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Funding for Education News!

Incoming Budget Cuts to Education

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.

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Academics News! Other Districts in Utah Well-being & Mental Health

Canyons hires a new superintendent

A few days ago, Mr. Robins was announced as the new superintendent for the Canyons district. Mr. Robins will replace Mr. Briscoe who is retiring.
This is noteworthy news, because of Mr. Robins’s accomplishments at the Juab district where he served as superintendent.

Mr. Robins has an impressive resume and the trust of the Canyons school board who unanimously voted for his appointment.

Please read the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune articles below for more information. https://www.deseret.com/utah/2020/4/14/21220596/canyons-school-district-selects-rick-robins-as-new-superintendent

https://www.sltrib.com/news/education/2020/04/15/new-canyons-school/

What interested me greatly was the fact that under Mr. Robins’s leadership, the Juab district has emerged as a national leader in competency-based education and personalized learning.

The accomplishments of Juab school district are described in the Deseret News article.

“In 2015, the school district was inducted into the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools, which recognizes some of the nation’s most innovative and forward-thinking school models. There are only 114 districts which have earned that distinction in the nation. In 2018, Juab School District was honored at the National School Boards Convention by the Center for Digital Education .”

I am also impressed by Mr. Robins’ priority in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis, both in bridging the academic gap and taking care of the looming mental health crisis. As reported in the SL Tribune, “A lot of students, Robins said after the announcement, will likely come back with new fears and concerns, and some with ongoing ones. His goal will be making sure all have a place to go to talk about what they’re experiencing.”

I applaud his priorities as I believe that these should also be front and center in our district.


Congratulations, Mr. Robins, on your new appointment.

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Academics Coronavirus Equity GraniteSchoolDistrict News! Well-being & Mental Health

The soft closure is officially extended to the end of the school year

We will all remember this school year 2019-2020, won’t we ?

The end of the school for the Granite School District was planned for May 22nd, 2020. March 16th, when the soft closure was announced by the Governor to the end of May 2020 is a period 10 weeks. 10 weeks of uncertainty, financial anguish, exhausting role-changing, responsibility-juggling, disease-worrying times. Say no more.

We will survive this once in a lifetime pandemic. But we do have to acknowledge the losses that this crisis forced us into and the challenges ahead.

Besides the obvious ones, I’d like to consider a few school-related ones.

Awards

Awards were given and earned by terrific teachers and students, but went pretty much unnoticed.
I’d like to acknowledge the Sterling Awards, made official on March 19th.
A large number of these remarkable young students came from our Granite School District. The ceremony was cancelled, but let’s recognize them here.
GENERAL STERLING SCHOLAR (English category) – Cindy Phan, Skyline High School

DANCE
Runner-up: Lily Bruce, Skyline High School.

INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC:
Winner: Zoe Schramm, Olympus High School

MATH
Seyij Jung, Skyline High School

SCIENCE
Winner: Sreemanti Dey, Skyline High School

SPEECH/THEATER ARTS/FORENSICS:
Runner-Up: Julane Machado, Skyline High School.

VISUAL ARTS:
Runner-Up: Nicholas Heiner, Skyline High School.

Congratulations to these fine young students for a well deserved award. We admire and respect you !

Also, the Granite School District Excel Awards have not been officially announced yet. Our fantastic teachers and administrators will need to be recognized by all of us in style at some point.

Saying goodbye !

We have missed our teachers, and our teachers have missed our kids. It would have been nice to part as we do other years. We will find a way to say goodbye, but it will involve a safe physical distance.

Graduation

Seniors will miss a typical graduation and will have to have find a way to a different, still meaningful but safe rite of passage. Students have been surveyed and schools are hard at work coming up with an acceptable alternative.

Academics

As we are in the middle of a 10-week period of soft-closure, I am very concerned that a large number of our students have fallen through gaping cracks. Yes, parents now understand better what teachers have been doing in the classroom. I hope that this gives a much larger appreciation for our teachers. But how is the Granite School District planning on addressing the little learning that has happened in so many households ?
If I am elected on the board, I will make it my number 1 priority for the upcoming school year.

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Funding for Education GraniteSchoolDistrict News! Teachers

Successful GEA and GSD Teacher Package Negotiation

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.