3,000 Arkansas Educators Set to Receive Bonuses Through New Program

Approximately 3,000 teachers in Arkansas are set to receive a salary increase by the end of this month, as announced by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday.

These pay enhancements are linked to the Merit Teacher Incentive Fund Program, which was established as part of a significant education reform in 2023 under the Arkansas LEARNS Act. Additionally, the legislation raised the minimum starting salary for Arkansas teachers to $50,000 annually.

According to Sanders, “Quality education begins with exceptional teachers. That is why one of my initial actions as governor was to elevate teacher salaries across the board and recognize our top educators. This year’s merit-based bonuses will motivate teachers to tackle challenging assignments in our state and support the success of every student in Arkansas.”

The bonuses will be distributed to around 10% of certified teachers in Arkansas, with the Cross, DeWitt, and McGehee school districts reporting the highest proportion of their faculty receiving these incentives. The average bonus statewide amounts to approximately $3,300, and nearly 35 educators are slated to receive the maximum $10,000 bonus under this initiative.

Governor Sanders specified that a total of $10 million will be allocated for these bonuses.

Eligible teachers include those who have demonstrated exceptional growth in student performance, served as mentors to aspiring teachers engaged in yearlong residencies, or taught in areas facing critical teacher shortages based on the governor’s office.

The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education identified the recipients by utilizing various state systems and student assessment data.

Education Secretary Jacob Oliva stated, “It is a proven fact that the teacher in the classroom has the most significant impact on student learning. Outstanding educators deserve recognition for their excellence, and we are delighted to acknowledge these educators for their dedication to learning and ensuring their students’ future success.”

While the Cross, DeWitt, and McGehee districts boast a higher percentage of teachers receiving bonuses, they do not necessarily offer the highest average bonus across the state.

For instance, in the Clinton School District, only 5% of teachers will receive a bonus from the program, but the average bonus amount is $4,000. In the Genoa Central district in southwest Arkansas, the average bonus is $6,429, and 7.1% of teachers are expected to benefit.

According to the state education department, at least 16 school districts will not have any teachers receiving bonuses. Schools such as Cedarville in Northwest Arkansas, Mammoth Spring near the northern border, and Marvell-Elaine close to the Mississippi River fall into this category.

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