AUSTIN (KXAN) — Harmony Public Schools announced it received $7.5 million of bonuses from the Texas Education Agency, with a million going to teachers at its Central Texas campuses. The school district said it’s helped retain its teachers in the classroom.

The Teacher Incentive Allotment was created in June of 2019 after the Texas legislator passed H.B. 3. The money is to reward high-performing teachers to create a pathway to a six-figure salary that will help keep them in the classroom.

“I feel like, number one, it lets them know that the work they do in the classroom is seen and recognized and we want to compensate them for staying in a very important role such as teaching,” Dr. Amy Chankin, the assistant area superintendent of programs for Central Texas Harmony Public Schools, explained.

How much more can teachers make?

Dr. Chankin said the school district applied for the TIA program the first year it started. This year $1 million went to 121 designated teachers in the Central Texas campuses. Thirty-nine of the teachers were newly designated this year.

Harmony Public Schools is a public-charter school system that has schools throughout the state.

Eligible teachers are split into three different “bands” that decide their level of bonuses. Those bands are Recognized, Exemplary, and Master. Depending on which band they are located in, a teacher can make anywhere between $3,000 and $32,000 of bonuses a year.

Teachers are placed in these bands based on a variety of data points. The state will look at the student success outcomes of each teacher, observations, and the leadership portfolio of a teacher, including if a teacher obtained certificates or higher education for their job.

“Incentivizes them and recognizes them for the hard work that they do in the classroom,” Dr. Chankin said. “It motivates them to stay in the classroom and it lets them know that the work that they do for students directly means the world to us, and we want to keep them in those positions as teachers.”

KXAN reached out to the TEA to see how many school districts in the Austin area applied for the TIA program. The agency’s website said there are 346 school districts receiving funds, but it did not get back to KXAN on the number of Austin-area school districts in the program at the time this story was published.