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Newspaper Ad Encourages Support for Governor’s Public Ed Budget

2/28/2011

Copy of the advertisement (PDF)

In an open letter to Utah legislators, 14 local non-profit organizations warned that “Decreasing budgets and increasing demands are on a collision course. This cannot continue without severe implications for the future of our students and our state’s economy.”

The letter appeared in major Utah newspapers Feb. 24 and 27.

“The letter was an attempt to get the attention of legislators and let them know there are many Utahns and public service organizations concerned about what’s happening with our public schools,” said UEA Executive Director Mark Mickelsen. “In his budget proposal, Governor Herbert demonstrated how the budget can address both the economic realities and the very real demands of our public school system. We hope legislators will see the wisdom in what he has proposed and fund our schools at last year’s levels, including additional money for new students.”

The organizations sponsoring the advertisement include:

  • Voices for Utah Children
  • The Utah Education Association
  • The Utah PTA
  • The United Way
  • Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum
  • Community Action Partnership of Utah
  • Salt Lake Community Action Partnership
  • Head Start
  • The Guadalupe School
  • The Utah Health Policy Project
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics Utah Chapter
  • The Utah Humanities Council
  • The Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities
  • Utahns for Public Schools

Complete text of the letter…

An Open Letter to Utah Legislators:

Utah’s public schools are at a critical breaking point.

Despite the nation’s lowest per-pupil funding and highest class sizes, our dedicated teachers, administrators, school employees, parents and students have done a remarkable job of delivering quality educational opportunities for Utah’s children.

If you haven’t been in a classroom lately, you may not realize how the depth and breadth of available programs have expanded over the past decade or so. Our elementary schools are creating individualized learning programs and using technology like SMART boards, projection systems and computer labs to augment student learning. High schools offer programs and opportunities we never dreamed of just a few short years ago.

You may also notice other changes in our classrooms. For example, nearly a quarter of our student-age population is now minority. In some schools that figure approaches 100 percent. The number of students from poor families is increasing as is the number of students qualifying for special education services. All these trends are expected to continue, and each adds to the demand for resources from our already underfunded public schools.

Over the past two years, more than 25,000 students were added to the rolls of Utah public schools. That’s like creating a new school district the size of Washington County or Salt Lake City. And yet, these students were not funded. Another 14,700 are expected next year.

Public education budget cuts of more than 11 percent have been proposed for this year.

Still, public schools are continually asked to deliver more. Our schools are being held accountable for results when they simply lack the capacity to deliver those results due to inadequate and inequitable funding.

Decreasing budgets and increasing demands are on a collision course. This cannot continue without severe implications for the future of our students and our state’s economy.

We certainly understand the financial pressures brought to bear by the recent economy and the legislature’s constitutional responsibility to balance the state budget. We also understand the legislature’s constitutional responsibility to provide for its schoolchildren. We believe there is a way to deliver both.

We applaud Gov. Herbert’s proposed budget that provides $63 million in new funding for public education and would fund new-student growth for the year. His proposal strikes a balance between the demands on public education, the need to close the state budget’s “structural imbalance” and the requirement to balance the budget.

We support the public education proposals in the Governor’s budget and urge legislators to do the same.

Respectfully Yours,

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