officials originally hoped to award the premiums by Sept. 1. But the process was delayed. Reviewers were split on about 300 applications, with one reviewer recommending a premium and a second reviewer recommending against it. In other cases, bad links left some of the state’s reviewers waiting for portfolios to review. The State Board ended up hiring two temporary employees to finish the job.

As State Board officials notify educators they will send a master list of recipients to the State Department of Education, Keckler said. The SDE will distribute the bonus money to school districts, which will then add the money to a recipient’s normal salary.

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Earlier this year, the Legislature approved $7.2 million in state funding to pay for the premiums. Based on 1,400 applicants, the state has more than enough funding on hand to pay for everyone who earns a master educator premium this year.

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