Here is a sobering update on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis impact on the education budget. Overall, the total budget of the state of Utah could be reduced by as much as 10% (2 billion out of about 20 billion) and all state Agencies in Utah, including the Utah State Board of Education, have been asked by the Utah Legislature to prepare recommendations for budget cuts of 2, 5, and 10 percent as a means of preparing the state for cuts should they be needed in light of the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) met last Thursday and approved its scenarios of budget reduction, 2%, 5% and 10% (382 Millions). These will be proposed to the appropriation committee at the legislature next week.
What an incredible difference from just 2 months ago!
Just 2 months ago, we celebrated a ‘win’, with H.B.357, the Public Education Funding Stabilization (see my email from April 7th).
# Increase the WPU per-student spending by 6% for FY2021 (from 3,532 to 3,743) — or more than $200 millions.
# $200,000 for teaching T.H. Bell scholarships to retain teachers.
# A statutory requirement that Utah boost education funding each year by at least the cost of enrollment growth and inflation.
# Lawmakers will set aside money each year — starting with $75 million and capping out at roughly $400 million — in a new reserve account for use during an economic downturn.
# Funding enrollment growth and inflation
During their Thursday meeting, the USBE recommended up to 382 Millions in budget cuts – about 10% of the overall budget. Please find the excellent article from the Deseret news (https://www.deseret.com/utah/2020/5/21/21266955/state-school-board-budget-cuts-legislature-coronavirus-covid-19).
Some highlights are below. You’d expect that if cuts were done, they’d affect these expenses, but it is nevertheless very painful and will have negative consequences in our classrooms.
Regardless, at the 2% cuts – 76 Millions,
# Professional staff – 20 Millions
# Chart school cuts, cuts of 12 Millions
# School turnaround, cuts of 7 Millions
# Flexible allocation cuts 7.8 Millions
# Teacher and Student Success Act (TSSA) cut of 5.3 Million, The TSSA was passed in law recently, and just took effect on….. Jan 1st, 2020 and was supposed to support teachers and school performance.
# Upstart early education, cuts of 3 Millions
# Special ed intensive services, cuts of 2.8 Millions
The 5% would eliminate the class size reduction program, cutting another $150 Million.
The 10% cuts would do further cuts, with the TSSP and TSSA being the biggest victims
# Complete elimination of the Teacher and Student Success Act (TSSA), cuts of 94 Million, The TSSA was passed in law recently, and just took effect on….. Jan 1st, 2020 and was supposed to support teachers and school performance.
# Complete elimination of the Teacher Salary Supplement Program (TSSP) which incentivizes math & science teachers in middle schools. 19 Millions.
Please click here to see the details of the cuts proposed. https://usbe.civicclerk.com/Web/GenFile.aspx?ad=3729.
I will keep you posted on the legislature’s decisions, and will let you know when I know the impact on the GSD budget, but these measures will inevitably have a dramatic impact on all school districts budgets, including ours.
I’d like to recognize the new agreement that the Granite Education Association (GEA) and the Granite School District just brokered. The GSD and GEA reached an agreement for a 5% COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) and 3% One-time Bonus to teachers for next year 20-21.
The date of the agreement is as meaningful as the agreement itself. On April 1st. We are facing massive downwards swings in the stock markets and layoffs are common occurrence as life as we know it is practically as a standstill.
As a reminder, the agreement for last year (2019-20) was a 2.5% COLA, 3 additional work days, and a 3.0% one-time bonus for both teachers and education support professionals.
Here is my letter to the editor on education funding, published on March 7th, 2020 in the Salt Lake Tribune.
Letter: Let’s increase our education funding
As a taxpayer, a parent and a PTA member, I am a strong advocate for having a strong, high-quality public education system. While I do believe that in Utah we have used our dollars really well, we have stretched them in ways that may not be sustainable for our future.
Therefore, I wholeheartedly support a constant and robust increase to the WPU (weighted pupil unit, money that is dedicated to each kindergarten through 12th grade student in our state), and I would like to see us move away from the 50th position in the nation on this metric. Compensating our teachers more fairly is a sure way for our districts and schools to continue to attract and retain talent to teach our students and ensure a bright future for Utah.
That said, I agree with Rep. Thurston’s concerns about the burden that increase in education funding brings to seniors and fixed income folks with corresponding increases in property tax. His proposed bill (HB77) allows the increase in education funding but caps the impact on the property tax to 4%. Given the budget “imbalance” that the governor has explained to us, the income tax will be able to shoulder the increase.