WEEK IN REVIEW: February 10-14, 2020
About a quarter of those attending Educator Day
on the Hill Feb. 14 were there for the first time
The number of education-related bills tracked by UEA ballooned to 57 by the end of Week Three. Bills moving through the process included a unanimous House vote to eliminate grading of schools, a resolution to encourage later starts for high schools and an expansion of Optional Extended-Day Kindergarten programs.
The subcommittee charged with recommending a public education budget hinted at a 4% increase on the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) despite unified public education stakeholder requests for a 6% WPU bump.
4% on the WPU? Budget discussions continue
Rep. Craig Hall was among several legislators
who stopped by to speak with EDOH participants
The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee has yet to make its formal proposals for increased public education funding, however, Subcommittee co-chair Sen. Lyle Hillyard told the committee that they are currently recommending a 4% increase in the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU). That may change depending on how much money is available after all the requests, he said.
During the week, the Subcommittee heard dozens of new education funding requests. Among the requests for one-time funding were a request for $33 million for a teacher retention bonus (listen to the teacher bonus presentation here) and $20 million to endow a teacher preparation scholarship (listen to the scholarship presentation here). UEA President Heidi Matthews spoke in favor of these two requests as ways to use one-time money to enhance public education.
House votes unanimously to eliminate school grades
HB175: Education Accountability Amendments eliminates the use of a single letter grade for school accountability. It passed the House unanimously. The same bill easily passed the House in 2019 but was never debated in the Senate, which will be the challenge again this year.
Other bills of note moving through the legislature during Week Three included the following:
Rep. Jen Dailey-Provost visits with SLEA
members during EDOH
HB14 (2nd sub.): School Absenteeism and Truancy Amendments establishes which absences from school are considered in determining if a minor is truant 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 the House on a vote of 63-5.
HB58: Electronic Cigarettes in Schools Amendments adds vaping to existing substance use prevention programs. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
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 the House on a vote of 46-26.
HB99: Enhanced Kindergarten Amendments clarifies assessment and reporting requirements for optional extended-day Kindergarten programs and seeks to expand the availability of OEK programs with an additional $18 million in funding. It passed the House on a vote of 48-21 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
HB107 (2nd sub.): Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools Incentive Program Amendments expands an existing program that provides a stipend to highly effective teachers who teach in a high poverty school. Sara Jones, representing the UEA, spoke in the House Education Committee 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. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
HCR3: Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Consideration of a Later Start Time for High School encourages school districts and charter schools to consider the possible benefits and consequences of a later start to the school day for high schools. It passed the House on a vote of 51-20 and now goes to the Senate.
HJR2: Joint Resolution Recognizing School Bus Drivers supports the recognition of Utah school bus drivers for their dedication, leadership, student and parent relationships and technical skills. It passed the House unanimously.
SB21: Education Amendments removes language requiring qualified teachers to submit an annual application for the Teacher Salary Supplement Program provided their situation doesn’t change. It passed the Senate unanimously and now moves to the House. The UEA supports this bill.
SB104: Local Education Levy State Guarantee Amendments increases the number of increments the state guarantees for certain education levies as a means of equalization. UEA has supported property tax equalization in other bills because they raised new revenue through property tax for schools. However, UEA opposes this bill because it funds the increased guarantees using Education Fund money that could otherwise go to the WPU. It passed the Senate Education Committee with one no vote.
Nearly 100 participate in Educator Day on the Hill
Salt Lake Education Association members at EDOH
Despite it being Valentine’s Day, a beautiful sunny day combined with several school districts on recess meant a large turnout for UEA Educator Day on the Hill. Large contingents from Salt Lake Education Association and Granite Education Association made up about half of the nearly 100 in attendance. Also represented were Box Elder, Davis, Jordan, Nebo, Ogden, Provo, Tintic, Uintah and Weber School Districts, as well as UEA Retired and the Utah School Employees Association. Nearly a quarter of the participants were attending for the first time.
Education ‘Policy Ambassadors’ Share Lobbying Experiences
|Nineteen educators volunteered to be 2020 UEA Policy Ambassadors|
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 are a few excerpts from this week’s submissions (click the title to read the full article)…
- A Tangible Difference – by 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.”
- Supporting Educators and Students: Increase Access to Critical Professionals – by Lauren Rich, related services supervisor for Davis School District
“UEA’s priorities this year do a fantastic job of highlighting how a 6% WPU increase would bring great benefits to the educators and students of Utah. One of them being this flexibility in spending would allow LEA’s and districts to invest in professionals such as school psychologists.”
- Show Up and Speak Out – by Alexis Redford, outreach teacher for the blind working in Canyons School District
“We can’t expect change to happen in our classrooms if we don’t show up and speak out. We know what we need and what would help make a difference better than anyone. Our presence on the hill, sharing our stories and advocating for what we need has a greater impact than we think.”