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UEA Report on the 2018 Utah Legislature General Session

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WEEK THREE: 

WEEK IN REVIEW: February 5-9, 2018


UEA Director of Education Excellence Sara Jones addressed a
meeting of new National Board Certified Teachers at the Capitol.
The teachers were recognized on the floor of the House and Senate.

The number of education-related bills being tracked by UEA ballooned to 77 by the end of Week Three. House Republican Leadership caused a stir at the end of the week when they suggested direct teacher salary increases, which were misreported in the media as $6,200 per teacher. The actual discussion was a $2,000 increase to the $4,200 teachers have been receiving since 2008. The subcommittee charged with recommending a public education budget heard dozens of funding requests during the week. Final recommendations are expected on Feb. 12.

Heard on the Hill – a $6,200 teacher salary increase?


In a Feb. 8 caucus meeting, Republican House leadership floated the idea of directly funding teacher salary increases. By the next day, this had been misreported in the media as a $6,200 per teacher increase. The actual suggestion was to add $2,000 ($60-70 million) to the existing $4,200 educator salary adjustment teachers have received since 2008. By the end of the week, there was no proposal publicly available to directly increase teacher salaries.

Budget discussions continue

The “base” funding bill for public education passed both Houses unanimously, but the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee has yet to make its formal proposals for increased public education funding. During the week, the Subcommittee heard dozens of new education funding requests.

Special Ed salary supplement bill heard, stalls


Weber School District educators meet with Rep. Jeremy
Peterson at the Capitol during UEA Educator Day on the Hill

A bill to expand the Teacher Salary Supplement to include special education teachers and broaden the eligible math and science teachers (HB233) was discussed in committee, but no vote was taken. Sara Jones, speaking on behalf of the UEA, shared several concerns with the structure of the bill. These concerns include that the bill would make the supplement no longer eligible towards retirement and would create an unfunded mandate requiring districts to contribute 50% of the cost of the annual supplement over $4,000. She also explained that while salary is an important factor for teacher recruitment and retention, many special educators also cite the need for smaller class sizes, more paraeducators or more paid time to complete the extensive documentation and paperwork required. An amendment to reinstate the program for retirement eligibility failed.

Bill to limit candidates fails on close vote

An attempt to limit the routes potential candidates can take to get on the primary ballot (HB68) narrowly failed in the House on a vote of 34-37. Several other bills of interest were on the move this week:

  • An attempt to create a taskforce of legislators and members of state agencies to make recommendations for a state strategy for early childhood initiative (HB164) failed in the House on a vote of 33-36.
  • A requirement for school districts to create an educator exit survey and report survey data to USBE to help identify educator retention issues (HB289) passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
  • A change allowing a turnaround school to use a district employee as a “turnaround expert” rather than requiring a private outside consultant (HB297) failed in the House Education Committee on a vote of 4-6.

Educator Day on the Hill

About 30 educators and administrators attended UEA Educator Day on the Hill, many for the first time. Represented were Weber, Davis, Granite, Salt Lake and Jordan School Districts, as well as UEA-Retired, Utah School Employees Association and education students from Westminster College.



Caucus comments about teachers raises cause a stir – February 9, 2018


Jordan UniServ Director Jessica Dunn was
invited by her state senator to offer
the opening prayer on the Senate Floor.

In a caucus meeting Feb. 8, Republican House leadership floated the idea of directly funding teacher salary increases. This has been misreported in the media as a $6,200 per teacher increase. The actual suggestion was to add $2,000 ($60-70 million) to the existing $4,200 educator salary adjustment teachers have received since 2008. Legislators spent much of the day trying to find out “what happened or where that (suggestion) came from.” There is no publicly available proposal that would directly increase teacher salaries.

Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Mike Kelley): Welcome to the Capitol! Several of the 30 educators and administrators attending UEA Educator Day on the Hill were participating for the first time. Represented were Weber, Davis, Granite, Salt Lake and Jordan School Districts, as well as UEA Retired, Utah School Employees Association and education students from Westminster College.

During an early morning meeting, the UEA Legislative Team discussed key bills moving through the legislative process. Rep. Robert Spendlove, vice-chair of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee, stopped by to share information about the budgeting process.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB164 (2nd sub.): Early Childhood Task Force failed on a vote of 33-36. The bill creates a taskforce of legislators and members of state agencies to make recommendations for a state strategy for early childhood initiative.

HB178 (1st sub.): Power of Attorney Amendments clarifies decisions related to a child’s education that can be delegated through power of attorney. The bill passed unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB74: Voter Privacy Amendments passed unanimously and now goes to the House. The bill clarifies provisions related to a voter’s date of birth on a voter registration record.


Flooded with budget requests – February 8, 2018

Highlighting the need for new education money, constituent groups inundated the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee with requests for funding. A bill to expand the Teacher Salary Supplement to special education teachers stalled in committee. An attempt to limit the routes potential candidates can take to get on the primary ballot failed in a vote of the full House.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): Today was a day of many, many requests for public education appropriations:

  • Utah Leading in Effective, Actionable, and Dynamic (ULEAD) for a “center of innovation” to collect best of practices for education - $500,000
  • STEM Group simulations - $100,000.
  • Opioid Crises Curriculum - $150,000 for two years
  • Carson Smith Scholarships to increase the number of students in the program - $300,000 one-time / $3 million ongoing
  • Equity Funding for Students (Sen. Fillmore) - $36.1 million
  • Enhancement for At-Risk Students - $15 million
  • Necessarily Existent Small Schools - $500,000
  • Pupil Transportation – Sen Fillmore - $5 million
  • UPSTART Pilot - $200,000
  • UPSTART expansion - $3 million
  • Assessment to Achieve - $4.5 one-time
  • Teacher Librarians Closing the Gap - $3.6 million one-time
  • Elementary Schools in Response to Trauma Related Conduct - $500,000
  • Building Utah Youth - $100,000 for two years
  • Youth Impact - $250,000 one-time
  • Funding for School Nurses - $1 million
  • Gang Prevention and Intervention Programs in the Schools - $300,000 one-time / $300,000 ongoing
  • SafeUT App promotion - $175,000
  • Digital Math - $1 million
  • YEEHAAA - $45,000 one-time
  • LEA Administrative Cost Formulas to extend Administrative Cost Funding to charter schools - $7 million

Legislative fiscal analyst Ben Leishman then presented some additional items for considerationby the Subcommittee

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): HB233: Teacher Salary Supplement Revisions was presented by Rep. Val Potter. The bill would expand the existing Teacher Salary Supplement Program to include special education teachers and broaden the eligible math and science teachers. Sara Jones, speaking on behalf of UEA, shared several concerns with the structure of the bill. These concerns include that the bill would make the supplement no longer eligible towards retirement and would create an unfunded mandate requiring districts to contribute 50% of the cost of the annual supplement over $4,000. She also explained that while salary is an important factor for teacher recruitment and retention, many special educators also cite the need for smaller class sizes, more paraeducators or more paid time to complete the extensive documentation and paperwork required.

There was an amendment to reinstate the program for retirement eligibility, but ultimately, after extensive committee discussion, there was no action on the bill. Rep. Brad Last mentioned another proposal to increase teacher salaries and said there needs to be some coordination on proposals before moving forward with this bill.

HB289: Public Education Exit Survey was presented by Rep. Carol Moss. The bill requires school districts to create an educator exit survey and report survey data to USBE to help identify educator retention issues. The bill passed unanimously.

HB297: School Turnaround and Leadership Amendments was presented by Rep. Bruce Cutler. The bill would allow a turnaround school to use a district employee as a “turnaround expert” rather than requiring that they contract with an outside vendor. There was extensive discussion about the turnaround program and the cost to hire outside turnaround consultants. The bill failed 4-6.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB68: Political Party Amendments requires candidates to choose whether they will seek a party nomination to seek the nomination through the convention process or the signature-gathering process, but not both. The UEA opposes this bill. After extensive debate the bill narrowly failed on a vote of 34-37.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SJR1: Joint Resolution Recognizing Educators of the Deaf and American Sign Language Instructors recognizes the efforts of Utah’s educators of the deaf and American Sign Language instructors in sharing American Sign Language with students and community members across the state. It passed unanimously.

HB28: Retirement Systems Amendments amends certain retirement and insurance provisions. The UEA supports this bill which now goes to the Governor.


Competency-based learning and teacher licensing bills move forward – February 7, 2018


Planning ahead: UEA staffers Jenny Okerlund and
Michelle Dansie arrived at the Capitol at 5:30 a.m.
to reserve rooms for the 2019 Legislative Session.

Today the Senate Education Committee unanimously passed bills to expand competency-based learning, to move educator licensing responsibility to the State Board of Education and to allow the use of capital funds for technology.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): SB132: Competency-based Education Amendments was presented by Sen. Howard Stephenson. Since the legislature created the competency-based education pilot program more than a dozen LEAs have participated in a USBE training to prepare to submit a grant proposal to implement a program. The bill removes a cap limiting participation in a planning grant process to three LEAs in order to allow the Board flexibility to consider more grants to qualifying LEAs. The bill passed unanimously.

SB148: Public Education Enrollment Application Amendments was presented by Sen. Daniel Hemmert. The bill allows for secondary schools to set policy for enrollment of out of boundary students based on “maintenance of comprehensive programs and efficient allocation of resources.” The bill passed unanimously.

HB46 (1st sub): Educator Licensing Modifications was presented by Rep. Val Peterson. The bill is necessary to eliminate current educator licensing requirements in state statute and allow the Utah State Board of Education to implement proposed revisions to the licensing structure. The bill passed 3-0.

SB144: Local Funding of Education Technology would allow school districts to use revenue from debt service or a capital local levy to fund “technology programs or projects.” The questions was raised whether a “program” included hiring personnel but no clear answer was provided. The bill passed 3-0.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB227: Minimum School Program Reporting Requirements eliminates certain reporting requirements for funds used to reduce class size. It passed the House on a vote of 48-21.

HB230: Related to Basic School Programs Review passed the House on a vote of 65-3. The bill allows the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee to review line items in the Related-to-Basic part of the Minimum School Program every one to four years.

HB234: Compulsory Education Revisions adds “a physical or mental” before the word “illness” in the definition of a “valid excuse” a parent can use. It passed 66-1 in the House.

HB236: Public Education Reference Check Amendments requires LEA’s to respond within 20 days to a reference check in certain circumstances. It passed unanimously.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Three bills on UEA’s tracking list all passed the Senate unanimously.

HB48: Parenting Plan Amendments requires a child’s education plan to designate which parent in a joint custody situation has authority to make education decisions. This now goes to the Governor for signature.

SB104: Talent Development and Retention Strategy allocates $2.5 million from the Education Fund to provide incentive loans to students who intend to work in qualifying jobs.

HB28: Retirement Systems Amendments amends certain retirement and insurance provisions. The UEA supports this bill which now goes to the Governor.


Budget requests continue – February 6, 2018

The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee continued to hear budget requests from legislators. The public education “base” budget passed the Senate and now goes to the Governor.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): The Subcommittee is still hearing reports and budget requests prior to making its funding recommendations to the Executive Appropriations Committee. Budgets requests today included:

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB134: Conflict of Interest Disclosure Requirementsaddresses conflict of interest disclosures that certain public officers are required to file. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB1 (1st sub.): Public Education Base Budget Amendments passed the Senate unanimously and is on its way to the Governor. This is the primary funding bill for public education and essentially sets the next year’s budget before any new money is considered. Any increases to the “base budget” are typically decided in a supplemental budget bill near the end of the session.


Committee passes bill to add elementary school counselors – February 5, 2018

The “base” funding bill for public education passed the full House unanimously, but we have yet to see any formal proposals for increased public education funding. A committee forwarded to the full House of Representatives bills to adjust charter school funding, to provide online financial literacy resources and to create grants for school counselors in at-risk elementary schools.

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB231: Charter School Funding Amendments will not allow charters who go over their cap to get additional Local Replacement Funding (LRF) until everyone under the cap gets funded. Currently, when a charter school goes over its cap, every charter school would get less in LRF. Representatives from charter school organizations spoke in favor. The UEA also supports this bill. It passed the committee unanimously.

HB239: Financial Literacy Amendments provides for the creation of online resources to prepare for the state-mandated financial literacy. The bill narrowly passed the committee on avote of 5-4.

HB264: Elementary School Counselor Program appropriates $2.25 million for targeted grants to assist at-risk school districts and charter schools. Representatives from several community organizations spoke in favor of the bill, most pointing out the important role school counselors can play in the lives of children and families. The UEA supports the concept of the bill and the need for additional school counselors, but has concerns about the legislature mandating specific spending items rather than allowing local flexibility through an adequately funded WPU. The bill passed the committee with one nay vote.

House FloorHB1 (1st sub.): Public Education Base Budget Amendments passed the House unanimously. This is the primary funding bill for public education and essentially sets the next year’s budget before any new money is considered. Any increases to the “base budget” are typically decided in a supplemental budget bill near the end of the session.

HB245: Charter School Proximity Amendments also passed the House unanimously. The bill modifies provisions requiring a geographic enrollment preference for families residing “within” a two-mile radius of a charter school. The concern is that for charter schools in highly populated areas space becomes unavailable to any families outside of the two-miles radius. The change provides that geographic enrollment preference be “up to” a two-mile radius, allowing for a smaller required radius. The UEA supports this bill.