Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Mike Kelley): About 75 education professionals joined members of the UEA Legislative Team early Friday morning for Educator Day on the Hill at the State Capitol. Participants came from Alpine, Davis, Emery, Grand, Granite, Jordan, Nebo, Ogden, Park City, Tooele, Wasatch, Washington and Weber School Districts, as well as UEA-Retired, the Utah School Employees Association and the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. The group included teachers representing Hope Street Group Utah Teacher Fellows and 2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors.
Meetings began early with instructions on how to speak to legislators, a discussion of current education issues and visits by Rep. Dan Johnson and Rep. Lowry Snow. Rep. Snow explained his bills to expand funding for Optional Extended-day Kindergarten (HB99) and to collect data on school absences and truancy (HB14). Attendees then participated in a morning meeting of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee.
During floor time in the House and Senate, EDOH participants took the opportunity to meet with their legislators. At lunchtime, Rep. Marie Poulson, Rep. Joel Briscoe, Rep. Marsha Judkins, and Sen. Kathleen Riebe stopped by to share information about bills. Rep. Poulson shared information about her bill to eliminate the requirement to publish school grades (HB175). Sen. Riebe, who is a member of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee, said she has heard no opposition to adding 6 percent on the Weighted Pupil Unit. “I think we may be able to do it,” she said.
Many attendees reported on their interactions with legislators and their experiences. “I was very nervous, but it turned out to be a great experience. I learned a lot,” said a first-time Educator Day on the Hill attendee. “Having UEA to provide a tracking sheet and explain everything that’s going on is priceless,” said another participant.
Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): SB69 Tax Credit for Educator Expenses would provide a refundable individual income tax credit up to $1,000 that an eligible teacher may claim for certain out-of-pocket classroom expenses. The bill passed the committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): The subcommittee continued to hear budget reports:
- An Informal Science Education Enhancement (iSEE) presentation and iSEE funding request;
- Additional Utah State Board of Education funding requests;
- A budget review for Regional Service Centers;
- A USBE budget review for Necessarily Existent Small Schools (NESS) and NESS presentation;
- Two school district business administrators Todd Hauber, Park City, and Leon Wilcox, Canyons, gave an update on funding of Other Post-Employment Benefits (they noted that in 2013, 49.7% of districts had funded their benefits and it is now 74.5%); and
- An update on Safe and Healthy Schools including HB 373 from last year’s session.
House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HCR5: Concurrent Resolution Designating Utah Education Support Professionals designates the Wednesday during the week prior to the Thanksgiving holiday as “Utah Education Support Professionals Day.” It passed unanimously.