On the final day of this year’s legislative session a letter was read in both the House and Senate thanking lawmakers for their efforts to fund education.
The letter outlined a number of services that will be funded in the nearly $240 million approved for new education spending. Including teacher supplies, regional service center, educator licensing fees and a 4% increase in the weighted pupil unit (WPU) value.
"Your commitment to student achievement and positive outcomes in schools is commendable," the letter reads.
It was signed by the Utah Education Association, the Utah Board of Education, the PTA and a number of other organizations.
Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund said such a letter was unusual and it was met with applause from his fellow Senators.
“I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to hear it," Okerlund said.
“I think we could have done more," says Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis. “Have we reached where we really need to be? I don’t think so."
Davis did see one of his bills pass on Thursday that helps fund services for students with autism. But he says Utah is still failing to attract and retain effective teachers.
He also pointed to the goal of Our Schools Now, an initiative that is working toward a goal of $750 million for state education. About three times the amount of what the legislature is currently willing to spend.
Davis says it’s time for Utah to fund growth rather than simply treading water.