Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Educator Day on the Hill - February 5, 2014

Represented today by Holly Peregoy from Silver Crest and Herriman Elementary, Carol Whittaker from Jordan Ridge, and Erin Pack-Jordan from Corner Canyon High in Canyons School District.  Mike Anderson, Administrator of Schools for Jordan District, Kayleen Whitelock, Jordan School Board member, and Tracey Miller from Jordan PTA were also at the legislature today.

Public Education Appropriations Committee meeting.

 Utah State Board of Education priorities. Full funding of growth at $64 million, increase WPU by 2.7% at $73 million (COLA, retirement and inflation increases). 

Ongoing expenses: secondary math PD at $5 million, early reading intervention K-3 at $20 million, state office staffing (IT, attorney, auditors) at $2.1 million, graduation initiative to pay for counselors at $8 million, school climate (suicide and bully prevention) at $2 million, core academy $5 million, concurrent enrollment at $1.5 million, high cost SpEd students at $1.5 million.

One time expenses: school improvement at $10 million, 1-to-1 device initiative at $50 million, evaluation implementation at $450,000, innovative transportation at $20 million, Beverly Taylor Sorenson Arts initiative $5 million, teacher supplies at $5 million.

Senator Stephenson stated that these are realistic funding requests. Representative Powell pointed out about Speaker Lockhart's technology initiative. Would like to see the 1-to-1 roll out quicker at a much higher cost. Senator Hillyard asked about the WPU request. May need more to match other public employees increases.  There are needs for necessarily small districts. This is formula driven. A lot of one time money need to build buildings for higher education. Attorney needs to come through district attorney's office.

Rep. Eliason asked about priorities. They were numbered in the order listed above. $6.2 million was deducted on 1040 by about 25,000 Utah teachers in 2012. This deduction expired. He would like to add money to teacher supplies to fill this hole. Rep. Briscoe said there is a separate line item for state employees' health insurance and retirement increases, but that is not in place for educators. Understands WPU would need to be increased by 3% to cover these for school employees. He brought up that up until 3 years ago, educator retirement increases were covered by a separate line item.

Rep. Handy asked about the innovative transportation. This would be for natural gas/clear air initiative. School districts would need to match funds. Rep. Moss asked about counselor ratio and student advocates (trackers, mentors, etc.).  Lots of questions about the various line items.

Committee wants state office to reestablish priorities.

Requests were made by the charter school board and Utah School for Deaf and Blind.  Need technology, new phone system, IT infrastructure. Senator Osmond asked about funding for a USDB building that is now in the infrastructure Committee. Motion to move this one time request to Public Education Appropriations. This building would cost $12 million. Money does come from infrastructure budget, but should be an education priority.

State office priority for 5 PD days added to calendar.

 At Utah democrats education press conference. Rep. Briscoe introduced education priorities. Senator Mayne is asking for funds for high need para educators and money to help students pay for AP classes and tests. Rep. Cosgrove sponsoring bill to restore some teacher professional development days. Also need long-term sustainable funding. Senator Jones spoke about SB118 which allows two child exemptions and phases out the rest with the money going directly to schools. Rep. Hemingway has bill that tracks students in military schools that attend school for some time in Utah. Rep. Romero has bill on giving teachers professional development days with local schools deciding on what is needed.

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