Utah education news

Senate panel OKs property tax freeze to fund schools

Members of the Senate Education Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would boost school funding through a statewide property tax rate freeze. Current law requires tax rates to remain revenue-neutral by adjusting down as property values increase. But Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, an architect of and advocate for Utah’s “Truth in Taxation” laws, said taxing entities are expected to raise rates and capture inflation every five to eight years. Except for a $75 million increase in 2015, he sa...

Tweaks to school grading and turnaround programs get early OK of Utah Senate

Senators gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a pair of bills that adjust Utah’s school grading and turnaround programs. The grading bill, SB220, would end the practice of grading schools on a curve, put more emphasis on student growth and expand performance metrics beyond standardized testing. Bill sponsor Sen. Ann Millner, R-Ogden, said the bill allows for expectations to be set for each letter grade level, allowing any school to receive an A or B independent of the performance of their siste... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Utah lawmaker abandons pledge to run bill only with state school board's support

A Utah lawmaker is taking heat online for breaking a promise to abandon legislation if it didn’t earn the support of the Utah Board of Education. In late January, Rep. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, posted on Instagram and Facebook about pitching his bill, HB136, to the school board. The bill directs the school board to review federal education mandates and, if those mandates conflict with state goals, to request funding from lawmakers to allow Utah schools to ignore the federal Department of Education...

Robots to help teach children with autism? A House committee decides it is worth a shot

Schools looking to purchase humanoid robots for work with autistic children would get extra help from taxpayers under a bill that gained committee approval Monday. Members of the House Education Committee signed off on HB418, which would set aside $200,000 to reimburse school districts and charter schools for half the cost of a robot designed for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder. At a cost of $5,000 each, bill sponsor Rep. Brad Last, R-Hurricane, said: “The districts or the charters w...

House panel OKs requiring teachers to pass a skills test

A bill requiring the equivalent of a board exam for Utah teachers passed a House committee on Monday after a lengthy debate. The proposal was approved by the Senate earlier this month in a 22-3 vote. But it split the Republican members of the House Education Committee and would have failed if not for supporting votes by the committee’s two Democrats. Sponsored by Sen. Ann Millner, R-Ogden, SB78 would require graduates of a university education program to pass a test of pedagogical skills — suc...

Bill to stop the flow of funding from Utah K-12 schools to colleges hits committee roadblock

A proposal to cap the amount of income tax revenue awarded to higher education faced a cool reception in the Senate Education Committee on Monday. The committee voted to move on without a vote on SB255, which would place a five-year moratorium on expanding the pool of Education Fund money diverted from elementary, middle and high schools to public colleges and universities. “Any growth in the income tax would be retained by K-12 education,” bill sponsor Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said. ...

House votes to give power, independence to School Children's Trust director

The director of Utah’s School Children’s Trust would receive independent authority and the potential for unlimited six-year terms under a bill approved Monday by the Utah House of Representatives. The Utah Board of Education currently hires — and is able to fire — the director of the School Children’s Trust Section, which oversees distribution of education funding from the $2.3 billion Permanent State School Fund. But under HB291, the school board would appoint the section’s director, with a c...

Board places Utah County charter school on probation over student safety, financial mismanagement

Vineyard’s Franklin Discovery Academy was reprimanded Saturday, making the school’s future uncertain beyond the current academic year. The state charter school board voted to place the Franklin Discovery under formal probation, giving administrators and staff until June to address a series of perceived lapses in financial management, campus operations and student safety. “I would like to see if the current board and the current staff can make this work,” state charter school board member Dean ... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

School board staff describe disarray, dysfunction and safety concerns at Utah County charter

Administrators from Vineyard’s Franklin Discovery Academy defended themselves Friday against allegations of running an unsecured, disorganized campus where a former employee was inappropriate with a student. At a hearing of the Utah Charter School Board, staff members of the board who visited the campus this week reported witnessing a lack of adult supervision, safety hazards and a largely disorganized class schedule with little instructional learning. “Children are coming and going all the time...

House votes to eliminate letter grades for schools

The House voted Friday to end the practice of assigning letter grades to public schools. “We have put so much pressure and so many labels on the schools,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Marie Poulson, “that it has a very demoralizing effect and we can’t get teachers to work with our kids who need the most help.” The House voted 54-18 to pass her HB241, and sent it to the Senate. Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights, a teacher, is proposing to maintain a statewide school accountability system, but includ... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Black students at BYU report ignorant comments, cultural isolation

Dhina Clement vividly remembers the day she realized Brigham Young University students looked at her differently because she is black. She was on campus when a male student commented on her hair. She was flattered — until he followed up with an “ignorant” statement that made her uncomfortable. He was from New York, he told her, and “He said, ‘Ya know, I’m used to girls like you ... ya know, girls who wear weaves all the time,’ ” she said in a YouTube video posted earlier this month. Clement didn... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Plan takes shape for spending Our Schools Now tax money

Since the launch of the Our Schools Now ballot initiative in November, organizers have emphasized that an individual school’s slice of $750 million would hinge on improved performance. But beyond raising Utah’s income tax from 5 percent to 5.875 percent, the initiative has been short on specifics for how schools would spend the infusion of cash. On Thursday, Our Schools Now shared the draft elements of its performance plan, which would see all schools receive additional funding on a per-student ...

Most Utah school districts say Trump transgender-bathroom reversal changes nothing, but one applauds move

Though at least one Utah school district is cheering President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of a federal directive to public schools to let transgender students choose which restroom they use, most others say it changes nothing. Canyons, Granite, Jordan and Weber school districts say they will continue addressing the needs of their students on a case-by-case basis — as they did before President Barack Obama’s 2016 “Dear Colleague” letter set guidelines for public schools to allow transgender stude... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Senate committee approves college 'Know Before You Go' bill

A Senate panel on Wednesday signed off on a bill requiring Utah’s colleges and universities to notify prospective students about the debt and job placement rates of graduates. Members of the Senate Education Committee voted 4-0 for HB100, which would make information available on campus websites listing the total cost — including tuition, fees, books and equipment — for academic programs, the number of students who take out and default on loans and entry-level wage data for alumni. Bill sponso...

Utah won't 'soak the rich' to fund schools -- Income tax increase dies without debate in committee

A Senate committee made quick work Wednesday of shutting down a bill that would lift the income tax rate for wealthy Utahns. Without debate, from lawmakers or members of the public, the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee voted 4-2 against SB141, which would create a 7 percent income tax for individuals earning more than $250,000, or couples earning more than $500,000. Utahns below those earning levels would continue to be taxed at a 5 percent rate. “This isn’t about class warfare,” said bi... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Immigration resolution elicits praise from community, SLC school board considers it

The calls West High School teacher Valerie Gates receives from worried parents are coming more and more frequently. The callers wonder whether it’s safe to send their undocumented children to school, Gates said, terrified that that day is the day their boys and girls will be deported. “I talk to [parents] every day, and when I say send them to school, am I telling them the right thing?” Gates asked Tuesday at a Salt Lake City School District Board of Education meeting. “Can I truly protect them... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Senate committee signs off on repealing Utah's 'no promo homo' sex-ed law

A prohibition against the advocacy of homosexuality in Utah’s sex-education classes may be on the way out after a Senate panel voted unanimously Tuesday to strike the language from state code. The so-called “no promo homo” law is being targeted in court by Equality Utah, which filed a lawsuit in October accusing the state of promoting an anti-gay curriculum in public schools. Clifford Rosky, a University of Utah professor and Equality Utah board member, said the legal ambiguity of what “advoca...

Proposed changes to school turnaround programs would be less reliant on grades

Utah’s nascent school turnaround program would get a makeover under a bill that received committee approval on Tuesday. Under SB234, the $7 million-a-year program would continue to hire private contractors to work with struggling public schools. But success would be based on “statistically significant improvement,” rather than increasing by a letter grade under school grading, and turnaround schools would have the ability to use a portion of state funding on teacher retention efforts — if thos...

Students, advocates want Salt Lake City schools to push back against deportation raids

Students and community organizers are asking the Salt Lake City School District to take a stand against the deportation of undocumented Utahns. At Tuesday’s meeting of the district school board, the advocacy group Unidade Inmigrante plans to present a resolution urging the district to maintain the privacy of student-citizenship records and to demand warrants for any Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions carried out on school grounds. “We just want to make sure we’re keeping our stude... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

State School Board would lose ability to reject new charters under bill OK'd by committee

New charter schools would no longer need the approval of the Utah Board of Education to open their doors under a bill that gained committee approval Thursday. Under SB223, the State Charter School Board would continue to review and authorize new charter applications. But once an application is authorized, the state school board would have the option to either consent to the charter board’s decision, or return the decision to the charter board for further consideration. “It’s not just a flat-o...