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UEA Report on the 2020 Utah Legislature General Session

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WEEK THREE: 

WEEK IN REVIEW: February 10-14, 2020

 
About a quarter of those attending Educator Day
on the Hill Feb. 14 were there for the first time
The number of education-related bills tracked by UEA ballooned to 57 by the end of Week Three. Bills moving through the process included a unanimous House vote to eliminate grading of schools, a resolution to encourage later starts for high schools and an expansion of Optional Extended-Day Kindergarten programs.

The subcommittee charged with recommending a public education budget hinted at a 4% increase on the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) despite unified public education stakeholder requests for a 6% WPU bump.

4% on the WPU? Budget discussions continue


Rep. Craig Hall was among several legislators
who stopped by to speak with EDOH participants
The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee has yet to make its formal proposals for increased public education funding, however, Subcommittee co-chair Sen. Lyle Hillyard told the committee that they are currently recommending a 4% increase in the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU). That may change depending on how much money is available after all the requests, he said.

During the week, the Subcommittee heard dozens of new education funding requests. Among the requests for one-time funding were a request for $33 million for a teacher retention bonus (listen to the teacher bonus presentation here) and $20 million to endow a teacher preparation scholarship (listen to the scholarship presentation here). UEA President Heidi Matthews spoke in favor of these two requests as ways to use one-time money to enhance public education.

House votes unanimously to eliminate school grades


HB175: Education Accountability Amendments
 eliminates the use of a single letter grade for school accountability. It passed the House unanimously. The same bill easily passed the House in 2019 but was never debated in the Senate, which will be the challenge again this year.

Other bills of note moving through the legislature during Week Three included the following:


Rep. Jen Dailey-Provost visits with SLEA
members during EDOH
HB14 (2nd sub.): School Absenteeism and Truancy Amendments establishes which absences from school are considered in determining if a minor is truant and limits the conditions under which a school district or charter school may impose administrative penalties on a school-age child who is truant. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House on a vote of 63-5.

HB58: Electronic Cigarettes in Schools Amendments adds vaping to existing substance use prevention programs. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously. 

HB70: Repeal of Single-Mark Straight Ticket Voting removes provisions from the Election Code that allow an individual to cast a vote for all candidates from one political party without voting for the candidates individually. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House on a vote of 46-26.

HB99: Enhanced Kindergarten Amendments clarifies assessment and reporting requirements for optional extended-day Kindergarten programs and seeks to expand the availability of OEK programs with an additional $18 million in funding. It passed the House on a vote of 48-21 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB107 (2nd sub.): Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools Incentive Program Amendments expands an existing program that provides a stipend to highly effective teachers who teach in a high poverty school. Sara Jones, representing the UEA, spoke in the House Education Committee about the problems with using a student test score to reward a few teachers rather than investing in instructional coaches, paraeducators, counselors or librarians to create effective instruction and student support throughout an entire school. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously.

HCR3: Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Consideration of a Later Start Time for High School encourages school districts and charter schools to consider the possible benefits and consequences of a later start to the school day for high schools. It passed the House on a vote of 51-20 and now goes to the Senate.

HJR2: Joint Resolution Recognizing School Bus Drivers supports the recognition of Utah school bus drivers for their dedication, leadership, student and parent relationships and technical skills. It passed the House unanimously.

SB21: Education Amendments removes language requiring qualified teachers to submit an annual application for the Teacher Salary Supplement Program provided their situation doesn’t change. It passed the Senate unanimously and now moves to the House. The UEA supports this bill.

SB104: Local Education Levy State Guarantee Amendments increases the number of increments the state guarantees for certain education levies as a means of equalization. UEA has supported property tax equalization in other bills because they raised new revenue through property tax for schools. However, UEA opposes this bill because it funds the increased guarantees using Education Fund money that could otherwise go to the WPU. It passed the Senate Education Committee with one no vote.

Nearly 100 participate in Educator Day on the Hill


Salt Lake Education Association members at EDOH
Despite it being Valentine’s Day, a beautiful sunny day combined with several school districts on recess meant a large turnout for UEA Educator Day on the Hill. Large contingents from Salt Lake Education Association and Granite Education Association made up about half of the nearly 100 in attendance. Also represented were Box Elder, Davis, Jordan, Nebo, Ogden, Provo, Tintic, Uintah and Weber School Districts, as well as UEA Retired and the Utah School Employees Association. Nearly a quarter of the participants were attending for the first time.

Education ‘Policy Ambassadors’ Share Lobbying Experiences


Nineteen educators volunteered to be 2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors

Nineteen teachers volunteered to become 2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA Educator Day on the Hill, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here are a few excerpts from this week’s submissions (click the title to read the full article)...

  • A Tangible Differenceby Alexandra Smith, Spanish and ELL teacher at Sand Ridge Junior High in Weber School District
    “…For my second visit to the Capitol, I was prepared. No longer was I overwhelmed, disillusioned and nervous. I spent my day helping two of my colleagues navigate their first visit and was able to meet with several state representatives as I moved about the complex. I had strong talking points and confidence that led to some very promising conversations. My voice mattered. My presence mattered. With this program, I have even more opportunities to make a real tangible difference in this profession which means so much to so many people.”
  • Supporting Educators and Students: Increase Access to Critical Professionalsby Lauren Rich, related services supervisor for Davis School District
    “UEA’s priorities this year do a fantastic job of highlighting how a 6% WPU increase would bring great benefits to the educators and students of Utah. One of them being this flexibility in spending would allow LEA’s and districts to invest in professionals such as school psychologists.”
  • Show Up and Speak Outby Alexis Redford, outreach teacher for the blind working in Canyons School District
    “We can’t expect change to happen in our classrooms if we don’t show up and speak out. We know what we need and what would help make a difference better than anyone. Our presence on the hill, sharing our stories and advocating for what we need has a greater impact than we think.”

Read all the 2020 UEA Policy Ambassador messages


Huge turnout for Educator Day on the Hill – February 14, 2019

Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Mike Kelley): A beautiful sunny day combined with several school districts on recess meant a large turnout for UEA Educator Day on the Hill. Large contingents from Salt Lake Education Association and Granite Education Association made up about half of the group. Also represented were Box Elder, Davis, Jordan, Nebo, Ogden, Provo, Tintic, Uintah and Weber School Districts, as well as UEA Retired and the Utah School Employees Association. Nearly a quarter of the participants were attending for the first time.

Several legislators stopped by to visit with participants. Rep. Elizabeth Weight shared information about her bill (HB152) to eliminate the high school civics test. Sen. Kathleen Riebe provided some information about the education budget and other hot education issues.

During the lunch debrief meeting, Rep. Craig Hall talked about his request to the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee yesterday for a $1,000 teacher retention bonus using one-time money available this year. Rep. Marsha Judkins discussed her bill (HB205) to raise the caps on special education funding to accommodate the increasing number of SpEd students. Rep. Joel BriscoeRep. Patrice Arent also thanked teachers for their service and for taking the time to be on the Hill.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB205: Students with Disabilities Amendments amends the formula for funding special education students. Currently, two-year lagged data is used to estimate the number of special education students in a district. The bill reduces that to one-year lagged data in order to be more accurate in and responsive to the growth of special education students. The UEA supports this bill. It passed unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB222 (1st sub.): Start Smart Utah Breakfast Program creates the Start Smart Utah Program to expand access to school breakfast in public schools and requires a public school to use an alternative breakfast service model if a certain percentage of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. It passed the House on a vote of 51-20 and now goes to the Senate.


UEA-backed plans for scholarships and teacher bonuses among requests for one-time funding – February 13, 2020

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): The subcommittee heard almost two dozen requests for funding, including several targeted toward what is expected to be significant funds available for one year only:

  • USBE made its final budget proposals subject to adjustment after their board meeting today;
  • Two bills with fiscal impact were presented for committee information: SB104: Local Education Levy State Guarantee and SB99: School Leadership Development Amendments;
  • Teacher Retention Bonus, request amount: $33,281,000 one-time. Heidi Matthews spoke on behalf of UEA in support of this request (listen to Heidi’s teacher bonus comments)
  • UPSTART, request amount: $500,000 ongoing;
  • SheTech – High School Girls STEM Ed & Careers, request amount: $320,000 one-time; $320,000 ongoing;
  • Certified Teacher Librarians, request amount: $1,066,200 ongoing;
  • Dual Language Immersion, request amount: $5477,100 ongoing;
  • SB69: Tax Credit for Educators, request amount: $32,000,000 ongoing;
  • Utah Futures Funding, request amount: $1,390,000 ongoing; $1,010,000 one-time;
  • School Mental Health Amendments, request amount: $500,000 ongoing;
  • High School Robotics Grant Program, request amount: $800,000 one-time;
  • InifniD, request amount: $521,000 one-time;
  • First Tee Golf & Character Class, request amount: $43,750 one-time FY 2020 and $43,750 one-time FY 2021;
  • Millcreek Arts Education Center, request amount: $5,940,00 one-time;
  • Utah Anti-Bullying Coalition, request amount: $300,000 one-time;
  • School Fees Impact, request amount: $8,000,000 ongoing; $8,000,000 one-time;
  • 360 Mental Health Stabilization Program, request amount: $2,500,000 one-time;
  • Financial Literacy in Public Education, request amount: $500,000 ongoing;
  • Teacher Preparation Scholarship, request amount: $20,000,000 one-time. Heidi Matthews spoke on this appropriation as a creative opportunity to use one-time money in an ongoing way to address the teacher shortage (listen to Heidi’s teacher scholarship comments);
  • Adult Autism & Education Treatment, request amount: $1,500,000 one-time;
  • Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools, request amount: $481,000 ongoing;
  • Create Utah, request amount: $1,830,500 one-time;
  • Fiscal Analyst Ben Leishman presented a motion sheet for the committee to approve.

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Three bills were heard in the committee:

HB107 (2nd sub.): Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools Incentive Program Amendments was presented by Rep. Mike Winder. The bill expands an existing program that provides a stipend to highly effective teachers who teach in a high poverty school. Teachers qualify for the stipend based on student standardized test scores. The bill would qualify K-3 teachers by using an assessment like Acadience (formerly DIBELS). Sara Jones, representing the UEA, spoke about the problems with using a student test score to reward a few teachers rather than investing in instructional coaches, paraeducators, counselors or librarians to create effective instruction and student support throughout an entire school. The bill passed unanimously.

HB58: Electronic Cigarettes in Schools Amendments was presented by Rep. Susan Pulsipher. The bill addresses the growing problem of students vaping in school. It adds vaping to existing substance use prevention programs, requires schools to create plans to help prevent substance use and provide stipends to school personnel to administer the plan and requires districts to adopt discipline policies about possessing or using a vaping product on school grounds. Chase Clyde, representing the UEA, acknowledged the seriousness of the vaping problem and raised the concern the bill could potentially place educators in a difficult position by requiring them to “confiscate” and “destroy” vaping products. Rep Watkins, in response to UEA concerns, proposed a clarifying amendment that “school administrators or their designee” would be responsible for confiscating and destroying vaping products and school policy would provide for either the “confiscation or surrender” of a vaping product. The bill was amended and passed unanimously. 

HB80: School Fees Modifications was presented by Rep. Adam Robertson. He noted that the Utah constitution states that public schools will be free. Over the years, fees for curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular fees have become common. This bill would prohibit districts and charters from charging certain curricular student fees. The potential impact of the change could be a loss of tens of millions of dollars to schools and he noted this is the primary objection of education stakeholders. The bill would require a 25% reduction in fees annually for four years to transition away from the use of fees and he has also asked for an appropriation of $8 million annually over the four year to partially off-set the loss of fees. The committee voted to hold the bill.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): The House passed three UEA-tracked bills, which now go to the Senate for consideration.

HB14 (2nd sub.): School Absenteeism and Truancy Amendments establishes which absences from school are considered in determining if a minor is truant; replaces ages to which certain provisions related to truancy apply with grade levels to which the provisions apply; and limits the conditions under which a school district or charter school may impose administrative penalties on a school-age child who is truant. The UEA supports this bill. It passed on a vote of 63-5.

HB114 (2nd sub.): Early Learning Training and Assessment Amendments provides programs and assessments to improve early learning in literacy and mathematics. The bill passed the House on a vote of 39-31.

HB70: Repeal of Single-Mark Straight Ticket Voting removes provisions from the Election Code that allow an individual to cast a vote for all candidates from one political party without voting for the candidates individually. The UEA supports this bill. It passed on a vote of 46-26.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB16 (1st sub.): School Meals Program Amendments amends provisions to broaden the use of school lunch revenues to school meals. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes back to the House to concur with the substitute.


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 13, 2020

Nineteen teachers volunteered to become 2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA Educator Day on the Hill, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is a new submission...

A Tangible Difference


Alexandra Smith (center) is one of nineteen
2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors
Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Alexandra Smith, Spanish and ELL teacher at Sand Ridge Junior High in Weber School District

“…For my second visit to the Capitol, I was prepared. No longer was I overwhelmed, disillusioned and nervous. I spent my day helping two of my colleagues navigate their first visit and was able to meet with several state representatives as I moved about the complex. I had strong talking points and confidence that led to some very promising conversations. My voice mattered. My presence mattered. With this program, I have even more opportunities to make a real tangible difference in this profession which means so much to so many people.”


House votes unanimously to eliminate school grades – February 12, 2020

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Five UEA-tracked bills passed the committee and now go to the full Senate for consideration.

SB73: Reading Assessment Expansion Amendments was presented by Sen. Jerry Stevenson. The bill seeks an additional $1.5 million to expand Acadience (formerly DIBELS) assessment currently required in grades 1-3 to grades 1-6. It passed unanimously.

SB93 (1st sub.): Math and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers requests an additional $4.8 million to expand the USTAR program and changes the name to the Math and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers (MOST) program. The MOST program allows schools to offer expanded science and math programing for secondary students. Currently 95% of funds must go to teacher salaries and benefits. This bill expands the definition of “teacher” to “educator” to include coaches and other instructional personnel. It passed unanimously.

SB104: Local Education Levy State Guarantee Amendments was presented by Sen. Lincoln Fillmore. The bill increases the number of increments the state guarantees for certain education levies as a means of equalization. UEA has supported property tax equalization in other bills because they raised new revenue through property tax for schools. However, UEA opposes this bill because it funds the increased guarantees using $33 million in Education Fund monies that could otherwise go to the WPU. The WPU is the most equitable distribution source because it goes to all districts and charters and the guarantees do not. The bill passed with one no vote.

SB99: School Leadership Development Amendments was presented by Sen. Ann Milner. The bill requests $15 million for districts and charters to apply for grants to provide professional learning, training and mentoring for new principals and “aspiring” principals to improve principal leadership. During committee discussion it was clarified that the grant program could be scaled if the bill was funded at a level less than the requested $15 million. Sen. Kathleen Riebe raised the concern of how the grants would be prioritized to districts or charters that have the greatest need. It passed unanimously.

HJR2: Joint Resolution Recognizing School Bus Drivers was presented by Rep. Elizabeth Weight. The resolution supports the recognition of Utah school bus drivers for their dedication, leadership, student and parent relationships and technical skills. It passed unanimously.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB175: Education Accountability Amendments eliminates the use of a single letter grade for school accountability. It passed the House unanimously. The same bill easily passed the House in 2019 but was never debated in the Senate, which will be the challenge again this year.

HB99: Enhanced Kindergarten Amendments clarifies assessment and reporting requirements for optional extended-day Kindergarten programs and seeks to expand the availability of OEK programs with an additional $18 million in funding. While the UEA emphasizes significant increases to the WPU as the most flexible source of funding, the UEA supports this bill because a key UEA legislative priority is to improve student equity and access to quality education for students at academic risk, which the OEK program has been very successful in doing. The bill passed the House on a vote of 48-21 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB21: Education Amendments removes language requiring qualified teachers to submit an annual application for the through the Teacher Salary Supplement Program provided their situation doesn’t change. It also removes a requirement in the Educational Improvement Opportunities Outside of the Regular School Day Grant Program that matching funds be private. In addition, the bill amends a definition regarding a waiver of immunity related to sexual battery and sexual assault against a student under certain conditions. It passed the Senate unanimously and now moves to the House. The UEA supports this bill.

SB79: Regional Education Service Agencies changes existing Regional Service Centers to Regional Education Service Agencies, giving them a status similar to districts. For example, they would now be allowed to receive grants and manage programs that currently only flow to districts and charter schools and their employees could participate in the Utah Retirement System. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House.


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 12, 2020

Nineteen teachers volunteered to become 2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA Educator Day on the Hill, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is a new submission...

Supporting Educators and Students: Increase Access to Critical Professionals


Lauren Rich (second row, far left) is one of nineteen
2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors
Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Lauren Rich, related services supervisor for Davis School District

…My hope is that those making the staffing decisions in school districts and those in the legislature can help educators and students gain access to more school psychologists, as well as continue to support the growth of these equally critical professions. In order to make that a reality, I think the best place to start is simply remembering school psychologists! More often than not I think this group of professionals is overlooked simply because we are not as well known as our counterparts the counselor and social worker. You can be an incredible aid in this by discussing the value your school psychologist brings to you as an educator and your students with your district/building administrators, your community members, and your representatives…

UEA’s priorities this year do a fantastic job of highlighting how a 6% WPU increase would bring great benefits to the educators and students of Utah. One of them being this flexibility in spending would allow LEA’s and districts to invest in professionals such as school psychologists. I commend UEA for including this in their priorities and I am excited to see the continued efforts in this important educational topic continue. Thank you to all the educators who strive to support their students in every way possible and thank you for remembering and appreciating your school psychologist!...


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 11, 2020

Nineteen teachers volunteered to become 2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA Educator Day on the Hill, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is a new submission...

Show Up and Speak Out


Alexis Redford (front left) is one of nineteen
2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors
Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Alexis Redford, outreach teacher for the blind working in Canyons School District

Educator Day on the Hill is a whirlwind of suspense and excitement. Teachers from all across the state gather to meet their senators and representatives to advocate for teacher and student needs. What better person to explain such needs than teachers? While it can be uncomfortable to lobby for your needs and share your story, it is important to bridge the gap between teachers and legislators.

We can’t expect change to happen in our classrooms if we don’t show up and speak out. We know what we need and what would help make a difference better than anyone. Our presence on the hill, sharing our stories and advocating for what we need has a greater impact than we think…


Appropriations subcommittee proposes 4% WPU increase – February 11, 2020

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): Subcommittee co-chair Sen. Lyle Hillyard told the committee that they are currently recommending a 4% increase in the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU). That may change depending on how much money is available after all the requests, he said. The subcommittee continued to hear reports and budget requests, among them:


Resolution to encourage late-start high schools passes the House- February 10, 2020

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Two bills tracked by UEA were heard in House Education Committee today:

HB222: School Breakfast Participation Requirements creates the Smart Start Utah program that requires a public school participating in the National School Lunch program to also participate in the School Breakfast Program and to use an alternative breakfast service model if a certain percentage of student qualify for free or reduced lunch. However, the legislation also provides for a waiver so that a district that is struggling to meet the requirements of the program can be exempted. The bill passed with one no vote.

HB205: Students with Disabilities Amendments amends the formula for funding special education students. Currently, two-year lagged data is used to estimate the number of special education students in a district. The bill reduces that to one-year lagged data in order to be more accurate in and responsive to the growth of special education students. It passed unanimously.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB84: Traffic Code Amendments increases the minimum fines for penalties associated with passing a school bus displaying flashing lights. It passed the House on a vote of 64-10.

HB141: Educator Salary Incentive Program Amendments allows the Utah State Board of Education flexibility in funding the Teacher Salary Supplement program if more teachers apply and are approved than is funded by legislative appropriation. It also allows for licensed clinical social workers to receive Educator Salary Adjustment monies if they have a DOPL or education license. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HCR3: Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Consideration of a Later Start Time for High School encourages school districts and charter schools to consider the possible benefits and consequences of a later start to the school day for high schools. It passed the House on a vote of 51-20 and now goes to the Senate.



Huge turnout for Educator Day on the Hill – February 14, 2019

Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Mike Kelley): A beautiful sunny day combined with several school districts on recess meant a large turnout for UEA Educator Day on the Hill. Large contingents from Salt Lake Education Association and Granite Education Association made up about half of the group. Also represented were Box Elder, Davis, Jordan, Nebo, Ogden, Provo, Tintic, Uintah and Weber School Districts, as well as UEA Retired and the Utah School Employees Association. Nearly a quarter of the participants were attending for the first time.

Several legislators stopped by to visit with participants. Rep. Elizabeth Weight shared information about her bill (HB152) to eliminate the high school civics test. Sen. Kathleen Riebe provided some information about the education budget and other hot education issues.

During the lunch debrief meeting, Rep. Craig Hall talked about his request to the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee yesterday for a $1,000 teacher retention bonus using one-time money available this year. Rep. Marsha Judkins discussed her bill (HB205) to raise the caps on special education funding to accommodate the increasing number of SpEd students. Rep. Joel BriscoeRep. Patrice Arent also thanked teachers for their service and for taking the time to be on the Hill.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB205: Students with Disabilities Amendments amends the formula for funding special education students. Currently, two-year lagged data is used to estimate the number of special education students in a district. The bill reduces that to one-year lagged data in order to be more accurate in and responsive to the growth of special education students. The UEA supports this bill. It passed unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB222 (1st sub.): Start Smart Utah Breakfast Program creates the Start Smart Utah Program to expand access to school breakfast in public schools and requires a public school to use an alternative breakfast service model if a certain percentage of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. It passed the House on a vote of 51-20 and now goes to the Senate.


UEA-backed plans for scholarships and teacher bonuses among requests for one-time funding – February 13, 2020

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): The subcommittee heard almost two dozen requests for funding, including several targeted toward what is expected to be significant funds available for one year only:

  • USBE made its final budget proposals subject to adjustment after their board meeting today;
  • Two bills with fiscal impact were presented for committee information: SB104: Local Education Levy State Guarantee and SB99: School Leadership Development Amendments;
  • Teacher Retention Bonus, request amount: $33,281,000 one-time. Heidi Matthews spoke on behalf of UEA in support of this request (listen to Heidi’s teacher bonus comments)
  • UPSTART, request amount: $500,000 ongoing;
  • SheTech – High School Girls STEM Ed & Careers, request amount: $320,000 one-time; $320,000 ongoing;
  • Certified Teacher Librarians, request amount: $1,066,200 ongoing;
  • Dual Language Immersion, request amount: $5477,100 ongoing;
  • SB69: Tax Credit for Educators, request amount: $32,000,000 ongoing;
  • Utah Futures Funding, request amount: $1,390,000 ongoing; $1,010,000 one-time;
  • School Mental Health Amendments, request amount: $500,000 ongoing;
  • High School Robotics Grant Program, request amount: $800,000 one-time;
  • InifniD, request amount: $521,000 one-time;
  • First Tee Golf & Character Class, request amount: $43,750 one-time FY 2020 and $43,750 one-time FY 2021;
  • Millcreek Arts Education Center, request amount: $5,940,00 one-time;
  • Utah Anti-Bullying Coalition, request amount: $300,000 one-time;
  • School Fees Impact, request amount: $8,000,000 ongoing; $8,000,000 one-time;
  • 360 Mental Health Stabilization Program, request amount: $2,500,000 one-time;
  • Financial Literacy in Public Education, request amount: $500,000 ongoing;
  • Teacher Preparation Scholarship, request amount: $20,000,000 one-time. Heidi Matthews spoke on this appropriation as a creative opportunity to use one-time money in an ongoing way to address the teacher shortage (listen to Heidi’s teacher scholarship comments);
  • Adult Autism & Education Treatment, request amount: $1,500,000 one-time;
  • Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools, request amount: $481,000 ongoing;
  • Create Utah, request amount: $1,830,500 one-time;
  • Fiscal Analyst Ben Leishman presented a motion sheet for the committee to approve.

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Three bills were heard in the committee:

HB107 (2nd sub.): Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools Incentive Program Amendments was presented by Rep. Mike Winder. The bill expands an existing program that provides a stipend to highly effective teachers who teach in a high poverty school. Teachers qualify for the stipend based on student standardized test scores. The bill would qualify K-3 teachers by using an assessment like Acadience (formerly DIBELS). Sara Jones, representing the UEA, spoke about the problems with using a student test score to reward a few teachers rather than investing in instructional coaches, paraeducators, counselors or librarians to create effective instruction and student support throughout an entire school. The bill passed unanimously.

HB58: Electronic Cigarettes in Schools Amendments was presented by Rep. Susan Pulsipher. The bill addresses the growing problem of students vaping in school. It adds vaping to existing substance use prevention programs, requires schools to create plans to help prevent substance use and provide stipends to school personnel to administer the plan and requires districts to adopt discipline policies about possessing or using a vaping product on school grounds. Chase Clyde, representing the UEA, acknowledged the seriousness of the vaping problem and raised the concern the bill could potentially place educators in a difficult position by requiring them to “confiscate” and “destroy” vaping products. Rep Watkins, in response to UEA concerns, proposed a clarifying amendment that “school administrators or their designee” would be responsible for confiscating and destroying vaping products and school policy would provide for either the “confiscation or surrender” of a vaping product. The bill was amended and passed unanimously. 

HB80: School Fees Modifications was presented by Rep. Adam Robertson. He noted that the Utah constitution states that public schools will be free. Over the years, fees for curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular fees have become common. This bill would prohibit districts and charters from charging certain curricular student fees. The potential impact of the change could be a loss of tens of millions of dollars to schools and he noted this is the primary objection of education stakeholders. The bill would require a 25% reduction in fees annually for four years to transition away from the use of fees and he has also asked for an appropriation of $8 million annually over the four year to partially off-set the loss of fees. The committee voted to hold the bill.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): The House passed three UEA-tracked bills, which now go to the Senate for consideration.

HB14 (2nd sub.): School Absenteeism and Truancy Amendments establishes which absences from school are considered in determining if a minor is truant; replaces ages to which certain provisions related to truancy apply with grade levels to which the provisions apply; and limits the conditions under which a school district or charter school may impose administrative penalties on a school-age child who is truant. The UEA supports this bill. It passed on a vote of 63-5.

HB114 (2nd sub.): Early Learning Training and Assessment Amendments provides programs and assessments to improve early learning in literacy and mathematics. The bill passed the House on a vote of 39-31.

HB70: Repeal of Single-Mark Straight Ticket Voting removes provisions from the Election Code that allow an individual to cast a vote for all candidates from one political party without voting for the candidates individually. The UEA supports this bill. It passed on a vote of 46-26.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB16 (1st sub.): School Meals Program Amendments amends provisions to broaden the use of school lunch revenues to school meals. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes back to the House to concur with the substitute.


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 13, 2020

Nineteen teachers volunteered to become 2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA Educator Day on the Hill, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is a new submission...

A Tangible Difference


Alexandra Smith (center) is one of nineteen
2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors
Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Alexandra Smith, Spanish and ELL teacher at Sand Ridge Junior High in Weber School District

“…For my second visit to the Capitol, I was prepared. No longer was I overwhelmed, disillusioned and nervous. I spent my day helping two of my colleagues navigate their first visit and was able to meet with several state representatives as I moved about the complex. I had strong talking points and confidence that led to some very promising conversations. My voice mattered. My presence mattered. With this program, I have even more opportunities to make a real tangible difference in this profession which means so much to so many people.”


House votes unanimously to eliminate school grades – February 12, 2020

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Five UEA-tracked bills passed the committee and now go to the full Senate for consideration.

SB73: Reading Assessment Expansion Amendments was presented by Sen. Jerry Stevenson. The bill seeks an additional $1.5 million to expand Acadience (formerly DIBELS) assessment currently required in grades 1-3 to grades 1-6. It passed unanimously.

SB93 (1st sub.): Math and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers requests an additional $4.8 million to expand the USTAR program and changes the name to the Math and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers (MOST) program. The MOST program allows schools to offer expanded science and math programing for secondary students. Currently 95% of funds must go to teacher salaries and benefits. This bill expands the definition of “teacher” to “educator” to include coaches and other instructional personnel. It passed unanimously.

SB104: Local Education Levy State Guarantee Amendments was presented by Sen. Lincoln Fillmore. The bill increases the number of increments the state guarantees for certain education levies as a means of equalization. UEA has supported property tax equalization in other bills because they raised new revenue through property tax for schools. However, UEA opposes this bill because it funds the increased guarantees using $33 million in Education Fund monies that could otherwise go to the WPU. The WPU is the most equitable distribution source because it goes to all districts and charters and the guarantees do not. The bill passed with one no vote.

SB99: School Leadership Development Amendments was presented by Sen. Ann Milner. The bill requests $15 million for districts and charters to apply for grants to provide professional learning, training and mentoring for new principals and “aspiring” principals to improve principal leadership. During committee discussion it was clarified that the grant program could be scaled if the bill was funded at a level less than the requested $15 million. Sen. Kathleen Riebe raised the concern of how the grants would be prioritized to districts or charters that have the greatest need. It passed unanimously.

HJR2: Joint Resolution Recognizing School Bus Drivers was presented by Rep. Elizabeth Weight. The resolution supports the recognition of Utah school bus drivers for their dedication, leadership, student and parent relationships and technical skills. It passed unanimously.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB175: Education Accountability Amendments eliminates the use of a single letter grade for school accountability. It passed the House unanimously. The same bill easily passed the House in 2019 but was never debated in the Senate, which will be the challenge again this year.

HB99: Enhanced Kindergarten Amendments clarifies assessment and reporting requirements for optional extended-day Kindergarten programs and seeks to expand the availability of OEK programs with an additional $18 million in funding. While the UEA emphasizes significant increases to the WPU as the most flexible source of funding, the UEA supports this bill because a key UEA legislative priority is to improve student equity and access to quality education for students at academic risk, which the OEK program has been very successful in doing. The bill passed the House on a vote of 48-21 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB21: Education Amendments removes language requiring qualified teachers to submit an annual application for the through the Teacher Salary Supplement Program provided their situation doesn’t change. It also removes a requirement in the Educational Improvement Opportunities Outside of the Regular School Day Grant Program that matching funds be private. In addition, the bill amends a definition regarding a waiver of immunity related to sexual battery and sexual assault against a student under certain conditions. It passed the Senate unanimously and now moves to the House. The UEA supports this bill.

SB79: Regional Education Service Agencies changes existing Regional Service Centers to Regional Education Service Agencies, giving them a status similar to districts. For example, they would now be allowed to receive grants and manage programs that currently only flow to districts and charter schools and their employees could participate in the Utah Retirement System. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House.


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 12, 2020

Nineteen teachers volunteered to become 2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA Educator Day on the Hill, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is a new submission...

Supporting Educators and Students: Increase Access to Critical Professionals


Lauren Rich (second row, far left) is one of nineteen
2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors
Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Lauren Rich, related services supervisor for Davis School District

…My hope is that those making the staffing decisions in school districts and those in the legislature can help educators and students gain access to more school psychologists, as well as continue to support the growth of these equally critical professions. In order to make that a reality, I think the best place to start is simply remembering school psychologists! More often than not I think this group of professionals is overlooked simply because we are not as well known as our counterparts the counselor and social worker. You can be an incredible aid in this by discussing the value your school psychologist brings to you as an educator and your students with your district/building administrators, your community members, and your representatives…

UEA’s priorities this year do a fantastic job of highlighting how a 6% WPU increase would bring great benefits to the educators and students of Utah. One of them being this flexibility in spending would allow LEA’s and districts to invest in professionals such as school psychologists. I commend UEA for including this in their priorities and I am excited to see the continued efforts in this important educational topic continue. Thank you to all the educators who strive to support their students in every way possible and thank you for remembering and appreciating your school psychologist!...


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 11, 2020

Nineteen teachers volunteered to become 2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA Educator Day on the Hill, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is a new submission...

Show Up and Speak Out


Alexis Redford (front left) is one of nineteen
2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors
Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Alexis Redford, outreach teacher for the blind working in Canyons School District

Educator Day on the Hill is a whirlwind of suspense and excitement. Teachers from all across the state gather to meet their senators and representatives to advocate for teacher and student needs. What better person to explain such needs than teachers? While it can be uncomfortable to lobby for your needs and share your story, it is important to bridge the gap between teachers and legislators.

We can’t expect change to happen in our classrooms if we don’t show up and speak out. We know what we need and what would help make a difference better than anyone. Our presence on the hill, sharing our stories and advocating for what we need has a greater impact than we think…


Appropriations subcommittee proposes 4% WPU increase – February 11, 2020

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): Subcommittee co-chair Sen. Lyle Hillyard told the committee that they are currently recommending a 4% increase in the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU). That may change depending on how much money is available after all the requests, he said. The subcommittee continued to hear reports and budget requests, among them:


Resolution to encourage late-start high schools passes the House- February 10, 2020

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Two bills tracked by UEA were heard in House Education Committee today:

HB222: School Breakfast Participation Requirements creates the Smart Start Utah program that requires a public school participating in the National School Lunch program to also participate in the School Breakfast Program and to use an alternative breakfast service model if a certain percentage of student qualify for free or reduced lunch. However, the legislation also provides for a waiver so that a district that is struggling to meet the requirements of the program can be exempted. The bill passed with one no vote.

HB205: Students with Disabilities Amendments amends the formula for funding special education students. Currently, two-year lagged data is used to estimate the number of special education students in a district. The bill reduces that to one-year lagged data in order to be more accurate in and responsive to the growth of special education students. It passed unanimously.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB84: Traffic Code Amendments increases the minimum fines for penalties associated with passing a school bus displaying flashing lights. It passed the House on a vote of 64-10.

HB141: Educator Salary Incentive Program Amendments allows the Utah State Board of Education flexibility in funding the Teacher Salary Supplement program if more teachers apply and are approved than is funded by legislative appropriation. It also allows for licensed clinical social workers to receive Educator Salary Adjustment monies if they have a DOPL or education license. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HCR3: Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Consideration of a Later Start Time for High School encourages school districts and charter schools to consider the possible benefits and consequences of a later start to the school day for high schools. It passed the House on a vote of 51-20 and now goes to the Senate.