Ogden School District officials are looking at ways to alleviate large class sizes this school year. With an overall enrollment increase of nearly 200 students, many elective classes and some core classes are feeling a squeeze.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert joined statewide education officials Wednesday for a discussion about the state of public education.

Governor Gary Herbert says in the last two years, the state has made strides in funding public education. However he says because of a growing student population Utah continues to claim the title for lowest per-pupil spending and has the largest class sizes in the nation. In addition the high school dropout rate is 19 percent.

Despite few resources, Herbert says there is work to be done. 

The Utah State Board of Education is trying to decide how best to discipline teachers who’ve been involved in misconduct. Specifically, they are asking: under what circumstances should they be expected to permanently revoke a teacher’s educator license? 

More public school students in Utah are taking advanced placement exams; and they did better on those tests this year than last. According to the latest data from the College Board, the organization that develops and administers standardized tests, Utah participation rates increased about 8 percent in the 2012, 2013 school year.  And there was a 7 percent increase in the number of exams with scores of 3, 4, or 5. Those scores translate to college credit for some colleges and universities.

The Ogden City School Board agreed last week to extend Superintendent Brad Smith’s contract for another two years. Under the new contract, Smith, who earns $120,000 per year, is offered an additional $6,000 in potential bonuses, contingent upon his performance over the next year. Jennifer Zundel  is Vice President of the Ogden School Board. She says most district superintendents in Utah earn upwards of $200,000 per year.

Bob Nelson

The Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building on the University of Utah campus has just received the Gold certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED. That certification mandates the entire building project including the finished product be environmentally responsible, designed to be energy efficient, improve air and water quality while reducing waste. Ted McAleer is the executive director of U-Star, the Utah Science, Technology and Research Initiative.

Schools across Utah for the first time have been issued a single letter grade for their performance. According to the results of a new school grading system, released this morning, more than half of the state’s public schools got an A or a B, while the rest got C’s D’s or F’s. The education community responded this morning by calling the new system poor policy. But lawmakers contend it shines a light on poor-performing public schools.

The Utah State Office of Education released the letter grade evaluations of Utah Schools today. The grades are based on a combination of student growth and student performance on state testing in language arts, math, and science. The State Office of Education also graded high schools with the additional metric of graduation rates. If a school failed to test at least 95% of their students they automatically received an F grade. That's what happened for schools like Viewmont High School in the Davis School District.

Bob Nelson

The Salt Lake City Police Department Motorcycle Squad is in the middle of its annual two-week Motor School for officers who want to join this elite group.  The officers are training 10 to 12 hours per day at the Utah State Fairgrounds Parking lot.

Officer Thomas Wind is the lead instructor this year. He says the school opens with about a dozen candidates for the squad but even good riders drop out due to fatigue and minor injuries. Wind says they hope to add up to four new officers to the squad.

On Tuesday, schools in Utah will be getting evaluation grades A through F to indicate how well their students are performing. Many in the education community say it will be giving parents the wrong impression about some schools. But Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser says it will make assessing schools more accurate and transparent.

Critics say the new letter grading system for school performance that was passed into law earlier this year is so narrow in its calculations that it will appear as though schools are doing worse than they are.

Democratic State Senator Pat Jones is working on legislation that would eliminate the Utah personal tax exemption given to those who claim someone in their home as a dependent.

Utah State Office of Education

Next month, schools in Utah will get two sets of report cards outlining their performance for the last year. One report is based on Utah’s Comprehensive Accountability System or UCAS, which is a grading method the State Office of Education is already using. The other system, state lawmakers approved during the 2013 legislative session.

With the new system, schools are given a letter grade of A through F to indicate their overall performance for the last school year. With UCAS, each school is graded on a 600 point scale.

File: University of Utah Health Sciences

The University of Utah’s new School of Dentistry broke ground on the 36 point four million dollar Ray and Tye Noorda Oral Health Building Friday. The University’s senior vice president for health sciences Dr. Vivian Lee says the new school is expected to become a top 10 institution in the nation in reputation and research.

”It is the first new academic school of dentistry in over 25 years,” says Dr. Lee.

While the cost of obtaining a college degree in the United States continues to rise, Utah colleges and universities manage to keep college debt in check. NerdScholar, a website that helps college students make better decisions about higher education is calling Utah the 2nd best state in the nation for low student debt. 

Bob Nelson

Rules that target unsafe use of human-powered vehicles at the University of Utah have been approved by the U’s Board of Trustees following months of debate. Sidewalks and bike lanes are now the only places to ride on campus and speeds are limited to 10 miles per hour. Skaters or riders who break the rules get a probationary warning that lasts for two years.

Ogden School District Superintendent Brad Smith met with a group of Weber County Democrats this morning who are concerned about how education officials are managing the district. 

Back in June the Weber County Democratic Education Caucus requested information from the school district on testing data, teacher attrition and copies of the budget. 

A group of school teachers in Utah are testing out some new math software today that they’ll be using in the classroom this year. It’s part of a new pilot program state lawmakers set in motion aimed at helping students master topics in science, technology, engineering and math or STEM. 

Jordan School District

Jordan School District is bursting at the seams. Schools there are growing at the rate of nearly two elementary schools a year. They’re growing so fast, that the Jordan School Board voted unanimously Tuesday for a bond measure that will make way for the construction of 11 new schools. 

Bob Nelson

Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City now features three pieces of an asteroid that slammed into the earth’s atmosphere over Russia in February this year. Planetarium director Seth Jarvis says the event created a shock wave several times the power of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

Anti-Common Core activists and state education officials reached an impasse today when they tried to resolve their differences over Utah’s newly adopted education standards. 

Activists rallied outside the State Office of Education Friday morning to re-affirm their opposition to the Common Core which the state adopted in 2010.  Christel Swasey is a teacher and parent.

File: University of Utah Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

A current-year investment of nearly one billion dollars for state infrastructure of roads, bridges, drinking water, dams and waste water treatment is the recommendation of a University of Utah team of civil engineering students. The group of 18 students and 4 staff members from the “U” relied on data available from various government agencies and presented the preliminary report Tuesday to a room full of state and local officials. AJ Burton of Draper is working on his Bachelor degree in civil engineering.

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a Senate compromise today that shrinks student loan rates. Members of Utah’s congressional delegation say it was a good bipartisan deal. 

Earlier this month, rates on federally subsidized student loans doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent after Congress failed to reach a deal before a July 1st deadline. In a retroactive move, the U.S. Senate agreed on a bill last week that would bring those rates back down.

Utah State Office of Education

Public schools in Utah are getting fewer federal education dollars this year than last;  due in part to federal budget cuts, but also because there are more low-income students nationwide who are in need. 

A projected nine percent reduction in Title 1 funding nationally will mean cutbacks in summer school programs, teachers and technology in many school districts and charter schools locally.

Bob Nelson

The Salt Lake County Council Tuesday unanimously approved a $350,000 expansion of voluntary preschool for at-risk children. It’s a public-private partnership between the County and Goldman Sachs, along with help from philanthropist J.B. Pritzker. Brenda Van Gorder is the Granite School District Preschool Services Director. She says kids who started as at-risk youth in district pre-school are entering 6th grade in the fall and are turning out to be great kids.

Utah schools will be getting a little extra boost from the School LAND Trust Program.  The state treasurer announced Friday that school trust fund investments received record earnings, pushing the total value over 1.6 billion dollars at the end of the state’s fiscal year in June.

Hill Air Force Base Motorcycle Safety Program

Drivers from Layton to Ogden including West Haven and South Weber may be affected by the 4th Annual “See Me Save Me” Motorcycle Ride from the Hill Air Force Base Aerospace Museum Thursday morning. Alan Woods is the motorcycle safety program manager at Hill Air Force Base. He says he’s expecting about 500 motorcycle riders to gather for the event tomorrow beginning at 10:30.

Bob Nelson

A legislative audit released today accuses the University of Utah of competing with private businesses by selling U of U merchandise at its off-campus “Red Zone” stores. The audit says the university needs to change the way it does business or state lawmakers should step in.

Republican State Representative Johnny Anderson says he first became concerned about Higher Education competing with the private sector last year when employees of the Dixie State College- run television station were under fire for leasing its broadcast vehicle out for non-university purposes.

Investigators have released a summary of their investigation into the University of Utah swim team and its embattled former coach.  The team was hired by the University’s Board of Trustees to research and review evidence linked to ousted coach Greg Winslow’s alleged misconduct and the University’s response to those allegations.

Student loan interest rates are set to double on Monday after members of Congress failed to agree on how to keep costs down before a July 1 deadline. 

Next week, interest rates on Federal Subsidized Stafford loans will jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.John Curl is director of financial aid and scholarships at the University of Utah, where he says student’s take out between 9 and 10,000 individual subsidized loans each year. But he says they won’t feel the sting of higher interest rates until after graduation.

Many students who are enrolled in charter schools across the nation are gaining on their traditional public school peers in some academic areas. But according to a new independent study out of Stanford University, Utah charter Schools are lagging behind.