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UEA Report on the 2018 Utah Legislature General Session

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WEEK TWO: 

2018 WEEK IN REVIEW: January 29-February 2


Teachers from Emery School District were among the
70 educators attending Educator Day on the Hill.

T
he number of educators attending Educator Day on the Hill is up about 50 percent from last year’s record number so far this year. Education bills on the move this week included measures to secure schools in a lockdown, to adjust the geographic radius preference requirement for charter schools and to allow the rehiring of school district employees after 60 days of URS retirement.

Fifteen Districts Represented at EDOH

Early Friday, Feb. 2, about 70 teachers and education professionals from all over Utah gathered for Educator Day on the Hill at the State Capitol. Educators met with their legislators and voiced concerns on education issues. Participants came from Grand, Jordan, Nebo, Washington County, Ogden, Cache, Emery, Tooele, Provo, Murray, Uintah, Granite, Alpine, Wasatch, Davis School Districts, as well as UEA-Retired and UEA Student members.

Conversations shared with legislators covered a variety of topics including class sizes, funding equalization and overall education funding. Reps. Carol Spackman-Moss and Derrin Owens stopped by during lunch and shared insights into the legislative process and current issues.

The evening prior to Educator Day on the Hill, about 50 educators from more than a dozen school districts across the state participated in the EDOH+ legislative preparation event. Many attendees represented early educator groups Envision UEA and the Early Leadership Initiative, an NEA program to foster leadership in young professionals.

Budget Subcommittee Continues to Hear Reports, Requests


Educators have the opportunity to visit
one-on-one with legislators at EDOH.

Legislators continued to meet in appropriations subcommittee meetings to hear reports and consider appropriations requests received from various entities before making their budget recommendations to the Executive Appropriations Committee. A few key requests/reports heard by the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee this week included:

The Subcommittee also heard an introduction to equalization and equity programs. Two competing equalization bills are being proposed this year.

Education Bills Moving Slowly

The number of public education bills being tracked by the UEA jumped to 69 this week, but few received any public discussion. Most education bills heard in committees this week received little resistance and passed unanimously. These included bills that would:

  • Secure schools in a lockdown (SB87);
  • Adjust the geographic radius preference requirement for charter schools (HB245);
  • Allow the rehiring of school district employees after 60 days of URS retirement (SB95)
  • Create a statewide standard for teachers of concurrent enrollment (HB237).
  • Convert the current dual language immersion pilot program to an ongoing program (SB117);
  • Eliminate certain reporting requirements for funds used to reduce class size (HB227);
  • Add “a physical or mental” before the word “illness” in the definition of a “valid excuse” a parent can use (HB234); and
  • Clarify decisions related to a child’s education that can be delegated through power of attorney (HB178).

The only public education bill to pass a full legislative body this week was a bill to modify educator licenses (HB46), which passed the House unanimously. The bill doesn’t significantly change current practice, but during a television interview, UEA Director of Education Excellence Sara Jones expressed concern that an unlicensed superintendent wouldn’t have the skills to do the job. “Our hope is that if this language is taken out of code…that instead the State School Board…in rule, would put into policy that this is really the best practice, to select superintendents with an education background.”


Full house and a full day for teachers at Utah’s Capitol – February 2, 2018


Envison UEA task force members were
among those attending EDOH and EDOH+.

Educators from 15 school districts across the state packed the room at UEA’s Educator Day on the Hill, many attending for the first time. These teachers met with their legislators and learned about the legislative process.

Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Mike Kelley): Things kicked off Thursday evening with about 50 educators from more than a dozen school districts across the state participating in the EDOH+ legislative preparation event. Many attendees represented early educator groups Envision UEA and the Early Leadership Initiative, an NEA program to foster leadership in young professionals.

Early Friday morning, the meeting room was full as about 70 teachers and education professionals from all over Utah gathered for Educator Day on the Hill at the State Capitol. Educators met with their legislators and voiced concerns on education issues. Participants came from Grand, Jordan, Nebo, Washington County, Ogden, Cache, Emery, Tooele, Provo, Murray, Uintah, Granite, Alpine, Wasatch, Davis School Districts, as well as UEA-Retired and UEA Student members.


It was a full house at Educator Day
on the Hill with 70 teachers attending.

The morning began early with instructions on how to speak to our legislators. UEA President Heidi Matthews and legislative team members instructed the group, many of whom were first time attendees, on the legislative process, bills of interest and the importance of sharing stories. Most of the group attended a Public Education Appropriations Committee meeting, followed by individual interactions with their legislators.

During a lunchtime debriefing session, many of the attendees reported on their interactions with legislators and their experiences. Several commented on a pre-service teacher preparation discussion during the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting (see below). Conversations shared with legislators covered a variety of topics including class sizes, funding equalization and overall education funding.

Reps. Carol Spackman-Moss and Derrin Owens stopped by and shared insights into the legislative process and current issues. Rep. Spackman-Moss discussed HB289: Public Education Exit Survey. Her bill would provide statewide consistency in gathering information from licensed educators leaving schools to help understand how to better attract and retain teachers.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee: The Subcommittee continued to hear reports and budget requests. On the docket today:


School locks and concurrent enrollment bills advance – February 1, 2018

A bill to enhance concurrent enrollment teacher standards and one to secure schools in a lockdown were heard in a House committee. The Senate Education Committee meeting scheduled for the day was canceled.

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): SB87: School Security Locks removes certain restrictions from code to allow public schools the ability to secure schools during a lockdown. The bill was substituted to insert compliance with ADA regulations. It passed out of committee unanimously as substituted.

HB237: Concurrent Enrollment Enhancements will have the Board of Regents create a statewide standard for teachers of concurrent enrollment. It also grandfathers any current teacher under existing standards. Jay Blain, as a previous concurrent enrollment teacher, spoke in favor of the bill on behalf of the UEA. The bill passed the committee unanimously.


More ed bills begin to move through committees – January 31, 2018


Members of the UEA Legislative Team
enjoying their work representing teachers.

Bills advancing today included measures to adjust the geographic radius preference requirement for charter schools, to create an early childhood taskforce and to allow the rehiring of school district employees after 60 days of URS retirement.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee continued to hear reports and funding requests. Among them:

The subcommittee also heard requests for appropriation:

  • Mother’s Against Dyslexia request for $20,000 for the Dyslexia Center of Utah
  • HB235 (1st sub.): School Family Partnership request for $345,000 ongoing (see House Education Committee, below)
  • Utah Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs request for about $400,000

Legislative Fiscal Analyst Ben Leishman the provided an introduction to equalization and equity programs. Two competing equalization bills are being proposed this year.

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): HB164 (2nd sub.): Early Childhood Taskforce was presented by Rep. Bruce Cutler. The bill creates a taskforce of legislators and members of state agencies to make recommendations for a state strategy for early childhood initiatives. The bill passed on a vote of 5-3.

HB235: School Family Partnerships was also presented by Rep. Cutler. The bill would create a program for schools with high rates of student absenteeism to conduct home visits. Participation in the home visit program would be voluntary for both educators and families. Some parents raised concerns about the potential intrusiveness of home visits. Rep. Val Peterson clarified that home visit programs already exist in some school districts and as part of the Turnaround program so “this bill is about the funding” to continue the program. The fiscal note for the bill is $350,000. No action was taken on the bill and Rep. Cutler said he will continue to work on the bill and may bring it back to committee

HB178 (1st sub.): Power of Attorney Amendments was presented by Rep. Keven Stratton. The bill clarifies decisions related to a child’s education that can be delegated through power of attorney. The bill passed unanimously.

HB245: Charter School Proximity Amendments was presented by Rep. Justin Fawson. 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 which allows for a smaller required radius. The UEA supports this bill. It passed unanimously.

Senate Retirement and Independent Entities Committee (reported by Jay Blain): One bill of interest to educators was heard in this committee.

SB95: Educator Postretirement Reemployment Amendments gives school districts and charter schools that participate in the Utah Retirement System the option to hire retired licensed educators from a different agency after 60 days under certain conditions. The employer must pay a retiree surcharge determined by the URS actuary to offset the cost of an employee retiring sooner than they might have. An amendment was proposed requiring that the educator sign an affidavit stating they have no preexisting agreement with their employer for a job. Jay Blain, representing the UEA, spoke in favor of the bill. The bill passed the committee unanimously.


How the Public Education Budget is Set – January 30, 2018

Ever wonder the process for passing the public education budget? The first few weeks of the session, legislators meet in appropriations committee meetings where they consider appropriations requests received from various entities. There are eight appropriation subcommittees, including the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Each subcommittee considers appropriation requests relevant that topic, then prioritize requests and submit a budget proposal to the Executive Appropriations Committee for final approval. The Executive Appropriations Committee is made up of Senate and House leadership and is responsible for setting the final budget for the upcoming year. This final budget is then voted upon by the full House and Senate, usually during the session’s closing days. (See more about the public education budget)


Bills with little controversy pass unanimously – January 30, 2018

Public education bills heard in committee and on the House floor today flew through with little resistance.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): SB117: Language Immersion Program Amendments was presented by Sen. Howard Stephenson. The bill would convert the current dual language immersion pilot program in to an ongoing program. Sen. Stephenson stated that since the dual language immersion program was created in 2008, Utah has developed the “biggest dual language program in the United States” with nearly 40,000 students participating. The bill passed 4-0.

SB115: Upstart Program Amendments renames the Upstart program the “Cap Ferry Upstart Program” in honor of a former legislator who advocated for the adoption of the Upstart program. The bill passed unanimously.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB46: Educator Licensing Modifications passed the full House unanimously. The bill doesn’t significantly change current practice. During atelevision interview, UEA Director of Education Excellence Sara Jones expressed concern that an unlicensed superintendent wouldn’t have the skills to do the job. “Our hope is that if this language is taken out of code…that instead the State School Board…in rule, would put into policy that this is really the best practice, to select superintendents with an education background.”


Budget committee hears reports, ed bills pass unanimously – January 29, 2018

Before making a final recommendation on public education spending, a subcommittee is hearing reports and budget requests from various entities. Four bills heard by the House Education Committee all passed unanimously.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): The Subcommittee continued to hear reports.

Budget reports from the Utah State Board of Education (USBE), included:

Marty Carpenter, representing Precision Exams, spoke in favor of Career and Technical Education. He said their programs produce many prepared students. He referenced the Governor’s emphasis on CTE in his State of the State address. He noted many other industry groups who have signed on to a letter supporting CTE.

Legislative financial analyst Ben Leishman guided a preliminary discussion on the issue of lapsing and non-lapsing balances and USBE staff member Scott Jones shared the balances and obligations for the funds.

There followed a presentation on the USBE Administration Budget Requests. Specifically, USBE is requesting:

  • Internal Audit Hotline and Risk Specialist - $145,000 (Ongoing)
  • Financial Operations Staff - $230,000 (Ongoing) & $75,000 (One-time)
  • Restorative Discipline Services - $335,000 (Ongoing)
  • USBE Charter School Support - $400,000 (Ongoing) 

The Subcommittee was also reminded of the Governor’s education budget recommendations.

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): Four bills heard by the House Education Committee all passed unanimously.

HB227: Minimum School Program Reporting Requirements eliminates certain reporting requirements for funds used to reduce class size. Rep. Susan Pulsipher reported that the first year this money was appropriated it was effective in reducing class size, but each succeeding year it is better characterized as class-size maintenance. The bill would streamline school district financial reporting and save time and money. The bill passed the committee unanimously.

HB230: Related to Basic School Programs Review 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. It passed the committee with a unanimous recommendation.

HB234: Compulsory Education Revisions adds “a physical or mental” before the word “illness” in the definition of a “valid excuse” a parent can use. USBE member Alisa Ellis reiterated that code says parents have the primary responsibility for the child’s education. She is concerned this definition may be used to collect mental illness information in the future. Connor Boyack, representing Libertas, spoke in favor of the bill. There was a motion to amend the bill to put physical or mental after illness so that the parent doesn’t have to indicate. The bill passed unanimously as amended.

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