Page Title

UEA Report on the 2014 Utah Legislature General Session

Page Content


WEEK THREE:
 

2014 LEGISLATURE WEEK THREE SUMMARY: February 10-14

Discussions around education bills and the education budget began to escalate during week three of the 2014 Utah Legislature. By the end of the week the UEA was tracking nearly 100 education-related bills. The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee set budget priorities and agreed with Governor Herbert’s recommendation of a 2.5% WPU increase. A sweeping new technology proposal introduced late Friday, however, may significantly impact those recommendations.

Public Education Budget: This week the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee finalized its list of funding priorities to forward to the Executive Appropriations Committee, which will make final budget decisions before sending a budget bill to the House and Senate for approval. The Subcommittee also recommended a 2.5% increase on the WPU, despite arguments from some legislators that a 1% increase was sufficient. The UEA has requested a 4% WPU increase.

Speaker Rebecca Lockhart and Rep. Francis Gibson addressed the Subcommittee on their much-anticipated Public Education Modernization Act, an initiative first hinted at by Rep. Lockhart in her opening address to the House. Few details were revealed during the Subcommittee meeting, however, the bill, HB131: Public Education Modernization Act, was finally made public late on Friday, Feb. 14. It would direct $50 million in one-time funding and $150 million ongoing to put technology devices into the hands of every student in the state.

Rep. Gibson said the goal of the initiative is better attendance, improved test scores, improved ACT scores and higher graduation rates. The program will be operated and managed through the USOE and will be based on grants, he said.

The Subcommittee also continued to hear presentations from various education entities and programs including a merger proposal for the Utah Data Alliance and Utah Futures, the Roy High School Graduation Project, ASSERT autism training for teachers, the Beverly T. Sorenson Arts Program, UPSTART technology for pre-K students, expansion of dual immersion programs, a new funding allocation formula for charter schools, intergenerational poverty project, the Statewide Online Education program, a separate line item to fund school employee Social Security and retirement and funding for additional teacher development days.

Educator Day on the Hill: In addition to the usual meeting legislators and attending committee meetings, the more than 20 teachers attending Educator Day on the Hill heard legislators share thoughts on key bills and the legislative process. Teachers from Alpine, Granite, Davis, Salt Lake and Weber School Districts participated.

Teachers were among the first to publicly hear details of the much-anticipated HB131: Public Education Modernization Act (NOTE: contents of the bill were not released until late Friday) from its sponsor, Rep. Francis Gibson. “Technology can never replace a quality teacher,” he said. “I don’t want people to feel like this is in any way going to replace you.” The bill would provide $50 million one-time to provide the infrastructure required in schools, then $150 million ongoing for the technology and professional development. Rep. Gibson said research has shown that students show little to no learning improvement if teachers have 0-20 hours of training on the technology but show significant improvement if teachers have 49 or more hours of training. The plan is to provide the infrastructure first, then the training and finally the technology to the students, he said.

Sen. Pat Jones engaged the teachers in a lively discussion. “Why can we spend $300 million on technology but can’t get more on the WPU,” she asked. As a member of the Education Task Force, she said she had heard nothing about a major technology investment in schools.

Rep. Joel Briscoe shared some frustration about his participation on the Public Education Appropriations Committee. He said there are many programs he supports, but cannot fund them all and that some items come up for vote that have never been heard before.

Bills on the move this week
(For the current status on all bills of interest see the UEA Legislative Tracking Sheet)

  • HB36: Charter School Enrollment Amendments would allow the grandchild of a charter school founder to bypass the lottery and be enrolled. Children of a parent founder are already given priority. The bill passed the House 70-2.
  • HB41: Clean Fuel School Buses and Infrastructure would provide grants to replace school buses and to create infrastructure for alternative fuel vehicles. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
  • HB81: Parental Review of Statewide Summative Test Questions would allow a parent or guardian of a student to review “any or all” test questions for any grade 3-12 statewide summative test. The UEA opposes the bill. It passed the House Education Committee 10-5.
  • HB84 (1st Sub.): School District Amendments restricts the ability to create a new school district if a feasibility study shows that the projected revenue of the new district exceeds the project new costs of the new district by 5%. It passed the House Revenue and Taxation Committee with a favorable recommendation.
  • HB96: School Readiness Initiative appropriates $5 million to prepare at-risk, pre-K students for school through early intervention with the goal to ultimately save additional resources by avoiding special education remediation in the future. The bill passed the House 49-24 and moves to the Senate.
  • HB221: School Community Council Revisions changes certain deadlines and requires the School Children’s Trust Section to provide training on the School Land Trust program to local school and charter boards, school districts and charters and school community councils. UEA supports this bill. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
  • HB224: Sales and Use Tax Amendments would automatically cut the sales tax rate in Utah if the U.S. Congress passes internet sales tax collection legislation. UEA opposed this bill. It failed in the House 26-47.
  • HB239: Front-Line Teachers Data Program would require districts and charter schools to report data to the State Board of Education on the allocation of resources for front-line teachers. The UEA recommends this bill go to interim study. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
  • HB249: Grants for Digital Textbooks would provide $500,000 in grant money to districts and charter schools to help fund the adoption of digital textbooks, personal mobile devices and desktop or laptop computers. The bill passed the House Education Committee 10-5.
  • HB250: Local School Board Amendments provides that an elected member of a local school board serves and represents the residents of the local school board member's district and may not be restricted by the board member's membership on, or obligations to, the local school board. The bill passed the House 65-5.
  • HB257: Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child Amendments clarifies a piece of the code to allow courts to deal with individuals by defining individuals who are in positions of “special trust” that commit aggravated sexual abuse of a child. The bill passed the House unanimously.
  • HB260: Local School Board Candidate Reporting Amendments aligns the reporting deadline for local school board candidates with local county officers instead of the State School Board. The bill passed the House unanimously.
  • HB292: School Grading – Calculation of High School Graduation Rate would will change the grading school law to exempt some students from the provisions of the law because of their IEP’s. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House unanimously.
  • HB307: Public Education Funding Task Force would create a task force to study public education funding. The bill failed in the House Education Committee on a 5-5 vote.
  • HB337: Teacher Salary Supplement Program Amendments moves the administration of money for this program from state Division of Human Resources to State Office of Education. It passed the House Education Committee favorably. The UEA supports this bill.
  • HCR4: Concurrent Resolution Recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Schools Institutional Trust Lands Administration passed the House 72-1.
  • SB37: Statewide Online Education Program Revisions requires the State Board of Education to develop a notice about the Statewide Online Education Program that includes a description of the program, information on who is eligible to enroll and available enrollment methods. It passed the Senate Education Committee.
  • SB39: Home School Amendments removes requirements and accountability from home school students that the sponsor says are “unenforceable.” It passed the Senate Education Committee.
  • SB40 (1st Sub.): Financial and Economic Literacy Amendments appropriates $500,000 to strengthen and improve financial and economic literacy education by updating curriculum, developing an end-of-course assessment, providing professional development for teachers and developing a teacher endorsement in general financial literacy. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.
  • SB42: Early Childhood Education establishes a high-quality pre-school program for at-risk students in the state. The bill passed out of Senate Education Committee.
  • SB43: Intergenerational Poverty Intervention in Public Schools creates a grant program to fund additional educational opportunities for students affected by intergenerational poverty. It passed  the Senate Education Committee.
  • SB54: Elections Amendments is designed to change the internal processes within the political parties in response to the Count My Vote initiative. It passed the Senate Business and Labor Committee unanimously.
  • SB56: Risk Management Amendments is designed to give school districts civic immunity when schools are used for community functions and will allow community meetings to be held at schools and release them from liability. It passed Senate Business and Labor Committee unanimously.
  • SB98: Paraeducator Funding passed the Senate by a vote of 24-1. The bill provides $50,000 for paraeducators in schools identified by the State Board of Education as a priority school in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The UEA supports this bill.
  • SB118 (1st Sub.): School Funding through Income Tax Revisions modifies the taxpayer tax credit calculation by limiting the number of personal exemptions to two and creating a funding program for public schools. It passed out of the Senate Education Committee by a vote of 4-2.
  • SB131 (1st Sub.): Student Leadership Grant requires a school that receives a grant to set school-wide goals for the student leadership skills development program. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee.
  • SB104: Improvement of Reading Instruction would appropriate $975,000 to expand a reading clinic currently based at the University of Utah to satellite sites in Weber and Iron counties. With a 3-3 vote the bill failed to pass the Senate Education Committee.
  • SB111 (2nd Sub.): Education Funding Equalization makes changes related to school property taxes and funding. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee.
  • SB140: Advanced Placement Testing provides funding for Advanced Placement test fees for low income students. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate by a vote of 26-1.
  • SB148: Upstart Program Amendments establishes the UPSTART program as a permanent, non-pilot program. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.
  • SB150: Education Task Force Reauthorization allows for the continuation of the Education Task Force for another year. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee.
  • SB171: Student-centered Learning Pilot Program appropriates $275,000 to create a pilot blended learning, competency-based model on an extended-year school schedule. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee 5-1.

February 10, 2014

 

House Floor (Reported by Tom Nedreberg): HB260: Local School Board Candidate Reporting Amendments aligns the reporting deadline for local school board candidates with local county officers instead of the State School Board. There are different reporting and calendaring requirements for each type of race and this will allow the county clerks who are more familiar with county races to be of assistance to those running in local school elections. The bill passed unanimously.

HB36: Charter School Enrollment Amendments would allow the grandchild of a charter school founder to bypass the lottery and be enrolled. Children of a parent founder are already given priority. The bill also includes definitions for a disadvantaged student. Rep. Janice Fisher asked why there needs a bill to provide privilege for some students. Rep. David Lifferth stated many hours were spent in creating the school. The lottery is provided to limit the enrollment but this would allow a very small group to bypass the lottery requirement. The bill passed the House by a vote of 70-2.

Senate Education Committee (Reported by Mark Mickelsen): SB43: Intergenerational Poverty Intervention in Public Schools passed out of the Senate Education Committee with a favorable recommendation. The bill creates a grant program to fund additional educational opportunities for students affected by intergenerational poverty. The Utah State Board of Education will solicit proposals from school districts and charter schools wishing to receive money under the program. The goal is “to end intergenerational poverty” in the state Sen. Stuart Reid told committee members. “If [these students] become educated, they can compete,” he said.

SB150: Education Task Force Reauthorization also passed out of the committee with a favorable recommendation. The bill, if approved, allows for the continuation of the Education Task Force for another year. Sen. Reid said one of the items the Task Force needs to address is education funding.

By a vote of 4-2, Sen. Pat JonesSB118 (1st Sub.): School Funding through Income Tax Revisions passed out of committee with a favorable recommendation. The bill modifies the taxpayer tax credit calculation by limiting the number of personal exemptions to two and creating a funding program for public schools. Federal exemptions remain, as well as mortgage interest, Sen. Jones said, adding that the bill will generate $267 million in ongoing new money. Elementary schools, on average, would get $300,000 per year, middle schools $400,000, and high schools $700,000, she told committee members.

Jones outlined the benefits of the legislation, including:

  • Provides funding for education achievement goals.
  • It is good tax policy.
  • Citizens can take more ownership and pride in their schools.
  • Shared investment in Utah’s future.
  • Creates jobs in every community.

Sara Jones, UEA Legislative Team, thanked Sen. Jones for the tremendous effort she has put in to generating new revenue for public education and emphasized the need for a long-term plan.

SB111 (2nd Sub.): Education Funding Equalization, sponsored by Sen. Aaron Osmond, passed out of committee with a favorable recommendation. The bill makes changes related to school property taxes and funding. In his presentation of the bill, Sen. Osmond said his legislation represents a net tax increase of $100 million over four years, equalizes funding and provides resources at the local level. All funds will go directly to School Community Councils, whose members will determine how to spend them.

Public Education Appropriations Committee (Reported by Mark Mickelsen): The Public Education Appropriations Committee heard numerous presentations from senators and representatives hoping to secure funding for their priority projects. Sen. Howard Stephenson is proposing a new funding allocation formula for charter schools. Sen. Stuart Reid is asking for $5 million to fund his intergenerational poverty bill (see notes above). Sen. Stephen Urquhart is requesting $5 million to expand the Early Intervention Software program into third grade. For the Statewide Online Education program – initiated three years ago to allow high school students to take online courses and have the dollars follow the students to the online provider – $500,000 in ongoing and $150,000 in one-time money has been requested.

Rep. Joel Briscoe requested a separate line item to fund Social Security and retirement. In his presentation, he told committee colleagues that much of the WPU (Weighted Pupil Unit) approved by the Legislature last session did not make it into salaries because so much was needed for retirement costs, and another increase is anticipated this year. Briscoe asked the committee to fund his $25 million request, which will help school districts cover the cost of Social Security and retirement. The UEA is in favor of a separate line item to fund these expenditures.

Rep. Tim Cosgrove is requesting up to $19.4 million to fund two teacher development days. Rep. Cosgrove reminded committee members that $77.6 million was eliminated from the Quality Teaching block grant program after a downturn in the economy. He said his proposal would restore some of this money. The committee saw it as an important issue. The UEA supports funding for additional professional development days.

 


February 11, 2014

 

House Floor (Reported by Sara Jones): HB96: School Readiness Initiative appropriates $5 million to prepare at-risk, pre-K students for school through early intervention with the goal to ultimately save additional resources by avoiding special education remediation in the future. There is no requirement for children to participate and the bill provides several options for families to opt-in through home-based, LEA or private pre-K programs.

Rep. Greg Hughes called the approach a “unique and smart way to spend less taxpayer dollars” while helping at-risk children and avoiding future special education costs. Several legislators referenced research supporting the positive impact of early intervention. Several raised questions about the funding model, which seeks private investors, and several referenced the difficulty of adequately funding K-12 education and now taking on the issue of funding pre-K programs. Rep. Kraig Powell noted that this bill has attracted a lot of advocacy from different interest groups and he has received “well over 1,000 emails just on this issue.” After a debate of more than an hour, the bill passed the House with a vote of 49-24-2 and moves to the Senate.

House Education Committee (Reported by Sara Jones): HB81: Parental Review of Statewide Summative Test Questions was previously heard in committee on Feb. 7 but no action was taken. The bill would allow a parent or guardian of a student to review “any or all” test questions for any grade 3-12 statewide summative test. Because the bill creates questions about maintaining the validity of high-stakes tests that are now tied to educator evaluation and school grading, the UEA opposes the bill. The bill passed 10-5.

HB249: Grants for Digital Textbooks was presented by Rep. Jacob Anderegg. The bill would provide $500,000 in grant money to districts and charter schools to help fund the adoption of digital textbooks, personal mobile devices and desktop or laptop computers. The UEA opposed the bill because of a specific provision preventing grant money being used to provide professional development for educators. Rep. Anderegg recognized the concern and stated that the bill could be tweaked moving forward. The bill passed 10-5.

HB221: School Community Council Revisions changes certain deadlines and requires the School Children’s Trust Section to provide training on the School Land Trust program to local school and charter boards, school districts and charters and school community councils. UEA supports this bill. The bill passed unanimously.

HB239: Front-Line Teachers Data Program would require districts and charter schools to report data to the State Board of Education on the allocation of resources for front-line teachers and defines a “front-line teacher” as a “licensed teacher who has an assignment to teach kindergarten, elementary, secondary or special education.” The UEA recommends this bill go to interim study. The bill passed unanimously.

Public Education Appropriations Committee (Reported by Jay Blain): Speaker Rebecca Lockhart and Rep. Francis Gibson addressed the Public Education Appropriations Committee on their much-anticipated Public Education Modernization Act, an initiative first hinted at by Rep. Lockhart in her opening address to the House. It would direct upwards of $250 million to put technology devices into the hands of every student in the state. Few details were revealed during the committee meeting, however.

Rep. Gibson said the goal of the initiative is better attendance, improved test scores, improved ACT scores and higher graduation rates. The program will be operated and managed through the USOE and will be based on grants, he said.

“I respect the process, that is why I am here to address (this committee),” said Rep. Lockhart. She had no bill nor anticipated funding request, but said “it will be a big number, because what we’re talking about is a large commitment.” Up until now, education has been about what is easy for the adults, but we need to start thinking about the children, she said. “If public education truly is a priority then there can’t be any sacred cows. All revenues are on the table,” Rep. Lockhart said, adding that she was not making an announcement about where the revenues are coming from because “we just don’t know.” She recognized the need for infrastructure investments as well as professional development for educators and administrators to change their instructional methods. The hope is to have a bill proposal by the end of the week.

The committee also continued to hear presentations from various education entities and programs:

Sen. Howard Stephenson described the proposal to merge Utah Data Alliance and Utah Futures. He said the merger would create a better longitudinal data system. The cost would be $2.7 million. He says if this is not funded, both systems would have to be shut down. Rep. Kraig Powell asked about privacy of data. Sen. Stephenson responded that the State Superintendent can veto any release of data via FERPA and state laws.

A request of $250,000 was made for the Roy High School Graduation Project. A private donor is providing a $250,000 match. In addition to addressing foundational issues such as poverty, the project includes technology and volunteers.

ASSERT is training for teachers on how to deal with children with autism. The funding request is $50,000 ongoing and $50,000 ongoing for the Sound Beginnings program for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Music specialists presented information about the Beverly T. Sorenson Arts Program, which in now in 137 schools. The request is for $5 million in ongoing money, an increase of $1 million. By making the funding ongoing, school districts will know that program is sustainable, they said. The school district match would increase from 20 to 25 percent.

Sen. Stuart Adams and Claudia Miner from Waterford Institute presented information about UPSTART. The program provides technology for pre-K students. Miner said there are 4,500 homes waiting to participate. An appropriation of $5 million would allow 8,500 homes to participate, she said.

Sen. Stephenson also requested $450,000 for expansion of dual immersion programs.

 


February 12, 2014

 

House Floor (Reported by Jay Blain): HB224: Sales and Use Tax Amendments would automatically cut the sales tax rate in Utah if the U.S. Congress passes internet sales tax collection legislation. UEA opposed this bill. The bill failed 26-47.

Rep. Mel Brown detailed the history of the School Trust Lands as he presented his HCR4: Concurrent Resolution Recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Schools Institutional Trust Lands Administration. The Trust has grown from only about $50 million in 1992 to more than $1.8 billion today, he said. The resolution passed 72-1.

HB250: Local School Board Amendments provides that an elected member of a local school board serves and represents the residents of the local school board member's district and may not be restricted by the board member's membership on, or obligations to, the local school board. The bill passed 65-5.

Senate Floor (Reported by Mark Mickelsen): SB98: Paraeducator Funding passed the Senate by a vote of 24-1. The bill provides $50,000 for paraeducators in schools identified by the State Board of Education as a priority school in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The UEA supports this bill.

SB140: Advanced Placement Testing passed the Senate by a vote of 26-1. The bill provides funding for Advanced Placement test fees for low income students. The legislation carries a $100,000 fiscal note. The UEA supports this legislation.

SB148: Upstart Program Amendments passed the Senate unanimously. The bill establishes the UPSTART program as a permanent, non-pilot program.

Senate Education Committee (Reported by Sara Jones): SB40 (1st Sub.): Financial and Economic Literacy Amendments appropriates $500,000 to strengthen and improve financial and economic literacy education by updating curriculum, developing an end-of-course assessment, providing professional development for teachers and developing a teacher endorsement in general financial literacy. Four students from Bingham High School spoke in favor of the bill. They addressed the lack of consistent quality curriculum and instruction in both online and traditional financial literacy courses and the importance for students to have a solid understanding of financial issues. The bill passed unanimously.

SB171: Student-centered Learning Pilot Program creates a blended learning, competency-based model on an extended-year school schedule. The bill appropriates $275,000 for interested districts to hire consultants to develop pilot programs. UEA spoke against the bill because of concerns about the potential negative impact on employment policies. A requirement in the bill says pilot schools must be exempted from district policies that “prohibit the pilot school from meeting the requirements of the pilot program.” The bill passed 5-1.

SB104: Improvement of Reading Instruction would appropriate $975,000 to expand a reading clinic currently based at the University of Utah to satellite sites in Weber and Iron counties. With a 3-3 vote the bill failed to pass out of committee.

Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee (Reported by Jay Blain): Sen. Aaron Osmond presented SJR2: Joint Resolution on Legislative Power. This bill proposes to amend the Utah Constitution to modify the legislative power of the people to include a provision allowing the Legislature to require any law it passes relating to taxation to be approved by voters before taking effect. Because SJR2 is an amendment to Utah’s Constitution, it will require a two-thirds majority vote in both houses, plus a majority vote in a general election, in order to take effect. Sen. Osmond explained that this bill would not be like what was passed and later rescinded in Colorado. It differs in that the language says the legislature “may” put any tax increase to a vote rather than “shall.”

UEA Executive Director Mark Mickelsen testified in opposition to the bill, saying it would cripple the ability of the legislature to recover from the recession. Roger Tew from ULCT followed up on UEA’s concern that this will become the defacto process with every tax increase going to the public.

No vote was taken and the committee moved to go the next item on the agenda.

House Education Committee (Reported by Jay Blain): HB337: Teacher Salary Supplement Program Amendments moves the administration of money for this program from state Division of Human Resources to State Office of Education. It passed out favorably. The UEA supports this bill.

HB307: Public Education Funding Task Force would create a task force to study public education funding. After amending the bill to include a charter school representative on the task force, the bill failed on a 5-5 vote.

HB41: Clean Fuel School Buses and Infrastructure would provide grants to replace school buses and to create infrastructure for alternative fuel vehicles. The bill passed out with a favorable recommendation on a unanimous vote.

 


February 13, 2014

 

House Floor (Reported by Tom Nedreberg): HB257: Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child Amendments clarifies a piece of the code to allow courts to deal with individuals by defining individuals who are in positions of “special trust” that commit aggravated sexual abuse of a child. The bill passed unanimously.

HB292: School Grading – Calculation of High School Graduation Rate would will change the grading school law to exempt some students from the provisions of the law because of their IEP’s. Rep. Rhonda Menlove talked about a problem with a high school’s grade, which was lowered because some students who did not graduate were counted against the high schools score. These students were on an IEP, which delayed their graduation date and complied with law. The UEA supports this bill. It passed unanimously.

Public Education Appropriations Committee (Reported by Jay Blain): Intent language was moved and passed by the Public Education Appropriations Committee regarding charter school enrollment, distribution of flexible allocation funding, the statewide online education program and distribution of teacher supply money. These language items will go into the final education appropriation bill.

A number of varied budget motions were made and passed. Two of most importance were the increase of money in the funds that guarantee the board and voted levies and increase in the amount of distribution from the School Land Trust program.

The Committee then finalized its list of funding priorities to forward to the Executive Appropriations Committee, which will make final budget decisions before sending a budget bill to the House and Senate for approval.

Sen. Aaron Osmond made a motion to recommend a 2.5% increase on the WPU. Sen. Steve Urquhart argued that a 1% WPU increase is sufficient as the WPU is “the least innovative part of the budget.” Rep. Jim Nielson disagreed saying he has seen many innovative things happening in school districts without legislative direction. Rep. Francis Gibson mentioned the retirement line item dilemma, a concern consistently expressed by the UEA. The motion to recommend a 2.5% WPU increase passed with Sen. Urquhart and Rep. David Lifferth voting against. The UEA has requested a 4% WPU increase.


February 14, 2014

 

Educator Day on the Hill (Reported by Tom Nedreberg and Mike Kelley): In addition to the usual meeting legislators and attending committee meetings, the more than 20 teachers attending Educator Day on the Hill heard legislators share thoughts on key bills and the legislative process. Teachers from Alpine, Granite, Davis, Salt Lake and Weber heard from Sen. Pat Jones, Rep. Francis Gibson and Rep. Joel Briscoe, Rep. Gibson, who stopped by to visit with the teachers.

Teachers were the first ones to publicly hear details of the much-anticipated HB131: Public Education Modernization Act (NOTE: contents of the bill were not released until late Friday) from its sponsor, Rep. Gibson. “Technology can never replace a quality teacher,” he said. “I don’t want people to feel like this is in any way going to replace you.” The bill would provide $50 million one-time to provide the infrastructure required in schools, then $150 million ongoing for the technology and professional development.

Rep. Gibson said research has shown that students show little to no learning improvement if teachers have 0-20 hours of training on the technology but show significant improvement if teachers have 49 or more hours of training. The plan is to provide the infrastructure first, then the training and finally the technology to the students, he said.

Sen. Jones engaged the teachers in a lively discussion. “Why can we spend $300 million on technology but can’t get more on the WPU,” she asked. As a member of the Education Task Force, she said she had heard nothing about a major technology investment in schools. She asked the teachers who would support the technology spending if it meant taking money away from the WPU. No one responded.

Rep. Briscoe thanked the educators for all they do. He shared some frustration about his participation on the Public Education Appropriations Committee. He said there are many programs he supports, but cannot fund them all and that some items come up for vote that have never been heard before.

Earlier in the day, the teachers introduced themselves and participated in discussions with the legislative team about bills that were on the docket for the day. Teachers then split up into four different groups because about a dozen education-related bills were being heard in four separate committees: Senate Education, Senate Business and Labor, House Political Subdivisions, and House Revenue and Taxation (see below). The teachers then contacted their legislators in front of the House and Senate and afterwards observed in the galleries of each body.

This is the end of the third week of the legislature with about three-and-a-half weeks to go. The UEA is tracking more than 80 bills that relate to education. There are three Educator Day on the Hill events remaining: February 21, 28, and March 7. It’s important for teachers to join us and lend their supporting voice to the legislative team with their legislators.

Senate Education Committee (Reported by Mark Mickelsen): SB37: Statewide Online Education Program Revisions passed out of the Senate Education Committee. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Daniel Thatcher, requires the State Board of Education to develop a notice about the Statewide Online Education Program that includes a description of the program, information on who is eligible to enroll and available enrollment methods.

Sen. Aaron Osmond’s SB39: Home School Amendments also passed out of committee with a favorable recommendation. Sen. Osmond outlined two issues the bill was designed to solve – unnecessary requirements forced upon home school students and procedures for the placement of a home school student who transfers to a public school.

Sen. Osmond said under his legislation home school children will no longer have to adhere to USOE requirements pertaining to instructional hours and curriculum. He said the current requirements are unenforceable. Regarding the placement of home school students in a public school, Sen. Osmond said there will be different ways to assess the student’s academic knowledge and skills. Kathleen Riebe, vice president of the Granite Education Association, testified that after home schooling doesn’t work, students often return to the public school classroom and are not ready for what they encounter there.

Sen. Osmond’s SB131 (1st Sub.): Student Leadership Grant passed out of committee with a favorable recommendation. The bill requires a school that receives a grant to set school-wide goals for the student leadership skills development program. Schools must show true academic success, according to Osmond. Funding for the grant program is estimated at $500,000 ongoing. Several administrators testified about the success of the program, noting decreases in student behavioral problems, and increases in academic success.

SB42: Early Childhood Education, also sponsored by Sen. Osmond, establishes a high-quality pre-school program for at-risk students in the state. Osmond amended his price tag on the bill from $6 million to $3 million. The senator testified that these programs reduce the achievement gap and, in this case, will help victims of intergenerational poverty. He also said such programs help reduce the need for special education services, noting that Utah is currently spending $27 million on disabled services for pre-K children. A researcher from USU said it is clear from the research that directing funding toward children who live in poverty is a great expenditure of state funds. The bill passed out of committee with a favorable vote.

House Revenue and Taxation Committee (Reported by Jay Blain): HB84 (1st Sub.): School District Amendments restricts the ability to create a new school district if a feasibility study shows that the projected revenue of the new district exceeds the project new costs of the new district by 5%. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams spoke in favor bill, as did SL County Council Member Aimee Newton. A representative from the South Jordan City Council spoke against bill. The bill passed the committee with a favorable recommendation.

HB77: Tax Credit for Home-Schooling Parent provides for a nonrefundable credit for each child that a parent is home schooling. Matt Ogle, Ogden/Weber UniServ Director, and Mike McDonough, Special Ed teacher at Woodstock Elementary in Granite District, both spoke against the bill and then the committee adjourned without taking action.

Senate Business and Labor Committee (Reported by Tom Nedreberg): SB54: Elections Amendments is designed to change the internal processes within the political parties in response to the Count My Vote initiative. Sen. Curt Bramble explained how the bill would address caucuses, delegates, primaries, ballots and voting. He then showed problems with the language in the initiative and how it unfairly treated the GOP in terms of numbers required to be placed on the ballot. The pubic then spoke for and against the bill. It passed the Committee unanimously.

SB56: Risk Management Amendments is designed to give schools districts civic immunity when schools are used for community functions and will allow community meetings to be held at schools and release them from liability. It passed unanimously.