UEA-backed plans for scholarships and teacher bonuses among requests for one-time funding – February 13, 2020

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): The subcommittee heard almost two dozen requests for funding, including several targeted toward what is expected to be significant funds available for one year only:

 

  • USBE made its final budget proposals subject to adjustment after their board meeting today;
  • Two bills with fiscal impact were presented for committee information: SB104: Local Education Levy State Guarantee and SB99: School Leadership Development Amendments;
  • Teacher Retention Bonus, request amount: $33,281,000 one-time. Heidi Matthews spoke on behalf of UEA in support of this request (listen to Heidi’s teacher bonus comments)
  • UPSTART, request amount: $500,000 ongoing;
  • SheTech – High School Girls STEM Ed & Careers, request amount: $320,000 one-time; $320,000 ongoing;
  • Certified Teacher Librarians, request amount: $1,066,200 ongoing;
  • Dual Language Immersion, request amount: $5477,100 ongoing;
  • SB69: Tax Credit for Educators, request amount: $32,000,000 ongoing;
  • Utah Futures Funding, request amount: $1,390,000 ongoing; $1,010,000 one-time;
  • School Mental Health Amendments, request amount: $500,000 ongoing;
  • High School Robotics Grant Program, request amount: $800,000 one-time;
  • InifniD, request amount: $521,000 one-time;
  • First Tee Golf & Character Class, request amount: $43,750 one-time FY 2020 and $43,750 one-time FY 2021;
  • Millcreek Arts Education Center, request amount: $5,940,00 one-time;
  • Utah Anti-Bullying Coalition, request amount: $300,000 one-time;
  • School Fees Impact, request amount: $8,000,000 ongoing; $8,000,000 one-time;
  • 360 Mental Health Stabilization Program, request amount: $2,500,000 one-time;
  • Financial Literacy in Public Education, request amount: $500,000 ongoing;
  • Teacher Preparation Scholarship, request amount: $20,000,000 one-time. Heidi Matthews spoke on this appropriation as a creative opportunity to use one-time money in an ongoing way to address the teacher shortage (listen to Heidi’s teacher scholarship comments);
  • Adult Autism & Education Treatment, request amount: $1,500,000 one-time;
  • Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools, request amount: $481,000 ongoing;
  • Create Utah, request amount: $1,830,500 one-time;
  • Fiscal Analyst Ben Leishman presented a motion sheet for the committee to approve.

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Three bills were heard in the committee:

HB107 (2nd sub.): Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools Incentive Program Amendments was presented by Rep. Mike Winder. The bill expands an existing program that provides a stipend to highly effective teachers who teach in a high poverty school. Teachers qualify for the stipend based on student standardized test scores. The bill would qualify K-3 teachers by using an assessment like Acadience (formerly DIBELS). Sara Jones, representing the UEA, spoke about the problems with using a student test score to reward a few teachers rather than investing in instructional coaches, paraeducators, counselors or librarians to create effective instruction and student support throughout an entire school. The bill passed unanimously.

HB58: Electronic Cigarettes in Schools Amendments was presented by Rep. Susan Pulsipher. The bill addresses the growing problem of students vaping in school. It adds vaping to existing substance use prevention programs, requires schools to create plans to help prevent substance use and provide stipends to school personnel to administer the plan and requires districts to adopt discipline policies about possessing or using a vaping product on school grounds. Chase Clyde, representing the UEA, acknowledged the seriousness of the vaping problem and raised the concern the bill could potentially place educators in a difficult position by requiring them to “confiscate” and “destroy” vaping products. Rep Watkins, in response to UEA concerns, proposed a clarifying amendment that “school administrators or their designee” would be responsible for confiscating and destroying vaping products and school policy would provide for either the “confiscation or surrender” of a vaping product. The bill was amended and passed unanimously.

HB80: School Fees Modifications was presented by Rep. Adam Robertson. He noted that the Utah constitution states that public schools will be free. Over the years, fees for curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular fees have become common. This bill would prohibit districts and charters from charging certain curricular student fees. The potential impact of the change could be a loss of tens of millions of dollars to schools and he noted this is the primary objection of education stakeholders. The bill would require a 25% reduction in fees annually for four years to transition away from the use of fees and he has also asked for an appropriation of $8 million annually over the four year to partially off-set the loss of fees. The committee voted to hold the bill.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): The House passed three UEA-tracked bills, which now go to the Senate for consideration.

HB14 (2nd sub.): School Absenteeism and Truancy Amendments establishes which absences from school are considered in determining if a minor is truant; replaces ages to which certain provisions related to truancy apply with grade levels to which the provisions apply; and limits the conditions under which a school district or charter school may impose administrative penalties on a school-age child who is truant. The UEA supports this bill. It passed on a vote of 63-5.

HB114 (2nd sub.): Early Learning Training and Assessment Amendments provides programs and assessments to improve early learning in literacy and mathematics. The bill passed the House on a vote of 39-31.

HB70: Repeal of Single-Mark Straight Ticket Voting removes provisions from the Election Code that allow an individual to cast a vote for all candidates from one political party without voting for the candidates individually. The UEA supports this bill. It passed on a vote of 46-26.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB16 (1st sub.): School Meals Program Amendments amends provisions to broaden the use of school lunch revenues to school meals. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes back to the House to concur with the substitute.

 

UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 13, 2020

Nineteen teachers volunteered to become 2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA Educator Day on the Hill, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is a new submission…

 

A Tangible Difference

 

Alexandra Smith (center) is one of nineteen
2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Alexandra Smith, Spanish and ELL teacher at Sand Ridge Junior High in Weber School District

 

“…For my second visit to the Capitol, I was prepared. No longer was I overwhelmed, disillusioned and nervous. I spent my day helping two of my colleagues navigate their first visit and was able to meet with several state representatives as I moved about the complex. I had strong talking points and confidence that led to some very promising conversations. My voice mattered. My presence mattered. With this program, I have even more opportunities to make a real tangible difference in this profession which means so much to so many people.”

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