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UEA Report on the 2017 Utah Legislature General Session

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WEEK TWO: 

Daily Reports

2017 LEGISLATURE WEEK TWO SUMMARY: January 30-February 3

Despite a record number of bills being filed this year, the number of education bills being tracked by the UEA is down slightly from recent years, although new bills are added daily. At the end of Week Two, UEA was tracking about 60 bills compared to 80 in 2016 and 70 in 2015.

The budget remains the biggest issue of discussion, but as yet, no action has been taken. Much of the work of the work of the UEA Legislative Team so far has been behind the scenes, working to stop or “fix” troublesome legislation and promote good policies.

Public Education Budget: The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee met three times during Week Two. The subcommittee continued to hear reports from Legislative Fiscal Analysts, including:

·         A presentation on Child Nutrition,

·         A report on the Initiative Programs in the Minimum School Programs,

·         Information about Education Contracts (students in state custody),

·         State Administrative Office budget details for staff at the Utah State Board of Education,

·         An explanation of the Minimum School Program and the Voted and Board Local Levy Programs, and

·         A report on the School and Institutional Trust Fund Office.

Other reports heard by the subcommittee included:

·         The State Board of Education presented its Minimum School Program requests, calling for $68 million for growth and a 2.5% WPU increase;

·         State Board personnel responded to items on the Initiative Programs;

·         The Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind (USDB) gave their budget presentation and budget request;

·         A report was presented on the Professional Art Organizations outreach (POPS);

·         Superintendents from several school rural school districts presented information about funding Regional Service Centers;

·         The Governor’s Education Advisor Tami Pyfer addressed the Governor’s budget priorities; and

·         The School and Institution Trust Lands Office provided a report.

Educator Day on the Hill: Things kicked off Thursday evening when eight educators from Iron and Uintah School Districts participated in the first-ever evening legislative preparation event. Early Friday morning about 50 teachers and education professionals from all over Utah met with their legislators and voiced concerns on education issues. Participants came from Nebo, Weber, Washington, Emery, Ogden, Iron, Cache, Granite, Jordan, Uintah School Districts, as well as UEA-Retired. On Tuesday, Jan. 31, more than a dozen educators participated in Retired Educator Day on the Hill, sponsored by the UEA-Retired organization.

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

HB23: Income Tax Credit Modifications reduces the solar income tax credit by $400 per year until it is gone. The UEA is tracking this bill because of the potential impact on the education budget. It passed the House Revenue and Taxation Committee with 2 no votes.

HB35: Minimum School Program Amendments amends provisions related to a local school board paying for a student to attend a school district outside of the state, amends provisions related to necessarily existent small schools. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously.

HB62: Educator Rights Amendments requires a local school board or charter school governing board to update a policy related to bullying and implement a grievance process for a school employee who experiences abusive conduct. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously.

HB92: Physical Restraint in Schools amends provisions related to the infliction of corporal punishment on a student amends provisions related to the use of physical restraint in schools and amends provisions related to a student who willfully defaces or otherwise injures school property. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously.

HB108: Teacher Salary Supplement Amendments allows those with Level 4 endorsements in science, in addition to those with science degrees, to be eligible for a teacher salary supplement. It also adds biology and earth sciences to the supplement. The bill passed the House Education Committee on a vote of 8-3.

HB119 (1 sub.): School Board Midterm Replacement Process creates a process for a local school board to make an appointment to fill a vacancy on the school board after a local school board member resigns. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously.

HB125: Student Residency Amendments enacts provisions governing the school district of residency for a child who is receiving services from a health care facility or human services program. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously.

HB126: Student Plan for College and Career Readiness Revisions changes references for Student Education/Occupation Plan (SEOP) to “plan for college and career readiness” and Student Education Plan (SEP) to “individual learning plan,” to reflect current language. It passed the House Education Committee on a vote of 9-1.

HB136: Board of Education Revisions would require that before prioritizing implementation of certain federal programs, the State Board of Education determine the fiscal impact of the failure to implement those programs. The bill passed the House 59-14 and now goes to the Senate. The UEA opposes this bill.

HB212: Incentive for Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools would award a salary bonus up to $10,000 per year to teachers in high poverty schools who are defined as “effective” based on student growth as measured by SAGE test scores. The House Education Committee voted to adjourn without taking public comment or voting on the bill.

HJR4: Joint Resolution on Maintenance-of-effort Requirements requests that Utah's congressional delegation submit federal legislation requiring that the state amount obligated as a maintenance-of-effort calculation not exceed the amount of federal funding provided. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

SB34: Competency-based Education Funding authorizes the State Board of Education to reimburse a local education agency that offers a competency-based education for a student who graduates early from the local education agency. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously.

SB49: Purpose of Minimum School Program amends the purpose of the Minimum School Program Act to refer to "each child" rather than all children and include other public education schools and programs. It passed the Senate on a vote of 25-2 and now goes to the House for consideration.

SB60: School District Amendments passed the Senate on a vote of 23-5 and now goes to the House for consideration. This bill requires a private school to provide local school districts with personally identifiable information of students with disabilities and to provide parents of students with disabilities information regarding individual rights and school resources.

SB125: Authorization to Modify Charter School Charter Agreements would allow a charter school governing board to modify its enrollment procedures, without requiring the approval of the charter school authorizer, if there are students who reside within a two-mile radius of the charter school and whose school of residence is at capacity. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

SB127: State Board of Education Amendments includes the State Board of Education as an educational procurement unit with independent procurement authority, removes State Board of Education employees from certain overtime provisions and exempts certain State Board of Education employees from career service provisions. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

SB148: School Leadership Task Force would create a legislative taskforce to study issues related to recruitment, retention, preparation and mentoring of effective school leaders. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.


January 30, 2017

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): Ben Leishman, Legislative Fiscal Analyst, continued with explanations of the Minimum School Program and the Voted and Board Local Levy Programs. The State Board of Education then presented itsMinimum School Program requests, calling for $68 million for growth and a 2.5% WPU increase. Sen. Lyle Hillyard asked how much salary increase school districts could provide based on a 2.5% WPU increase. State Board personnel could not answer the question.

The Governor’s Education Advisor Tami Pyfer addressed the Governor’s budget priorities. She stressed the need for a healthy WPU increase so local school districts can make local decisions about which programs will work best for them.

Jill Curry, legislative fiscal analyst, gave a report on the School and Institutional Trust Fund Office and Peter Madsen, director of the School and Institution Trust Lands Office, also provided a report.

The last item was a discussion on performance measures for line items. If agreed to, these will be included as intent language.

House Education Committee (reported by Mike Kelley): The House Education Committee heard five bills, all of which passed unanimously:

HB35: Minimum School Program Amendments amends provisions related to a local school board paying for a student to attend a school district outside of the state, amends provisions related to necessarily existent small schools, amends funding requirements for comprehensive guidance programs; and repeals the Teacher Salary Supplement Restricted Account.

HB62: Educator Rights Amendments requires a local school board or charter school governing board to update a policy related to bullying and implement a grievance process for a school employee who experiences abusive conduct.


January 31, 2017

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): SB125: Authorization to Modify Charter School Charter Agreements was presented by Sen. Howard Stephenson. The bill would allow a charter school governing board to modify its enrollment procedures, without requiring the approval of the charter school authorizer, if there are students who reside within a two-mile radius of the charter school and whose school of residence is at capacity. The bill passed unanimously.

House Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): Rep. Jeremy Petersonpresented HB23: Income Tax Credit Modifications, which repeals the solar income tax credit. The credit remains the same this year and is reduced by $400 per year until it is gone. The UEA is tracking this bill because of the potential impact on education in the overall budget. The bill passed out of committee with 2 no votes.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB60: School District Amendments passed the Senate on a vote of 23-5. This bill requires a private school to provide local school districts with personally identifiable information of students with disabilities and to provide parents of students with disabilities information regarding individual rights and school resources.

Retired Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Jenny Okerlund): More than a dozen educators participated in Retired Educator Day on the Hill, sponsored by the UEA-Retired organization. Participants learned about current education issues, met with their legislators and attended committee and legislative meetings.

HB92: Physical Restraint in Schools amends provisions related to the infliction of corporal punishment on a student amends provisions related to the use of physical restraint in schools and amends provisions related to a student who willfully defaces or otherwise injures school property.

HB125: Student Residency Amendments enacts provisions governing the school district of residency for a child who is receiving services from a health care facility or human services program.

SB34: Competency-based Education Funding authorizes the State Board of Education to reimburse a local education agency that offers a competency-based education for a student who graduates early from the local education agency.

Senate (reported by Mike Kelley): SB49: Purpose of Minimum School Program amends the purpose of the Minimum School Program Act to refer to "each child" rather than all children and include other public education schools and programs. It passed the Senate on a vote of 25-2.

SB60: School District Amendments passed the Senate on a vote of 27-2.



February 1, 2017

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): HB126: Student Plan for College and Career Readiness Revisions was presented by Rep. Mike Winder. This bill simply changes outdated references for Student Education/Occupation Plan (SEOP) to “plan for college and career readiness” and Student Education Plan (SEP) to “individual learning plan,” to reflect current language. It passed the committee on a vote of 9-1.

HB119 (1 sub.): School Board Midterm Replacement Process was presented by Rep. Susan Pulsifer. This bill creates a process for a local school board to make an appointment to fill a vacancy on the school board after a local school board member resigns. The bill passed unanimously.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): Legislative Fiscal Analyst Jill Curry provided information on the office of the State Administrative Office. This budget line item includes the most of the staff at the Utah State Board of Education. The majority of the funding comes from federal funds ($340 million out of $386 million dollars), and the bulk of that, $359 million, is passed through to school districts and charter schools. She also talked about line item reorganization and the Indirect Cost Pool. Superintendents Scott Crane (Grand), Kent Larsen (South Sanpete), Jerry Holmes (North Summit) and Rick Robins (Juab), along with Northern Utah Education Services Director Duke Mossman the presented information about funding Regional Service Centers


February 2, 2017

Senate Education Committee (reported by Mike Kelley): SB127: State Board of Education Amendments was presented by Sen. Ann Millner. The bill includes the State Board of Education as an educational procurement unit with independent procurement authority, removes State Board of Education employees from certain overtime provisions and exempts certain State Board of Education employees from career service provisions. It passed the committee unanimously.

House Education Committee (reported by Mike Kelley): HB108: Teacher Salary Supplement Amendments allows those with level 4 endorsements in science, in addition to those with science degrees, to be eligible for a teacher salary supplement. An amendment added biology and earth sciences to the supplement. Rep. Kay Christofferson presented the bill, which passed on a vote of 8-3.

HB212: Incentive for Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools was presented by Rep. Mike Winder. The bill would award a salary bonus up to $10,000 per year to teachers in high poverty schools who are defined as “effective” based on student growth as measured by SAGE test scores. Rep. Marie Poulson said she is concerned that school grading has shamed schools and is driving good teachers out of our high poverty schools. She questioned why SAGE scores are used as the measurement to determine teachers who qualify.

Rep. Kim Coleman questioned whether or not a school district could simply assign higher-performing teachers to high poverty schools or to implement their own incentives. Allowed to address Rep. Coleman’s comments, Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said the state is “in crisis” trying to properly staff its classrooms, particularly in high poverty schools. The WPU increases are insufficient to entice teachers to teach where the schools are in most need, he said.

The committee voted to adjourn without taking public comment or voting on the bill.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB136: Board of Education Revisions would require that before prioritizing implementation of certain federal programs, the State Board of Education determine the fiscal impact of the failure to implement those programs. If the Board determines there is a financial loss for not implementing the program, the State Board could request that legislature appropriate from the Education Fund revenue surplus, money to mitigate the financial loss. The bill passed the House 59-14 and now goes to the Senate. The UEA opposes this bill.

HJR4: Joint Resolution on Maintenance-of-effort Requirements requests that Utah's congressional delegation submit federal legislation requiring that the state amount obligated as a maintenance-of-effort calculation not exceed the amount of federal funding provided. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House unanimously.


February 3, 2017

Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Roger Donohoe): Things kicked off Thursday evening when eight educators from Iron and Uintah School Districts participated in the first-ever evening legislative preparation event. Early Friday morning almost 50 teachers and education professionals from all over Utah met for Educator Day on the Hill at the state capitol to meet with their legislators and voice concerns on education issues. Participants came from Nebo, Weber, Washington, Emery, Ogden, Iron, Cache, Granite, Jordan, Uintah School Districts, as well as UEA-Retired.

The morning began early with instructions on how to speak to our legislators. UEA President Heidi Matthews, and legislative team member Sara Jones instructed the group, many of whom were first time attendees, on the ins and outs of how legislation works. At 8 a.m. most of the group attended the Public Education Appropriations Committee meeting, followed by individual interactions with their legislators. The morning was highlighted with a meeting with representatives from US Senator Mike Lee’s office. About 20 educators voiced their united concerns over the appointment of Betsy Devos as U.S. Secretary of Education.

During a lunchtime debriefing session in the Copper Room at the State Senate Building many of the attendees reported on their interactions with legislators and their experiences. We were visited by Representatives Marie PoulsonSusan Pulsipher and Keven Stratton. Each shared details of education-related bills they are sponsoring.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): Legislative Fiscal Analyst Jill Curry gave a presentation on Child Nutrition. The vast majority of their budget comes from federal funds, she said. She then reported on Initiative Programs in the Minimum School Programs.

There was a short discussion about the elimination of the Electronic High School. Tami Pyfer, governor’s education advisor, noted that it is in the governor’s budget. Sen. Howard Stephenson said we should be moving toward competency based education rather than have students be teacher pleasers. Rep. Jefferson Moss added some context from the Board. He said that they wanted to move to compliance rather than being a service provider and that is why they voted to discontinue the EHS.

The committee heard several other reports:

·         State Board personnel responded to items on the Initiative Programs.

·         The Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind (USDB) gave their budget presentation andbudget request.

·         Curry presented on Education Contracts (students in state custody).

·         A report was presented on the Professional Art Organizations outreach (POPS).

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): SB148: School Leadership Task Forcewas presented by Sen. Ann Millner. The bill would create a legislative taskforce to study issues related to recruitment, retention, preparation, and mentoring of effective school leaders. Sara Jones, speaking on behalf of UEA, stated that while UEA supports the bill, teachers must be included on the taskforce because they will bring a critical perspective about the skills and qualities of effective school leaders in leading on instruction and learning. The bill passed unanimously.

SB144: Carson Smith Scholarship Amendments was presented by Sen. Lincoln Fillmore. The bill would add 504 accommodations to the Carson Smith scholarship program. There was extensive discussion about whether it was appropriate to expand the Carson Smith program beyond children with the most severe learning needs to the more broadly defined 504 accommodations. Several members of the public spoke against the bill and it was held in committee.