Meeting hosted by Chris Bleak, UAPCS Board Member because Royce Van Tassell was out of town.
Karen Peterson, Utah House of Representatives - District 13
Ms. Peterson reported on the great year for public education in the Legislature. Highlights include an increase in the WPU at 6%, teacher pay raises, full-day kindergarten fully funded, school safety issues address, and increase in the permanent school fund.
Constitutional Earmark. Ms. Peterson explained the conversation around school funding sources should be around getting money to schools, and not what the source of the money is. An amendment to the constitution (SJR10) changes the funding source of public education and creates priorities to make sure that education is adequately funded. It frees up income tax to be used to fund other programs in addition to education and serving those with disabilities. These priorities include:
- To fund new student growth
- To fund inflation
- Budget stabilization. This holds education harmless by funding it first before other income tax funds can be used for something else.
Student growth is expected to be flat, and possibly decline, in the next 10 years. This amendment, if passed, will make sure that the WPU spending does not decline, and that increased costs will hold up for 5 years. If passed, WPU base funding will increase by 2% to get on top of inflationary growth.
Constraints on the general fund also demand tying in removal of the food tax to this amendment as well. Funding issues must be combined to allow moving funds to cover all the expenses of the government appropriately using all revenue sources (property tax, income tax, etc.)
Ms. Peterson also discussed HB 249 about education records. It addresses school safety and parental involvement by doing the following:
- USIMS-Utah school management software will add a record to which the parent can add notes about the student which will help school personnel.
- Parent Portal- USBE will have a webpage for parents with state-wide school information and links to schools and resources for public education.
- Parent Navigator-USBE will have a webpage with information for parents about where to address complaints/issues.
- Provide support to build capacity for employees at individual LEAs to help with parent engagement at the local level.
Sarah Reale, Utah State School Board - District 5
Ms. Reale has been in education for 20 years. She is the Director of Digital Marketing and an adjunct professor of political science at Salt Lake Community College. Her priorities on the USBE include the following:
- Teachers-She wants to be sure we focus on retention and recruitment of good teachers. We need to make sure they have space to innovate. We need to trust our teachers.
- P20 Pipeline-We need to be sure that students are aware of all their educational options. With so many school choices, we need to help students be aware of all the post-secondary degree options and the paths to those choices.
- Students-Ms. Reale’s school board district is the most diverse and low-income in Utah. She recognizes students are different and that learning has changed. Education must address these changes in learning styles and support mental health issues that many students face as well.
- Local Control-Ms. Reale believes that decisions should be made as close to the student as possible.
When asked about working with the range of opinions on the current board, Ms. Reale stated that collaboration and willingness to get work done are key elements to unify the board. She has found heading down rabbit holes in meetings is ineffective. Ms. Reale believes that her purpose is to represent the will of her constituents.
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Legislative Updates-See 2023 Legislative Summary HERE
Chris Bleak-UAPCS Board Member-Chris shared the UAPCS 2023 Legislative Summary. Some highlights include the following:
- Salary increase for teachers is included in HB 215. This is the bill that also allows education vouchers for $8000. Funding for teachers and vouchers is separate. $196 million for teacher salary and benefits adjustments. $42.5 million for 5,000 vouchers.
- Chris also pointed out that the flexibility in 35% of state restricted funds will be ongoing. It was set to expire in 2024.
- Sensitive materials is a topic that will continue to be discussed over the interim. Many bills were brought up in the session, but only Senator Fillmore’s SB 55 passed.
- The charter school base funding had a flaw that eliminated the funding to LEAs with over 2000 students (5-6 schools). Chris explained that Royce was able to restore that funding for the larger LEAs and will work over the interim to make sure administrative costs are managed. Generally, the legislature wants to put funding into the WPU for greater flexibility for schools and eliminate specific line item funding.
- HB 308 eliminated school letter grades. State board spent time on their accountability and assessment system and that discussion should continue in the interim.
- Chris mentioned that while there is much to celebrate this year, we can see the historical changes in the WPU and acknowledge there may be leaner years ahead.
Meeting Sponsor – HUB
Ryan Bingham explained that HUB offers a health insurance plan through the association. His team is willing to help you evaluate your health insurance plan for competitiveness in rates and benefits for your employees. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Announcements and Upcoming Events
- School Spotlights-Mana Academy recently announced that all their seniors who applied to a university was accepted. Congratulations!
- Job Fair March 18th 9:00am – 11:30am
- Conference June 6-7, 2023
- Training Updates on UAPCS calendar
Monday, April 10th at 11am - Online