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Private school vouchers fail big in House vote – February 28

Today’s highlights…

  • 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:

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): The following UEA-tracked bills were heard in the House:

 

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:

Taking an Active Role Doesn’t Need to be Hard

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:

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