- Vouchers voted down: The House substituted the private school voucher bill, HB331, with a new bill softening the financial impact on public schools and adding a level of academic accountability then voted 22-53 against the bill.
- ‘Time’ request increased and passed: The Executive Appropriations Committee requested and Senate Education Committee unanimously passed a new version of House Bill 396 that more than doubles the previously proposed amount allocated for flexible, educator-directed paid time.
- 9% overall proposed ed budget increase: The draft final budget bill allocates a 6.1% total WPU increase, $64 million for Educator Professional Time (HB396), $10 million for teacher bonuses, an allocation for menstrual hygiene produces in public schools and $31 million for early literacy and full-day kindergarten programs.
Executive Appropriations Committee (reported by Jay Blain – NOTE: with apologies to Jay and readers…in the rush to send a very lengthy report on Friday, this report was omitted on Feb. 25): The Executive Appropriations Committee made final recommendations for the fiscal year 2022-23 budget (see p. 10 for education). There still will be adjustments made to the budget made before the legislature adjourns Friday, March 4, at midnight, but here are some highlights from the Public Education section:
- Overall, the new money appropriated is $168.7 million ongoing and $270.9 million one-time…about a 9% increase in the overall public education budget.
- $124.6 million for the state’s basic school formula, bringing the total increase in the value of the WPU to 6.1%.
- $91.5 million for development projects, including systemic earthquake upgrades to improve schools (HB475)
- $64 million for Educator Professional Time (this is the UEA-initiated HB396)
- $10 million in one-time funds for teacher bonuses to those with extra assignments.
- $2.3 million in one-time money to provide free menstrual hygiene products in Utah public schools.
- $9.6 million ongoing and $9.4 million one-time spending for early literacy outcomes improvements to increase 3rd-grade reading scores across the state (SB127)
- $12.2 million in ongoing funding for school districts to provide optional full-day kindergarten.
- $4 million in one-time and $4 million in ongoing appropriations for UPSTART, an at-home kindergarten readiness program to prepare preschool-age children for kindergarten.
- $3.2 million in one-time money for a statewide online education program.
- $1.2 million in ongoing funding to expand the SafeUT crisis app, chat and tip line that provides real-time crisis intervention for students.
Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): In its final scheduled meeting, the Senate Education Committee heard eight UEA-tracked bills. Four Senate bills were heard for the first time. Three passed unanimously on to the full Senate. Four of the five bills that had previously passed the House passed the committee unanimously:
- SB251: Grow Your Own Teacher and School Counselor Pipeline Program corrects a technical error that excluded some participants from the Grow Your Own educator program last year.
- SB245: School Turnaround Program Revisions is a bill requested by the State Board to revise the existing School Turnaround program. It renames participating schools as “springboard” schools and gives other schools the ability to opt-in as “elevate” schools.
- SB244: Ethnic Studies Amendments creates a legislative Ethnic Studies Commission to make recommendations to the State Board on incorporating ethnic studies into the core standards, among other duties. There was extensive public comment both in favor and against the bill.
- SB257: Divisive Concepts in Government and Education took an interesting turn. After a presentation by the bill sponsor Sen. John Johnson and a couple of questions by the committee, Sen. Kathleen Riebe moved to adjourn which passed on a 3-2 vote. That ended debate without any public comment and without any vote on the bill itself.
- HB396 (1st sub.): Paid Professional Hours for Educators was substituted with language that doubled the allocation amount. The bill now allocates $64 million for licensed educators to receive flexible, educator-directed paid time for job-related duties performed outside of contract time. This is a priority bill for the UEA.
- HB386 (1st sub.): Education Innovation Program creates a process for an educator to propose an innovation program to their district for approval.
- HB380: School Enrollment Amendments changes the enrollment window for students who are not within the school boundaries to begin two weeks earlier. The UEA supports this bill.
- HB420: Title IX Reporting creates a requirement for schools to report the number of students participating in gender-designated sports as well as the amount of money spent on each sport.
- HB356 (2nd sub.): Athletic Coaching Standards Amendments requires an LEA to develop coaching standards for high school athletic coaches. The UEA opposes this bill. It was discussed in the committee and then a motion was made to move to the next item on the agenda, which has the effect of holding the bill in the committee.
House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): The following UEA-tracked bills were heard in the House:
- HB331 (5th sub.): Hope Scholarship Program, the private-school voucher bill, was substituted in an attempt to address concerns it takes funding from public schools and lacks accountability. In the end, the changes were not enough to sway many House members and the bill failed on a vote of 22-53.
- HB422 (1st sub.): School District Voter Eligibility Amendments allows local school boards to vote to allow students who are 16 and 17 years old to vote in local school board elections. The bill failed on a vote of 29-46.
- HB103: Student Intervention Early Warning Program converts the student intervention early warning pilot program into an ongoing program. The UEA supports this bill. It passed unanimously and now goes to the Senate.
- HB417 (1st sub.): Online Course Access Amendments requires the State Board of Education to use funds from an appropriation to the Statewide Online Education Program to pay an online course fee for a student attending a small school. It passed unanimously and now goes to the Senate.
- HB481 (1st sub.): Education Reporting Amendments modifies two reports: Digital Teaching and Learning and Early Learning. It passed unanimously and now goes to the Senate.
Policy Ambassador Messages
In 2022, 15 educators were selected as UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and agree to engage with legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is an excerpt from a new submission:
Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Ray Smalley, agriculture teacher at Roy High School in Weber School District
“…By nature, I am the kind of person that likes to sit back and observe before I open my mouth and step into something. I was able to do that, but I was also given the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and take part in conveying my story and my message to those who vote on the issues that affect me. I learned how to approach and contact a representative and was briefed on the issues at hand. I would have to say though that my biggest take away from this experience was that if I want to have a voice, I have one, and it is a relatively simple process. Spending a day on the Hill was much less intimidating than I imagined…”
Upcoming Legislation to Watch
Just one bill is on the agenda for the final scheduled House Education Committee meeting at 9 a.m., March 1:
- SB191 (1st sub.): Regulatory Sandbox in Education. The UEA opposes this bill.
- See the 2022 UEA Legislative Tracking Sheet for the current bills tracked by UEA.
- View all legislative happenings at UEA Under the Dome.