Money for Utah teacher bonuses headed to districts by June

Apr 7, 2022, 7:09 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2022, 12:49 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Teachers who took on extra work during the omicron surge will soon be getting a thank you in their paychecks.

The Utah State Board of Education on Thursday approved the distribution formula and guidelines for the $10 million appropriated by the Utah Legislature earlier this year for teacher bonuses.

“There’s a message behind it of saying ‘thank you’ from the legislature,” said state superintendent Sydnee Dickson. “Thank you. We hear you. We recognize you. We know you have a lot of burdens and we want to make sure you’re recognized.”

During this school year, staffing shortages combined with a lack of substitutes required teachers to fill in for absent teachers — often during their preparation time. Districts struggled to address teacher fatigue because of the additional workload.

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The $10 million from the state will be allocated to local school districts and charter schools based on how many teachers they have.

“Large districts, like in Alpine, are going to get $1 million of it, 10% of it because they have 10% of the teachers,” said Jay Blain with the Utah Education Association.

Districts will then decide how much each teacher receives. Under the bonus program, teachers will be provided up to $100 per additional work assignment to substitute between December 2021 and the end of this May.

“They talked about a situation where a teacher may have done it 10 times and may get $1,000,” Blain said. “There’s no cap but I think a district will be judicious in the way they appropriate their portion of the money.”

Educators eligible for the bonuses include classroom teachers, speech pathologists, librarians, teacher specialists, guidance counselors, audiologists, psychologists and social workers.

“They had to be so many things to so many people all at once,” said state board of education member Carol Lear. “I wish we could give them three times as much as we’re able to give them.”

Districts that choose to participate in the bonus program will receive their portion of the $10 million by the end of June.

“It is taxpayer money, I want to be clear,” Lear said. “It’s not the state board’s money. It’s not the legislature’s money. It is taxpayer money that’s saying thank you teachers.”

Local districts will also be in charge of crunching the numbers to determine how much teachers will receive per assignment if they only covered a portion of the day for an absent teacher.

If a district chooses not to participate in the bonus program and declines the funds, the state board will distribute the funds evenly to districts that opted to receive additional funds, according to the rules approved on Thursday.

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Money for Utah teacher bonuses headed to districts by June