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Here’s A Summary of the 2013 Public Ed Bills

April 11, 2013

After budget work was completed this session, the Utah State Office of Education will have $3,830,500,000 to spend on Utah school, teachers, administrators and students. This constitutes a 4.6% increase in overall state funding to public education in Utah.

We appropriated $32,742,000 to Board of Education for education program priorities. A few highlights:

– The early intervention initiative that targets at-risk children in kindergarten received $12,200,000.

– The dual language immersion program was given a $1,040,000 budget.

– $1 million will go to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classes in 4th- 8th grade classes.

– $5,000,000 will go to classroom supplies for teachers.

– $4,229,000 was added to the budgets of current education programs like the Pro Start Student Culinary Arts, the Pops Fine Arts Outreach, and iSee Science Outreach Programs.

– $1,034,800 went to programs that will enhance the state’s online education options, student leadership, suicide prevention and the University of Utah Reading Clinic, a resource that parents can use for assessment and intervention for struggling readers.

– For every $1 in state and income taxes paid, $0.53 goes to education.
Enrollment Growth & the weighted pupil unit—the basic funding measure for Utah schools (WPU).

In addition, we funded a two percent increase (totaling $47,700,000) to the WPU. This money goes to the districts to fund administration, teacher benefits, and salaries.

Enrollment growth was fully funded as well. We added $70,796,300 to the budget to accommodate new students in the system.

Bullying Prevention & Reporting

Four bills were passed which dealt with increasing character development and decreasing bullying. Utah schools are now required to notify a parent if a student threatens to commit suicide or is involved in bullying, cyber-bullying, harassment, hazing, or retaliation.

A prevention coordinator from the State Office of Education will now oversee school youth suicide prevention programs and create a model youth suicide prevention program for schools to use.

Districts will offer an annual seminar to parents with information on substance abuse, bullying, mental health, and Internet safety. Additionally, a pilot program was started to help students develop initiative and self-motivation behaviors. (HB 134,HB 154, HB 298, SB 122)

Safety, Accountability & Transparency

Several new laws will make schools more safe, accountable and transparent. Parents will soon receive a report card that grades their children’s schools on how well their students demonstrate progress in language arts, mathematics, science, and writing.

Schools will now be required to report their transactions to the Utah Public Finance Website using a uniform method of identifying the accounts. Currently each district reports their expenditures – but they all do it differently. This makes it difficult to compare how schools spend their money. The new law will make it much easier for taxpayers to follow the money being allocated to, and spent by, their school.

Additionally, school districts and charter schools will now be required to give specifics on how they use their allocation of class size reduction money. They will also be required to conduct or update a seismic safety evaluation on older school district buildings. (SB 271, SB 128, HB 318, HB 278)

Pursuant to HB129, the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst has been tasked with developing a website that will allow users to enter their taxes paid and get a receipt of sorts which will detail how much they paid for government services, including public and higher education.

Leveraging Technology for Better Results

Technology use was funded in several ways, including allocating money for the purchase of iPads to use in the Smart School Technology Program.

We also funded the use of additional interactive reading software to be used in second and third grade. This type of software has been used very successfully in kindergarten and first grade, and we are excited about expanding this innovative approach to learning. (SB 284, SB 260)

Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM)

We allocated funds to create a STEM Action Center Board to track student achievement and progress in science, technology, engineering and math classes. Increasing the focus on STEM classes and training is becoming more critical to preparing our children for future careers. (HB139)

Charters, Focused

The State Charter School Board has been instructed to request applications for new schools with specific focuses. The schools they are looking for will have missions to do things such as:

– meet the needs of students who are at risk of academic failure;
– focus on career and technical education;
– teach in single gender classrooms;
– have an international or military focus.

Economic Literacy

The State Board of Education will take a look at how to improve the financial and economic literacy class taught in Utah High Schools. (HB 344, SB 43)

Field Trips

A fund has been created which allows school districts and charter schools to apply for money to cover the transportation expenses of taking students on field trips to the state capitol. (HB 363)

International Baccalaureate & New Century Scholarships

Students who take classes in the International Baccalaureate program will be eligible to use those credits in applying for the New Century scholarship or an Exemplary Academic Achievement award. (SB 100)

Assessing Competency & College Readiness

Tenth grade students will no longer take the basic skills competency test, but will now take the ACT, the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) or some other national assessment test for college readiness.

Also, the State Board has been tasked with looking into the feasibility of competency-based education programs. Such programs would allow students to receive course credit if they demonstrate competency in the course, rather than get credit for “seat time” alone. Each Utah student will have a Student Achievement Backpack which will make it easy for parents and schools to access an individual student’s progress. (SB 175, HB 393, SB 82)

Long-term Planning

An Education Task Force was created to establish long-term goals, priorities and vision for the state legislature. This task force will work throughout the year and report back to the Education Interim Committee in December. (SB 151)

66 by 2020

We passed resolution expressing strong support for the new goal for 66% of all Utah adults to hold a postsecondary degree or certificate bu 2020. In addition, 90% of all third grade students will be reading proficiently. (SCR 5)

Education is key to strong families and a strong economy, and is Utah’s highest policy priority.

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From → 2013 Interim

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