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All District 91 teachers to get bonuses

The State Department of Education said eight out of every 10 educators earned bonuses, but one local school district doesn’t think it’s fair and it’s doing something about it.

Teachers across Idaho will be given pay-for-performance checks by early next month.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Idaho Falls School District 91 school board approved a resolution to match dollar-for-dollar contributions to be given to educators who did not qualify for merit pay.

“It’s almost a bit of a lottery, the way that it’s structured right now,” said Superintendent George Boland.

Eighty-seven percent or around 460 teachers in Idaho Falls School District 91 qualified for merit pay. However, teachers in Dora Erickson Elementary, Clair E. Gale Junior High and Emerson Alternative High did not.

“There are a number of teachers that work at those schools that did not qualify, under the state criteria, that are deserving of recognition,” said Boland.

Boland said this resolution allows anyone to donate to what’s called the “Teacher Support” fund through the Idaho Falls Education Foundation.

The district will then match dollar-for-dollar what’s collected and it will be given to teachers who didn’t receive merit pay.

“There are those 72 teachers who were zeroes, who did not get any of the pay for performance money,” said Mitzi Elleningson, IFEA president. “It’s not because they didn’t work as hard as somebody else, they just happened to fall in the bottom quartile.”

Proposition 2, which failed at the polls Nov. 6, allowed teachers to be considered for bonuses based on students’ test scores and whether teachers were working in hard-to-fill positions. But the state still gave the bonus money to school districts this month under the old law.

The School Board said educators and Idaho voters saw the flaws with pay-for-performance and this is a way to make it equal for teachers in their district.

“This was a mechanism to communicate to those teachers that their efforts are appreciated by the board, by the administration and also by their peers,” said Boland.

Because the district isn’t handling the donations, the Idaho Falls Education Foundation Board needs to approve the resolution too.

They’re scheduled to meet next Thursday. A representative from the foundation said she sees no problem with this resolution passing.

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