UEA Fears Proposed Budget Could Lead to Further Classroom Cuts
The Utah Education Association expressed concern that, despite nearly $300 million in new education money, Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s FY2014 budget proposal could mean further cuts to Utah public school classrooms and would be a blow to already-low teacher morale.
“The budget proposed today addresses various funding priorities, including funding student enrollment growth and providing educators with classroom supply money,” said UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “We are concerned, however, that this budget will likely force school districts to make additional cuts in critical areas such as class sizes, teacher training or school employee compensation.”
The Governor has proposed $297.6 million in new education funding, including a $26.2 million, or 1.16 percent, bump for the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU). The Legislative Fiscal Analyst estimates that mandatory increased costs associated with payroll alone (i.e.: Social Security, retirement, etc.) will cost more than 1 percent on the WPU.
The Utah State Board of Education and the Governor’s Education Excellence Commission have each called for a 2 percent WPU increase. The UEA is proposing a 3 percent increase.
“The business community recognizes the positive impact a world-class public education system has on the economy,” Gallagher-Fishbaugh said. “As Utah’s economy continues to improve, educator compensation, teacher training and classroom resources must keep pace if we want to retain our quality public school classroom teachers.”
Over the past four years, school districts have increased class sizes, eliminated teacher training opportunities, cut student instructional days, and reduced school employee take-home pay in order to balance stretched budgets. The Governor’s budget does not address compensating for these losses. While the proposed budget funds several new and needed projects, the UEA expressed concern that this funding comes at the expense of other critical classroom needs.
“Utah teachers have stepped up and done more with less for many years,” said Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “Any further cuts will severely inhibit our teachers’ ability to provide their students with a quality education and will strike at the heart of already-low educator morale.”