Committee Approves Education Funding Proposal; Individual Freedom Bill Advances

On February 24, the Executive Appropriations Committee met to approve the Additional Proposed Funding Items.

Here are the highlighted items for the 2023 Public Education Budget:

Ongoing Items:

  • WPU increase $104 million (Combined with base budget, the WPU increase is now 6%)
  • Full day Kindergarten $25 million
  • At-Risk Students WPU Weighting Increase $25,850,000
  • Public Education Equalization $19,092,000

One-time Items:

  • Educator-directed Paid Professional Hours $64 million
  • Flexible School Safety, Physical Facility, & Capital Needs $75 million
  • Flexible Funding WPU Distribution to 4th-6th Class County Schools $30 million
  • Grow Your Own Teacher & Counselor Pipeline $7,150,000

There may be other items when a new list of funded items will be released during the last week of the session.  In addition, intent language dealing with funded items will be visible when the budget bills are released next week.

Also on Friday, the House Education Committee passed on a party-line vote on HB427 (Individual Freedom in Public Education) sponsored by Rep. Tim Jimenez (R-Tooele). The bill prohibits teachers from “subject[ing] a student to instruction that…forces the student to change a sincerely held belief, value or standard that is taught in the student’s home” or to “attempt to persuade a student to a point of view that is inconsistent with” principles of individual freedom outlined in the bill.

UEA Director Sara Jones spoke in opposition to the bill stating that “these terms are so vague and totally lacking in definition the result is to seriously hinder teaching and learning. No discussion of different opinions, no debate of ideas, and the results are students with no critical thinking skills.”

As of February 27, the bill is scheduled for a second reading in the House.