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2012 Interim Sessions

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2012 Legislative Interim Sessions

Education Interim Committee, Special Session - June 20, 2012

On Wednesday, June 20, the Utah Legislature held its regular Interim Committee meetings in addition to a Special Session to address an education funding issue.

Education Interim Committee (Reported by Jay Blain): In the Education Interim Committee there was a report given on HB148, the public lands bill passed during the 2012 general session. Kathleen Clark, director of the Public Lands Commission, and Rep. Ken Ivory were the presenters. Clark said it is important to remember the bill didn’t have any provisions for direct action, although it does require staff to prepare a bill to create a public lands commission for next year’s session. Rep. Ivory gave a historical presentation.

Next on the agenda was the public education supplemental funding bill for the special session. Ben Leishman, legislative fiscal analyst, reviewed the bill. The bill corrects the underestimation of growth made by the USOE and fixes errors in technical amendments made in a trust lands bill passed in the 2012 general session. It is important to note that no appropriated programs were cut, but it is one-time money. As a result, the state will face a structural deficit of ongoing funding of $25.3 million for next year. In other words, the education budget essentially starts $25 million dollars behind at the beginning of the 2013 session.

The Committee then discussed the possibility of moving a College and Career Ready Testing bill in this afternoon’s special session. Sen. Lyle Hillyard pointed out that the problem might be that this issue is not specifically named on the call. Legal counsel says there is room in the call to do this and the risk is low for a challenge to moving the bill. Rep. Carol Moss said it would be a big step backward to go back to the UBSCT. Sen. Karen Morgan added that we need to take care of this issue now. Rep. Patrice Arent moved to support the bill in Special Session if it is considered there. The motion passed on a close vote.

Special Session (Reported by Jay Blain): In the Senate, Sen. Aaron Osmond introduced SB4003: New School Year Supplemental Public Education Budget Adjustments, a bill that corrects the underestimation of growth by the USOE and explained where money is coming from and how the $25 million will be made up. He explained that it is important to note that the state will have a structural imbalance next year because this is one-time money funding on-going costs. The bill also contains a technical fix to a trust lands item that doesn't affect anything substantial. Sen. Lyle Hillyard, expressed appreciation to the Utah State Board of Education for taking ownership of the error and for taking corrective action. He explained that the public education budget always has some padding in case of emergencies. This will not cut any existing appropriations from anything currently appropriated.

The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 26-1. It passed the House unanimously.

Education Interim Committee - Sept. 19, 2012

Education Interim Committee (Reported by Jay Blain): In the Education Interim Committee a report was given on the Carson Smith scholarships. Glenna Gallo from the Utah State Office of Education provided the following numbers: in 2010 there were 686 students participating, in 2011 747 students, and 715 students last year. Every year starts out with more students than available scholarships but by the end of the year, everyone is served. Parents and guardians provide $0-$10,000, depending on the severity of the disability of the student or school structure.

Linda Simmons, former principal of Hartvigsen School in Granite School District gave testimony saying, “Sometimes we think that there is a magic bullet and that they will be cured, but it is a slow and difficult process.” She spoke strongly as an advocate for the public school special education programs. “We need to support, train and reward those who are in the public system,” she added.

Next were a presentation and discussion about High Quality Preschool and a bill that Sen. Aaron Osmond plans to run in the 2013 Legislative Session. He said that Special Education spending has double the growth rate of regular education and an investment in High Quality Preschool would provide an excellent return on investment in this area.

Research was presented in regards to the Granite School District and their Early Reading First grant and the effect on children and K-3 academic outcomes. There were very positive results in favor of high quality preschool. The standards that must be met to ensure high quality preschool were also presented. Sen. Lyle Hillyard raised concern about how to fund this pilot program.

An update on UPSTART was given. This is a program that puts software and, if needed, computers into the homes of preschool children. Rep. Carol Moss suggested that these funds should be dedicated to at-risk children only instead of available to everybody.

Sydnee Dickson from the USOE presented on teacher quality and educator evaluation. She mentioned the need for increased funding to school districts to implement the new evaluation framework.

There was a discussion about the process to replace the state superintendent. Chair of the State Board Debra Roberts informed the committee that more stakeholders would be involved in the process than the last time and the State Board thought that it was extremely important to have the new superintendent in place well before the 2013 Legislative Session.

The topic of U-PASS reporting requirements was discussed. State Supt. Larry Shumway said that even though it is complex and burdensome, USOE will follow the law. He also suggested that the statute should be reviewed and fixed in the next legislative session.

A report on the possible effect of the federal sequestration was given to the committee. If carried out, the state of Utah could lose at least $33 million beginning in the 2013-14 school year. That amount could double the next year.

Education Interim Committee - Nov. 14, 2012

Education Interim Committee (Reported by Jay Blain): In the Education Interim Committee , David Pershing , the new President of the University of Utah was recognized. He spoke about his priorities for the University. He said he wants to maintain the strengths of research while focusing on undergraduates; keeping the University accessible and affordable for those who are prepared to attend.

Rep. Steve Handy presented a bill on Voted and Board Leeway , which allows the full amount appropriated to be spent, which has not been the case in the past.

Sen. Howard Stephenson presented a School Reporting Amendments bill that contained one section of great concern to UEA. The section would require the state to report teacher-level student growth (test) scores. Rep. Marie Poulson asked if these scores will be reported for only tested subjects and grades. The answer was ‘yes.’ She then asked what percent of teachers is that. The answer was about 30 percent.

UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh spoke against the bill . She expressed concerns over the confidentiality of teacher and student information. Also, she explained that in other areas of the country where student scores have been released, the results have been disastrous. There was no other public comment. Sen. Karen Morgan made a motion to move to the next item on the agenda, that motion passed, and therefore, no action was taken on this bill at this time.

Listen to UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh's testimony )

Sen. Daniel Thatcher presented legislation that would provide more transparency on school-level financial information. It would require schools to standardize their reporting and use the state transparency website.

Sen. Stephenson presented a proposal that would allow the State Charter Board to issue a Request for Proposals for four types of charter schools outside of the cap on enrollment capacity normally in place. The four types are: 1) single-gender; 2) military; 3) focusing on at-risk students; or 4) CTE focus.

The Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind reported on their programs . They said 90 percent of the children entering their infant programs are mainstreamed into neighborhood schools by third grade.

Judy Park from the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) reported on the difference between CRT score and NAEP scores and how they measure different things because they are using different standards.

The online school survey pilot will begin after the end of the first semester in January, according to Sydnee Dickson from USOE. The contract was awarded to the Utah Education Policy Center , which is in the process of finalizing the survey content.