Utah education news

In Salt Lake and Utah counties, varying receptions for Our Schools Now initiative’s $700M tax increase

Orem • When school starts for her three children each fall, Marci LeMonnier said Tuesday, she is asked by administrators to donate supplies like copy paper to compensate for strained budgets. It’s a shame, the Provo resident said, that Utah’s last-in-the-nation school spending doesn’t allow for even basic office supplies. “We claim to love and cherish our children,” she said, “but we are not willing to fund their education.” LeMonnier was among about 50 Utahns who met at Orem Elementary School t... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Union sues to block online access to Utah teacher discipline cases

Utah’s largest teachers union is suing the state school board over a new website that allows the public to search a database of disciplinary actions taken against educators. The lawsuit was filed Friday in 3rd District Court by the Utah Education Association, but has not yet been formally served to the Utah Board of Education. Kass Harstad, an attorney representing the union, said the key issue is the retroactive nature of the website, which launched in February after a November vote of the boa... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Our Schools Now to hold public meetings across Utah Tuesday on $700M tax hike initiative

Utahns unsure whether to add their signature to — and potentially vote for — a $700 million tax hike to fund education will have a chance to ask questions and submit comments at a series of public meetings next week. Our Schools Now, which is prepping a 2018 ballot initiative that would raise Utah’s sales and income taxes by one-half of 1 percent, announced Wednesday a list of regional meetings scheduled for July 11, ahead of a signature drive in August. The Tuesday meetings will be held simulta...

West Valley City charter school for teen moms will replace administrators in bid to fight forced closure

At age 20, Esmeralda Huerta is four academic credits away from earning her high school diploma. After dropping out of Hillcrest High School and being homeless for roughly a year, the Midvale resident enrolled at Kairos Academy and is working toward a career in nursing. “I’m definitely going to college,” Huerta said. “I’ve never seen my grades be as good as they are now.” But now Huerta’s future at Kairos Academy is unclear, as students, parents and school community members push back against ...

Utah flight programs increase fleets, partner with airlines to meet ‘insatiable’ demand for pilots

Bracing for a potential surge of aviation students, Southern Utah University this year spent about $3.8 million on 10 new Cirrus airplanes. Utah State University officials, feeling the strain of burgeoning flight enrollment a year earlier, paid about $806,000 for four gently used planes. The investments are examples of how Utah universities are responding to the growing demand for pilot training — a positive trend in an industry that anticipates needing 617,000 commercial airline pilots by 2035...

What happens to Utah schools when the district next door can pay its teachers more?

Logan City School Superintendent Frank Schofield is sweating, and not because of the summer heat. His district’s board recently approved a $2,000 increase in salary for first-year teachers — boosting it to $37,643 — and a corresponding 4.2 percent raise for veteran educators. But Logan is surrounded on all sides by the Cache County School District, which adopted a salary schedule that pays a beginning teacher more than $40,000. “We’re perspiring,” Schofield said. “We’re not drenched, but we’ve g...

Dixie State becomes fourth Utah school under federal investigation for sexual misconduct allegations

The federal government is investigating Dixie State University for allegedly mishandling graduate Victoria Willard’s sexual harassment complaint — making it the fourth Utah school to find itself under scrutiny for potential Title IX violations. Willard, who graduated last year with an art degree, says she faced gender-based discrimination in the form of lewd comments and unwanted sexual touching from faculty for about a year beginning in 2014. But when she made a report in January 2016 to the s... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

BYU announces all campuses will now give Honor Code amnesty and ‘leniency’ to students who report sexual assaults

Brigham Young University announced Friday it has formally adopted an amnesty policy for victims or witnesses of sexual assault, a move it had pledged to make last year after the school came under fire for practices that some said discouraged students from reporting abuse. Going forward, students who are victims or witnesses will not be referred to the private school’s Honor Code Office, and will “not be disciplined by the university for any related honor code violation occurring at or near the t...

Struggling West Valley City charter school for teen moms shut down by Utah board

A charter school geared toward young mothers was forced to shut down Tuesday, pending appeal, after years of stagnant enrollment, financial pressures and low academic performance. Members of the State Charter School Board voted unanimously to terminate the charter of Kairos Academy in West Valley City, which opened in 2014 and has held a probationary status since March 2015. Board member Michelle Smith said Kairos has shown a “dramatic inability” to meet the terms of its contract with the stat...

Audit dings Utah Charter School Board for improper use of state startup funds

A state start-up grant was improperly awarded to Athlos Academy before the Herriman charter school was formally approved for operation, according to a report released Tuesday by the Utah State Auditor. The State Charter School Board approved a $124,100 grant for Athlos Academy in July of 2015, the report states, three months after the Utah Board of Education voted to deny Athlos’ application to open a school. Athlos Academy’s application was later approved by the state school board in September...

Should Utah charter schools be allowed to seize land?

When construction began on a new American Preparatory Academy in January, the charter school lacked required permits from the Utah Board of Education, according to newly obtained school board emails. The project timeline and American Prep’s ongoing and unprecedented quest to seize private land through eminent domain drew sharp critiques from some school board members, expressed in email chains during March and April with subject lines like “APA train wreck in Draper.” Beyond the plight of a sin...

Who are the 24 people looking for the next U. president? Here’s the list

Candidates to replace David Pershing as president of the University of Utah will be screened by a 24-member search committee, Utah’s Board of Regents announced Thursday. The panel includes four members of the Board of Regents, four members of the U. Board of Trustees, 12 U. employees, and four community and alumni representatives. “The selection of this committee has been thoughtful and deliberate, with each member having a significant connection to the institution and a strong interest in th... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

University of Utah will require all students to be trained in sex-assault awareness

Mandatory assault prevention training, increased lighting on campus, additional support faculty and a comprehensive website are all part of a roughly $390,000 new plan to boost safety at the University of Utah. The strategy, based on the recommendations of a campus safety task force, was presented to members of the U. Board of Trustees Wednesday and approved by U. President David Pershing. It calls for $388,000 to be spent on safety enhancements, including an online sexual assault awareness co...

Utah Board of Education orders review of student fees

State school board members have voted to launch an audit of the fees Utah public schools collect from students. During their June 2 meeting, board members discussed reports made by staff and through a hotline regarding costly fees for activities and course materials, inconsistent application of fee waivers for low-income families, and allegations of students being singled out or otherwise humiliated for failing to pay fees or getting waivers. The board voted unanimously in favor of an audit, w... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Refugees in Utah celebrate graduation years after escaping violence at home

For the first 16 years of Eric Mugisha’s life, he lived in a refugee camp in Rwanda. Mugisha was born there, after his parents and grandparents fled their home country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in wake of mass genocide and political unrest. Now, he’s graduating from high school in Utah and has dreams of furthering his education and getting a good job. As he joked and played with friends at Salt Lake City’s Jordan Park on Friday night, he looked like a typical American teenager, don... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Utah charter school accused of dysfunction, employee misconduct is off probation

Vineyard’s Franklin Discovery Academy will continue operating after the charter school was lifted from probation and placed on warning status Thursday. The move by the State Charter School board comes four months after allegations surfaced that a student had been targeted for a sexual relationship by a former employee and the firing of an administrator for allegedly failing to act on those claims. Utah Board of Education staff also visited the school and reported a dysfunctional academic environ...

Finding new University of Utah president could take up to a year, state’s top higher-education official says

Higher Education Commissioner Dave Buhler said he doesn’t believe the recent upheaval at the University of Utah will deter people from applying to be the school’s new president. The U. “is a great institution that has many positive things,” Buhler said Wednesday at a meeting with the Salt Lake Tribune’s editorial board. “I’m sure there will be questions raised … [but] I’m not worried at all that it’ll be hard to attract good candidates.” Last month, the Board of Regents began what Buhler said wi... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Our Schools Now launches $700 million Utah tax initiative

The Our Schools Now campaign to boost education funding through tax increases got formally underway on Tuesday ­— with several notable departures from the group’s original plans. First, backers said the 2018 ballot initiative would seek to raise both sales and income taxes by 0.5 percent, a shift from the income-tax focus telegraphed by Utah business leaders in November. Second, tax adjustments under the measure would be phased in over three years, Education First chairman Bob Marquardt said, ...