AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Texas Education Agency has announced the 26 school districts that will be part of the Teacher Incentive Allotment. The program will be distributing $40 million to more than 3,650 teachers across the state.

The program is meant to help recruit teachers to poor and rural areas and keep them there. Fruitvale ISD Superintendent Rebecca Bain has been applying for the program for the past year.

“We had had issues in prior years of keeping teachers in a small rural district because you know, we get these new teachers in, and they’re doing a great job, and then they can go make more money in a bigger school,” Bain explained.

The allotment program passed as part of House Bill 3 in the 86th legislative session. TEA Director of Strategic Compensation Grace Wu said the program is based on a teaching evaluation, and student growth. Then, if approved, a teacher is designated as either recognized, exemplary or master.

“Depending on which designation you get, you’re able to generate a certain allotment for your district,” Wu said.

“There’s a 2018 study where I believe college seniors are asked, ‘Why did you not choose education?’ And the three main reasons, the top one is very clearly it’s about pay,” Wu explained.

Bain learned nine teachers in her district had been approved last week, and one was designated as a master teacher. Bain surprised all of them with giant checks in their classrooms.

“You never expect to put yourself there and to be honored as a master teacher, and then that check. I mean, I’m just floored,” master teacher Becky Barnes said.

Barnes explained the money is not the most important thing to her, but she’s hoping the program will encourage others to help our future.

“I love inspiring students. I love being here. And I put my heart and soul into everything. And it’s a tough year this year,” Barnes said. “I want my kids to have a better life than what they’re living now.”

La Pryor ISD has also been approved for the state’s allotment program.

“If we get to keep one great teacher or we get to recruit one great teacher out of this, that our kids get to be exposed around, it’s worth it. In the end, that’s what we want,” said La Pryor ISD Superintendent Matthew McHazlett.

Three teachers in his district will be receiving extra cash this year, and he said their reaction was emotional.

“One of the teachers said, well, there’s no way I can retire now. And I’m sitting there going, ‘Yeah, that’s the whole purpose of this.’ One of them was saying, ‘This is the first time in my career that I’ve really felt valued, you know, financially for the work I do,'” McHazlett said.