Proposed legislation could give Utah teachers more days to train and prepare at no additional cost to taxpayers –but it would mean fewer days in the classroom with students. Members of the Senate Education Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to advance the bill.
Senate Bill 103, sponsored by Republican Senator Aaron Osmond would give local school districts the flexibility to swap regular instruction days for teacher professional development days.
Prior to the recession, local school districts in Utah received about $70 million for professional development. That money has since diminished. But many educators say restoring that money—and time is a high priority.
“We all heard loud and clear, that there is a significant need and benefit of professional development,” Osmond says.
Osmond’s bill would enable local school boards to set aside up to 60 hours or 8 days of classroom time for teacher preparation. Osmond says the state would not incur any additional cost associated with budgeting for teacher preparation time.
“The challenge is how do we fund it?” Osmond says. “I believe this is a great middle-ground solution.”
Dr. Sara Jones is Director of Educational Excellence and Community Outreach for the Utah Education Association. She says teachers do need more development day.
“But you have to balance that against, the sufficient amount of student instructional time, to put all those things into implementation,” Jones says.
Jones says the UEA would advocate restoring money for professional days, rather than taking kids out of the classroom.
Osmond contends highly trained, prepared teachers have more of an impact on student achievement, than just additional days in the classroom.