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UEA Report on the 2017 Utah Legislature General Session

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WEEK SIX: 

2017 LEGISLATURE WEEK SIX SUMMARY: February 27-March 3

With just four days left in the 2017 General Legislative Session, the number of bills being tracked by the UEA that potentially impact educators increased to 117. Action was taken on four dozen of those during Week Six. The UEA sponsored a Read Across America activity on March 3 celebrating the 20th Anniversary of this NEA reading program. The Executive Appropriations Committee also approved a budget that increases the WPU by 4% over the current year, 1% more than originally anticipated.

Public Education Budget: Proposed budget numbers released during Week Six, which are still subject to final approval by the Executive Appropriations Committee and then a final vote by the entire legislature, included the following:

•           A 4% increase on the Weighted Pupil Unit ($120 million)

•           Fully funding of student growth ($64 million)

•           Ongoing funding for teacher supply money reimbursement ($5 million)

•           Payment for educator licensing fees ($2.6 million ongoing)

•           Funding for a USDB building in Utah County ($10.5 million)

The 4% WPU increase came about due to a great deal of hard work behind the scenes by legislators involved in the process, the UEA Legislative Team, local governance and staff, and educators making contact with their legislators.

Read Across America Celebration: The Cat in the Hat and Curious George kicked off Utah’s portion of the NEA’s Read Across America Event. The activity drew almost 400 kids and their teachers from Title 1 elementary schools, plus children and grandchildren of legislators and Capitol staff. The Capitol Rotunda was speckled in red and white hats as students visited various craft stations, reading areas, and enjoyed the mind-blowing talents of a magician before a walking tour of the historic building.

At times it seemed as if the adults in the capitol rotunda were as impressed as the kids. Several parents, teachers and even a few representatives, senators and lobbyists were seen enjoying their photo moments with the popular Dr. Seuss characters. A few UEA leaders may have gotten in on the photos as well. Read Across America, celebrating it’s 20th year, is a nationwide event started by the National Education Association (NEA) to encourage literacy among young students around the country.

Educator Day on the Hill: UEA Educator Day On the Hill with about 70 educators and education support professionals attending from Box Elder, Washington County, Beaver, Canyons, Sevier, Nebo, Park City, Alpine, Logan, Salt Lake, Granite, Tooele, Davis, Jordan, Millard, Cache and Weber School Districts, in addition to UEA Retired and students from Westminster College.

Bills on the move this week
(For the current status on all bills of interest see the UEA Legislative Tracking Sheet)

HB92: Physical Restraint in Schools would amend provisions related to the use of physical restraint in schools. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

HB136: Board of Education Revisions would allow the Utah State Board of Education to review any future federal program to determine if it meets states goals. If it does not meet state goals but denial of the program would cost federal dollars, USBE could make an appropriations request from the legislature. The UEA opposes this bill. It passed the Senate Education Committee 4-1.

HB168 (2nd sub.): Kindergarten Supplemental Enrichment Program would provide more extended-day kindergarten programs for high poverty schools. Money for the program would primarily come from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

HB212 (2nd sub.): Incentive for Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools provides bonuses for teachers who have a 70% median growth percentile or higher in high poverty schools. The district must provide half of the bonus funds. About 145 teachers would qualify. The bill passed the House on a vote of 51-23 and the Senate Education Committee unanimously. The UEA has concerns about defining a teacher’s effectiveness based solely on a standardized test score and the fact only a small percentage of teachers, those teaching grades 4-6 in elementary school or those teaching a tested subject in secondary schools, would even qualify.

HB223 (1st sub.): Elementary School Counselor Program creates a grant program to fund school counselors in elementary schools to provide emotional and social support to students and college and career readiness counseling. It passed the House 71-2 and the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

HB226 (1st sub.): Utah Charter School Profile Website would require certain information be placed on each charter school’s website. The bill failed in the House Education Committee on a vote of 2-5.

HB231: Educator Evaluation Amendments makes substantial changes to educator evaluation, removing many state requirements and giving much more flexibility to local districts. The bill eliminates expectations like a minimum of two evaluations a year for provisional teachers, the requirement that employees receive an orientation on the evaluation system and specific remediation procedures for teachers who are not performing effectively. The bill passed the full House and the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

HB239 (2nd sub.): Juvenile Justice Amendments addresses contracts between LEAs and law enforcement for school resource officer services among other provisions related to juvenile justice. It passed the House 68-7 and now goes to the Senate.

HB241 (1st sub.): School Accountability Amendments creates a new school accountability system and eliminates school grading by letter grades. The substitute bill combines language with SB220, with letter grades removed. Multiple education stakeholders spoke in favor of the bill. The Senate Education Committee voted to table the bill on a vote of 4-1.

HB255: Tax Increase Initiative Amendments was drafted in response to the “Count My Vote” initiative. The bill requires that the nominal tax rate increase as well as the effective rate be included in the in the materials for any proposed ballot initiative. The bill passed the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee 3-1 and now goes to the full Senate.

HB264 (2nd sub.): Utah Education Review and Strategic Planning requires the State Board of Education to prepare and submit a complete and updated 10-year plan to the Education Interim Committee by November 30, 2019. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

HB291: School and Institutional Trust Lands Amendments provides that the director of the School Children's Trust Section shall serve for a term of six years and may serve multiple terms. The bill passed the House on a vote of 48-21 and now goes to the Senate.

HB292: Charter School Admission Amendments allows a charter school to give an enrollment preference to the sibling of an individual who was previously enrolled in the charter school. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

HB302: Modifications to Tax would lower rates but increase the number of items subject to sales tax. The bill was held in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee for interim study.

HB309: Public Health in Schools amends the vaccination requirements for school attendance. It passed the House 60-9 and now goes to the Senate.

HB377 (1st sub.): Tax Revisions makes the single sales factor mandatory for apportioning business income tax revenue. The bill has a fiscal note of about $20 million out of the Education Fund. The bill passed the House Revenue and Taxation Committee 6-3 and the full House 55-14. It now goes to the Senate.

HB401: Electronic High School Amendments passed the House Education Committee on a vote of 11-1.

HB404 (1st sub.): Early Warning Pilot Program provides for a software program to identify students in need of early intervention. It directs the State Board of Education to contract with a provider for a one-year pilot software program and requires that the program be designed for use by teachers, school administrators and parents. The bill passed the House Education Committee on a vote of 10-3 and the full House 58-14. It now goes to the Senate.

HB409: Charter School Funding Amendments requires a charter school to include in a charter agreement the maximum number of students the charter school will serve. The bill passed the House Education Committee and the full House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

HB413 (1st sub.): Public School Membership in Associations defines guidelines for public school associations and prohibits public schools from belonging or paying dues to an association that is not in compliance with those guidelines. While not mentioned by name, the bill specifically targets the Utah High School Activities Association. The bill passed the House Education Committee on a vote of 11-2.

HB414: Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind Referral Amendments amends provisions related to educational services for an individual with a hearing loss. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House Education and the full House unanimously and the Senate Education Committee on a vote of 4-1.

HB418: Assistive Teaching Technology Amendments  passed the House Education Committee on a vote of 6-2.

HB426 (1st sub.): Stem Amendments creates a special revenue fund called the "STEM Action Center Foundation Fund" and provides for the STEM Action Center to create a foundation. The bill passed the House unanimously.

HCR9: Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Consideration of a Later School Day Start for High School encourages schools to adopt later start times for high school students. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

HJR8: Joint Resolution Supporting the Retention of Public Educators supports the retention of public educators by directing revenue generated after transfer of federal public lands to state ownership towards a fund to increase educator salaries. The UEA supports this resolution. It passed the Senate on a vote of 16-7 and now goes to the Governor.

SB59 (1st sub.): Students with Disabilities Evaluation Amendments requires the State Board of Education to make rules regarding communication with the parent or legal guardian of a student who may have a disability and annually report certain violations to the Education Interim Committee. It failed in the House Education Committee on a vote of 5-7.

SB78 (1st sub.): Teacher Pedagogical Assessment would require that a graduate of university education preparation program pass a performance-based pedagogical assessment before receiving a Level I teaching license. It would allow an alternative-route-to-licensure candidate to teach up to two years before passing the same pedagogical assessment and retain their Level I license. It passed the House Education Committee on a vote of 6-4 and now goes to the full House.

SB102: Utah Student Privacy Act requires an LEA to make a list of individuals authorized to access student records. In addition, LEA’s are to provide training to those individuals and certify that those individuals have received the training. The bill passed the House 41-27.

SB125: Authorization to Modify Charter School Charter Agreements allows charter schools to go over their cap if the neighborhood school is closed to open enrollment. It also allows students to bypass the lottery at these charters. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously.

SB127: State Board of Education Amendments modifies a provision relating to the supervision of the director of the Division of Facilities Construction and Management over projects of the State Board of Education and includes the State Board of Education as an educational procurement unit that is a procurement unit with independent procurement authority. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously.

SB149 (1st sub.): Financial Education and Savings Plan to Benefit At-risk Children creates a program that provides financial training to parents of economically disadvantaged children attending kindergarten to encourage the parents to start saving money for their child's eventual higher education expenses and a financial contribution to the 529 savings accounts of economically disadvantaged children attending kindergarten, if their parents successfully meet the requirements of the program. The bill passed the Senate 25-3 and now goes to the House.

SB150 (2nd sub.): Local Government Bond Amendments requires a governing body to state the cost of a bond at the beginning of a ballot proposition. It passed the House on a vote of 68-3 and the Senate concurred with a House amendment unanimously. It now goes to the Governor.

SB163 (4th sub.): Student Information Amendments makes changes to the student privacy bill passed last year. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously.

SB168 (2nd sub.): Career and College Readiness Mathematics Competency Revisions eliminates naming a specific test, Accuplacer, and lets the Board of Regents select at least two appropriate tests to determine math competency. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 26-2 and the House Education Committee unanimously.

SB173 (1st sub.): English Language Arts Amendments appropriates $200,000 from the Education Fund to create a pilot program to implement software licenses for English Language Arts instruction in grades 4-12. The bill passed the Senate 21-4 and now goes to the House.

SB180: Charter School Start-up Grants extends charter school start-up grants by removing the repeal date. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 20-8 and the House Education Committee on a vote of 8-1.

SB186: Education Reporting Amendments eliminates five statutorily required reports. The bill passed the full Senate and the House Education Committee unanimously.

SB190 (1st sub.): Education Computing Partnerships creates the Computing Partnerships Grants program, administered by the STEM Action Center. The bill passed the full Senate and the House Education Committee unanimously.

SB196: Health Education Amendments removes the prohibition of advocacy of homosexuality in health education and was amended to add a prohibition of premarital or extramarital sexual activity. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate on a vote of 24-1 and now goes to the House.

SB216: Reading Intervention Software License Program Accountability Amendments provides that a school district, the State Board of Education and a technology provider work with a public school if the usage rate of reading intervention software falls below a recommended rate. It passed the Senate 21-2 and now goes to the House.

SB220 (1st sub.): Student Assessment and School Accountability Amendments would modify the current school grading accountability system, incorporating several new criteria and changing calculation and reporting of school performance. It would also eliminate the use of SAGE tests in high school and instead require ACT and ACT Aspire assessments for high school students. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 21-5 and now goes to the House. (NOTE: See ALERT on this bill!)

SB234 (1st sub.): School Turnaround Amendments makes changes to the School Turnaround program. It allows for a three-year program with up to a two-year extension. The bill continues the current public-private partnership but also allows for contracted ‘specialists’ to help in specific areas. It passed the Senate on a vote of 20-4.

SB240: Local School Options allows an eligible education entity to replace certain statewide requirements related to employee evaluations and other human resource policies with local policies or programs and allows them to be exempt from requirements that apply to district schools but not charter schools. The bill was held in the Senate Education Committee.

SB255 (3rd sub.): Funding for Education System Amendments was amended in the Senate Education Committee to now include details contained in SB80: School Funding Amendments. This action provides a new source of funding for SB80’s equalization efforts. It increases the funds collected by the basic rate each year for five years by not allowing it to float down as property values increase. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously prior to the third substitution. It then passed unanimously from the Senate second reading calendar and was placed on the third reading calendar.

SB262: Upstart Amendments removes the “pilot” status of the UPSTART technology program and also allows for additional competition from other vendors to run two-year pilot programs to demonstrate effectiveness. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee and the full Senate unanimously.

SJR16: Joint Resolution Designating National Speech and Debate Education Day designates March 3, 2017, as "National Speech and Debate Education Day" in Utah. It passed the House unanimously.


February 27, 2017

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): SB255: Funding for Education Systems Amendments was presented by Sen. Howard Stephenson. The bill would freeze the amount of money that higher education could receive from the education fund for five years so that any growth in income tax revenues would be available for K-12 schools. Sen. Stephenson said the bill was a “shell piece of legislation” that would include the proposed cap on higher education funding but also amendments made on the floor of the Senate and House that could include other funding changes such as freezing the statewide basic level and reducing the value of the personal exemption on income tax. The goal is to piece together multiple funding changes to increase money for public education. Members of the committee expressed concern that higher education would not have sufficient funding solely from general fund sources. Sen. Lyle Hillyard suggested that this would be a “good item for interim study.” No action was taken. The bill was held in committee with the expectation that it would be revised to focus on freezing the basic levy rate.

SB262: Upstart Amendments was presented by Sen. Stuart Adams. The bill removes the “pilot” status of the Upstart technology program and also allows for additional competition from other vendors to run two-year pilot programs to demonstrate effectiveness of their programs. There were questions about why there was no fiscal note for the bill since more vendors will be able to compete in pilot programs. The bill passed unanimously.

HB136: Board of Education Revisions was presented by Rep. Mike Kennedy. The bill would allow the Utah State Board of Education to review any future federal program to determine if it meets states goals. If it does not meet state goals but denial of the program would cost federal dollars, USBE could make an appropriations request from the legislature. The USBE and PTA both spoke against the bill, stating that this is something the Board can already do and does not requires legislative authorization. The UEA also opposes this bill. It passed 4-1.

HB92: Physical Restraint in Schools was presented by Rep. Carol Moss. The bill would amend provisions related to the use of physical restraint in schools. Members of the public, Utah State Board of Education and Utah School Superintendents Association all spoke in support of the bill. Sen. Hillyard asked whether teachers also supported the bill and Lisa Nentl-Bloom, speaking on behalf of UEA, stated that UEA has no official position on the bill but recognizes it achieves a careful balance on a very difficult issue. The bill passed unanimously.

House Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB302: Modifications to Tax was presented by Rep. Joel Briscoe. This bill would lower rates but increase the number of items subject to sales tax. The bill was held in committee for interim study.

HB377: Tax Revisions was presented by Rep. Dan McCay. This bill would make a single sales factor mandatory for apportioning business income tax. The bill has a fiscal note of about $20 million out of the Education Fund. Jay Blain, representing the UEA, spoke about how we need to invest in education in order to be competitive as well as supporting businesses. We already have one of the best economies in the nation and it hasn’t been sufficient to provide enough funding to support public education, he said. We are in a crisis in public education in recruiting and retaining teachers and have other needs. We need to invest in our most important resource, an educated work force. Matthew Weinstein, representing Voices for Utah Children gave data showing that this tax change doesn’t increase industries moving to a state or staying in a state. The bill was substituted and passed 6-3.

House Education Committee: HB414: Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind Referral Amendments was presented by Rep. Derrin Owens. It passed the committee unanimously.

HB401: Electronic High School Amendments was presented by Rep. Ray Ward. It passed the committee on a vote of 11-1.

HB409: Charter School Funding Amendments was presented by Rep. Brad Last. It passed the committee unanimously.

HB418: Assistive Teaching Technology Amendments was presented by Rep. Brad Last. It passed the committee on a vote of 6-2.

HB404: Early Warning Pilot Program was presented by Rep. Val Peterson. It passed the committee on a vote of 10-3.

SB78 (1st sub.): Teacher Pedagogical Assessment was presented by Sen. Ann Milner. The bill would require that a graduate of university education preparation program pass a performance-based pedagogical assessment before receiving a Level I teaching license. It would allow an alternative-route-to-licensure candidate to teach up to two years before passing the same pedagogical assessment and retain their Level I license. It passed the committee on a vote of 6-4 and now goes to the full House.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB291: School and Institutional Trust Lands Amendments provides that the director of the School Children's Trust Section shall serve for a term of six years and may serve multiple terms. The bill passed the House on a vote of 48-21and now goes to the Senate.

HB212 (2nd sub.): Incentive for Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools appropriates about $400,000 to provide a $5,000 bonus for a teacher deemed highly effective based on test scores and teaching in a high poverty school. The UEA has concerns about defining a teacher’s effectiveness based solely on a standardized test score and the fact only a small percentage of teachers, those teaching grades 4-6 in elementary school or those teaching a tested subject in secondary schools, would even qualify. The bill passed the House on a vote of 51-23 and now goes to the Senate.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB168 (2nd sub.): Career and College Readiness Mathematics Competency Revisions requires the State Board of Regents to select at least two test for college-level math placement. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 26-2 and now goes to the House.

SB180: Charter School Start-up Grants extends charter school start-up grants by removing the repeal date. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 20-8 and now goes to the House.

SB149 (1st sub.): Financial Education and Savings Plan to Benefit At-risk Children creates a program that provides financial training to parents of economically disadvantaged children attending kindergarten to encourage the parents to start saving money for their child's eventual higher education expenses and a financial contribution to the 529 savings accounts of economically disadvantaged children attending kindergarten, if their parents successfully meet the requirements of the program. The bill passed the Senate 25-3 and now goes to the House.


February 28, 2017

Senate Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): SB255 (1st sub.): Funding for Education Systems Amendment originally called for a cap on the flow of money from K-12 to Higher Education and wasn’t received well. The substitute bill will freeze the basic property tax rate for five years for education. It has declined approximately half since the mid-90’s, according to the bill’s sponsor. The bill passed unanimously.

HB168 (2nd sub.): Kindergarten Supplemental Enrichment Program would provide more extended-day kindergarten programs for high poverty schools. Money for the program would primarily come from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). It is an optional program for parents, but the teacher and the parents both have to agree that the child needs to be there. The bill passed unanimously.

HCR9: Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Consideration of a Later School Day Start for High School encourages schools to adopt later start times for high school students. The bill passed the committee unanimously.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley and Jay Blain): HB239 (2nd sub.): Juvenile Justice Amendments addresses contracts between LEAs and law enforcement for school resource officer services among other provisions related to juvenile justice. It passed the House 68-7 and now goes to the Senate.

HB223 (1st sub.): Elementary School Counselor Pilot Program creates a grant program to fund school counselors in elementary schools to provide emotional and social support to students and college and career readiness counseling. It passed the House 71-2 and now goes to the Senate.

HB309: Public Health in Schools amends the vaccination requirements for school attendance. It passed the House 60-9 and now goes to the Senate.

HB377 (1st sub.): Tax Revisions bill makes the single sales factor mandatory for apportioning business income tax revenue. The bill has a fiscal note of about $20 million out of the Education Fund. Rep. Dan McCay said this issue could cost Utah jobs if not passed. He added that if the bill passes the fiscal note will be figured out and the bill will be brought back to the House for final action. The bill passed the House 55-14 and now goes to the Senate.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB292: Charter School Admission Amendments allows a charter school to give an enrollment preference to the sibling of an individual who was previously enrolled in the charter school. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

SB186: Education Reporting Amendments repeals certain reporting requirements placed on a local education agency, the state superintendent of public instruction, and the State Board of Education. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House.

SB190 (1st sub.): Education Computing Partnerships creates the Computing Partnerships Grants program, administered by the STEM Action Center. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House.


March 1, 2017

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB413 (1st sub.): Public School Membership in Associations was presented by Rep. Francis Gibson. The bill defines guidelines for public school associations and prohibits public schools from belonging or paying dues to an association that is not in compliance with those guidelines. It also establishes an appeals panel to hear an appeal of certain decisions by an association and specifies a 15-member board to oversee the association. While not mentioned by name, the bill specifically targets the Utah High School Activities Association.

Rep. Gibson said that this bill is not trying to govern but to set up some transparency with the association being subject to GRAMA, the Open and Public Meetings Act and having the budget submitted to the State Board. The bill passed the committee on a vote of 11-2.

SB59 (1st sub.): Students with Disabilities Evaluation Amendments was presented by Sen. Gene Davis. The bill requires the State Board of Education to make rules regarding communication with the parent or legal guardian of a student who may have a disability and annually report certain violations to the Education Interim Committee. Representatives from The Utah Eagle Forum, the Utah School Boards Association and Granite School District expressed concerns with the bill. It failed on a vote of 5-7.

Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB255: Tax Increase Initiative Amendments was drafted in response to the “Count My Vote” initiative. The bill requires that the nominal tax rate increase as well as the effective rate be included in the in the materials for any proposed ballot initiative. The bill passed the committee 3-1 and now goes to the full Senate.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB150 (2nd sub.): Local Government Bond Amendments requires a governing body to state the cost of a bond at the beginning of a ballot proposition. It passed the House on a vote of 68-3.

HB414: Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind Referral Amendments amends provisions related to educational services for an individual with a hearing loss. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House unanimously.

HB231: Educator Evaluation Amendments makes substantial changes to educator evaluation, removing many state requirements and giving much more flexibility to local districts. The bill eliminates expectations like a minimum of two evaluations a year for provisional teachers, the requirement that employees receive an orientation on the evaluation system and specific remediation procedures for teachers who are not performing effectively. The bill passed the House unanimously.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB196: Health Education Amendments removes the prohibition of advocacy of homosexuality in health education and was amended to add a prohibition of premarital or extramarital sexual activity. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate on a vote of 24-1 and now goes to the House.

SB220 (1st sub.): Student Assessment and School Accountability Amendments would modify the current school grading accountability system, incorporating several new criteria and changing calculation and reporting of school performance. It would also eliminate the use of SAGE tests in high school and instead require ACT and ACT Aspire assessments for high school students. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 21-5 and now goes to the House.

SB216: Reading Intervention Software License Program Accountability Amendments provides that a school district, the State Board of Education and a technology provider work with a public school if the usage rate of reading intervention software falls below a recommended rate. It passed the Senate 21-2 and now goes to the House.

SB262: Upstart Amendments was presented removes the “pilot” status of the UPSTART technology program and also allows for additional competition from other vendors to run two-year pilot programs to demonstrate effectiveness. The bill passed unanimously.

SB234 (1st sub.): School Turnaround Amendments makes changes to the School Turnaround program. It allows for a three-year program with up to a two-year extension. The bill continues the current public-private partnership but also allows for contracted ‘specialists’ to help in specific areas. It passed the Senate on a vote of 20-4.


March 2, 2017

Budget Update (reported by Jay Blain): Proposed budget numbers were released today. These are subject to final approval by the Executive Appropriations Committee and then a final vote by the entire legislature. Some highlights for public education are:

  • A 4% increase on the Weighted Pupil Unit ($120 million)
  • Fully funding of student growth ($64 million)
  • Ongoing funding for teacher supply money reimbursement ($5 million)
  • Payment for educator licensing fees ($2.6 million ongoing)
  • Funding for a USDB building in Utah County ($10.5 million)

The original proposal was a 3% increase on the WPU. The 4% WPU increase came about due to a great deal of hard work behind the scenes by legislators involved in the process, the UEA Legislative Team, local governance and staff, and educators making contact with their legislators. Kudos to everyone!

Senate Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB264 (2nd sub.): Utah Education Review and Strategic Planning requires the State Board of Education to prepare and submit a complete and updated 10-year plan to the Education Interim Committee by November 30, 2019. It also requires the Education Interim Committee to review the plan and consider legislation to implement it. State Supt. Syd Dickson expressed appreciation for an extension in the time because of having eight new State Board of Education members. The bill passed the committee unanimously.

HB212 (2nd sub.): Incentive for Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools was presented byRep. Mike Winder. This bill provides bonuses for teachers who have a 70% median growth percentile or higher in high poverty schools. Winder stated that this includes about 5% of teachers. The district must provide half of the bonus funds. The conservative estimate is that 145 teachers would qualify, he said.

Linda Hansen from the Utah State Board of Education said they supported the original bill but haven’t voted on the substitute. She indicated she believed this is a pilot program (it is not). Elizabeth Garbe representing the United Way noted 35 schools that fit the criteria. She said they support the bill as a way to get effective teachers for these students. Stan Rasmussen from the Sutherland Institute said they support the bill because it will increase morale and teachers should be rewarded for how well they teach and not just for how long they have been in the classroom.

Sara Jones, representing the UEA, raised several concerns. First, teacher effectiveness under the bill is based on a single test score. SAGE scores are not a valid and reliable measurement, she said. Second, only a limited number of teachers would be eligible. Because eligibility is based on test scores, only grade 4-6 teachers in elementary schools and only about 30% of teachers in secondary schools will be eligible. Third, this just moves teachers around and does nothing to grow the number of effective teachers and support available overall. Finally, Jones explained that teachers view teaching as a collaborative effort and would this program undermine collaboration.

The bill passed out of committee unanimously.

SB240: Local School Options allows an eligible education entity to replace certain statewide requirements related to employee evaluations and other human resource policies with local policies or programs and allows them to be exempt from requirements that apply to district schools but not charter schools. Sen. Lincoln Fillmore started by saying that this bill has no chance to pass and shouldn’t pass. He said the bill targets local control. The bill was held in the committee.

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB226 (1st sub.): Utah Charter School Profile Website would require certain information be placed on each charter school’s website. In presenting the bill, Rep. Elizabeth Weight said that people have approached her asking where they can find information about charter schools. Royce Van Tassel, representing the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools, spoke against the bill saying that many private organizations already have this information. Jay Blain, representing the UEA, spoke in favor of the bill saying that in order for school choice to work well, good information must be available in order to make good decisions. It is sometimes it is difficult to find information on the state transparency website, he said. The bill failed on a vote of 2-5.

SB186: Education Reporting Amendments was presented by Sen. Lincoln Fillmore. This bill eliminates five statutorily required reports. Rep. Fillmore said that if the State Board of Education wants this information they can write rules to collect it. The bill passed unanimously.

SB127: State Board of Education Amendments was presented by Sen. Ann Millner. This bill modifies a provision relating to the supervision of the director of the Division of Facilities Construction and Management over projects of the State Board of Education and includes the State Board of Education as an educational procurement unit that is a procurement unit with independent procurement authority. It also removes State Board of Education employees from certain overtime provisions and expands the category of State Board of Education employees who are exempt from certain classification provisions. The bill passed unanimously.

SB190 (1st sub.): Education Computing Partnerships was presented by Sen. Ralph Okerlund. He said this bill was brought to him by the STEM Action Center. He listed a litany of tech companies that have a need for trained employees. He says that it will also help attract teachers. It funds a $1.255 million grant program that has been funded in the final budget priorities. The bill passed unanimously.

SB125: Authorization to Modify Charter School Charter Agreements was presented by Sen. Howard Stephenson. This bill allows charters to go over their cap if the neighborhood school is closed to open enrollment. It also allows students to bypass the lottery at these charters. The bill passed unanimously.

SB180: Charter School Start-up Grants was also presented by Sen. Stephenson. This bill repeals the sunset date on these grants. It passed the committee on a vote of 8-1.

SB168 (2nd sub.): Career and College Readiness Mathematics Competency Revisions was also presented by Sen. Stephenson. This bill eliminates naming a specific test, Accuplacer, and lets the Board of Regents select at least two appropriate tests to determine math competency. The bill passed the committee unanimously.

SB163 (4th sub.): Student Information Amendments was presented by Sen. Jake Anderegg. This bill makes changes to the student privacy bill passed last year that Sen. Anderegg said ‘went too far.’ A fourth substitute bill creates the Utah Data Research Center Act. It passed unanimously.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB409: Charter School Funding Amendments requires a charter school to include in a charter agreement the maximum number of students the charter school will serve. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

SB102: Utah Student Privacy Act requires an LEA to make a list of individuals authorized to access student records. In addition, LEA’s are to provide training to those individuals and certify that those individuals have received the training. The bill passed the House 41-27.

SJR16: Joint Resolution Designating National Speech and Debate Education Day designates March 3, 2017, as "National Speech and Debate Education Day" in Utah. It passed the House unanimously.

HB404 (1st sub.): Early Warning Pilot Program provides for a software program to identify students in need of early intervention. It directs the State Board of Education to contract with a provider for a one-year pilot software program and requires that the program be designed for use by teachers, school administrators and parents. The bill passed the House 58-14 and now goes to the Senate.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB150 (2nd sub.): Local Government Bond Amendments requires a governing body to state the cost of a bond at the beginning of a ballot proposition. The Senate concurred with a House amendment unanimously. It now goes to the Governor.

HJR8: Joint Resolution Supporting the Retention of Public Educators supports the retention of public educators by directing revenue generated after transfer of federal public lands to state ownership towards a fund to increase educator salaries. The UEA supports this resolution. It passed the Senate on a vote of 16-7 and now goes to the Governor.

SB173 (1st sub.): English Language Arts Amendments appropriates $200,000 from the Education Fund to create a pilot program to implement software licenses for English Language Arts instruction in grades 4-12. The bill passed the Senate 21-4 and now goes to the House.


March 3, 2017

Educator Day on the Hill and Read Across America Celebration (reported by Roger Donohoe): Our last Educator Day on the Hill kicked off as about 70 educators met in the Copper Room of the Senate Building for an orientation meeting. Educators and education support professionals participated from Box Elder, Washington County, Beaver, Canyons, Sevier, Nebo, Park City, Alpine, Logan, Salt Lake, Granite, Tooele, Davis, Jordan, Millard, Cache and Weber School Districts, in addition to UEA Retired and students from Westminster College.

After discussing bills, issues and committee meetings that were on the agenda for the day, the group migrated over to the capitol where the Cat in the Hat and Curious George kicked off Utah’s portion of NEA’s Read Across America Event. The activity drew almost 400 kids and their teachers from school districts around the Salt Lake Valley, plus children and grandchildren of legislators and Capitol staff. The Capitol Rotunda was speckled in red and white hats as students visited various craft stations, reading areas, and enjoyed the mind-blowing talents of a magician before a walking tour of the historic building.

At times it seemed as if the adults in the capitol rotunda were as impressed as the kids. Several parents, teachers and even a few representatives, senators and lobbyists were seen enjoying their photo moments with the popular Dr. Seuss characters. A few UEA leaders may have gotten in on the photos as well.

Following the Read Across America event, those attending EDOH returned to the Copper room for lunch and to debrief. Were visited by Rep. Val Potter who spoke briefly about the legislative process and how teachers can best communicate with their representatives. Rep. Potter mentioned that personal emails, rather than those that are centrally generated and sent out in mass, are the best way to make a point and get attention. He further stated that the best time to contact legislators is prior to the session’s start. This emphasizes the ongoing relationships we encourage members to foster with our public servants.

Read Across America is a nationwide event started by the National Education Association (NEA) to encourage literacy among young students around the country. We in Utah thank the NEA for a generous grant and sponsorship of our local event. Their generous grant provided funding for the entire event including hats, transportation and lunches for the kids.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Mike Kelley and Jay Blain): HB223 (1st sub.): Elementary School Counselor Program was presented by Rep. Steve Eliason. The bill creates a grant program to fund school counselors in elementary schools to provide emotional and social support to students and college and career readiness counseling. It passed the committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.

HB231: Educator Evaluation Amendments was presented by Rep. Jefferson Moss. The bill makes substantial changes to educator evaluation, removing many state requirements and giving much more flexibility to local districts. The bill eliminates expectations like a minimum of two evaluations a year for provisional teachers, the requirement that employees receive an orientation on the evaluation system, and specific remediation procedures for teachers who are not performing effectively. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

HB414: Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind Referral Amendments was presented by Rep. Darrin Owens. The bill amends provisions related to educational services for an individual with a hearing loss. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the committee on a vote of 4-1. The UEA supports this bill.

HB241 (1st sub.): School Accountability Amendments was presented by Rep. Marie Poulson. She presented a substitute bill, explaining that this bill combined her bill and Sen. Ann Millner’s SB220, with letter grades removed.

Multiple education stakeholders spoke in favor of the bill. Timpanogas High School Principal Joe Jensen said school grading misrepresents schools on both end of the spectrum. Utah PTA representative LeAnn Wood said Utah parents have lost trust in the school grading system over the years. Murray Supt. Steve Hirase said school grades have created unintentional stereotypes on schools. Alpine School District Assessment Director David Smith said that data tells the story not the letter grade. Glendale Middle School teacher Chelsea Acosta described her classrooms and the struggles with reading and the SAGE test. Granite School District teacher Caren Burns explained how emotional and behavioral growth in her students is not reflected in the SAGE test. Terry Shoemaker, representing the Utah School Superintendents Association and the Utah School Boards Association said the constant changing of accountability systems has been frustrating and having one accountability system with consistency would make sense. Sara Jones, representing the UEA said that the time has come for a more robust system that does not rely on a single letter grade. She pointed out that the ESSA allows us to move past the NCLB testing-based era.

Nobody spoke against the bill. Senate President Wayne Niederhauser moved to table the bill and encouraged the education stakeholders to get behind Sen. Millner’s original bill. Sen. Howard Stephenson spoke in favor of the motion to table. The committee voted to table the bill on a vote of 4-1.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB426 (1st sub.): Stem Amendments creates a special revenue fund called the "STEM Action Center Foundation Fund" and provides for the STEM Action Center to create a foundation. The bill passed the House unanimously.

Senate Floor (reported by Jay Blain): SB255 (3rd sub.): Funding for Education System Amendments was presented by Sen. Howard Stephenson. The bill was replaced with a third substitute, which also substituted the sponsor to Sen. Lincoln Fillmore. Sen. Fillmore explained that this substitute now includes details contained in his SB80: School Funding Amendments. This action provides a new source of funding for SB80’s equalization efforts, he said. The bill now increases the funds collected by the basic rate each year for five years by not allowing it to float down as property values increase. The bill passed unanimously from the Senate second reading calendar and was placed on the third reading calendar.