Governor signs bills to increase education funding, support for teachers
Governor Gary R. Herbert signed three key bills to increase education funding and support for teachers alongside middle school students, school administrators and legislators Wednesday morning.
“I am proud to sign these bills today to show our appreciation for the wonderful work our teachers do and to provide a significant investment in Utah schools, which is critical for the future success of our students and educators,” Gov. Herbert said.
In the school auditorium at Oquirrh Hills Middle School in Riverton, Gov. Herbert signed H.B. 2, Public Education Budget Amendments (McCay, Hillyard), H.B. 231, Educator Evaluation Amendments (Moss, Millner) and S.B. 161, Bullying and Hazing Amendments (Escamilla, Eliason).
With the signing of H.B. 2, Utah remains on track to meet a statewide goal of investing $1 billion into K-12 education over five years. The bill includes a four percent increase in the Weighted Pupil Unit, discretionary funds that allow districts to determine spending based on the needs of their schools. It also contains funding to support Utah teachers by requiring the state to cover the cost of teacher licenses—a fee that teachers are now paying themselves. Additionally, funding for teacher supplies has been moved from one-time to ongoing funds, meaning it can now be counted on as part of the budget each year.
H.B. 231 is another bill that supports teachers by returning much of the oversight on teacher evaluations back to the local schools and districts.
S.B. 161 requires students to sign annual agreements acknowledging the State Board of Education bullying policy in an effort to prevent bullying and hazing in Utah schools. The FY 2018 budget also includes funds to expand the SafeUT App program so that more students will have access to an important resource for individuals experiencing stress, anxiety and depression.
During his speech, the governor thanked Utah teachers for their hard work and sacrifices, and also highlighted that these new investments are only the beginning. An increased investment in education will be critical to help Utah meet its goal of becoming the top state for student achievement, the governor said.