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This year’s bonuses could hit teachers’ pockets in time for Christmas

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Originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on November 17, 2021

The State Department of Education plans to dole out about $8.5 million for teachers this week in its latest installment of bonuses for Idaho’s top performers.

Master Education Premiums were created by the Idaho Legislature in 2015 as a reward for the state’s highest performing educators. The awards are $4,000 for three years, bringing the total to each teacher to $12,000.

The state has to wait on an annual data upload from districts and charters to confirm where teachers are working before it can make payments, Department of Education Spokeswoman Kris Rodine said. This week the department is distributing $7.1 million in premiums and another $1.4 million in employer benefit obligations to districts, Rodine said.

When teachers see that money is up to the districts and charter schools.

Nearly 2,000 Idaho teachers were granted Master Educator Premiums in two cohorts before the program was discontinued in 2020. The first class of recipients, approved in 2019, is getting its third and final round of payments. The second class of educators is set to be paid for the second time.

The current state payment is for 1,774 teachers across both cohorts, Rodine said. The state is waiting for school district data to confirm the eligibility of another 140.

The premium program has been plagued by missed deadlines and demanding applications from the outset. Teachers reported spending 80-120 hours putting together applications the first year and some of the state’s top award-winning educators didn’t even apply.

Then, the second class of MEP recipients waited months for checks, due to COVID-19 delays.

Depending on how quickly districts move to pass along the payments, this year’s bonuses could hit teachers’ pockets in time for Christmas.

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