Education Funding for Public Education – Senator Ben McAdams

On Friday, Senator Ben McAdams unveiled his bill to increase Utah’s public education funding without raising taxes for Utah families.

Here’s an article in the Deseret News which talks about his plan.

Money, technology to be top education issues this legislative session

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705397844/Money-technology-to-be-top-education-issues-this-legislative-session.html?pg=1

 

 

#1 Again – NCSL Back to School Program

Slated to “kick off” the third week of every September and run through the school year, America’s Legislators Back to School Program gives elected officials in all 50 states the opportunity to teach young people–the nation’s future voters and leaders–what it’s like to be a state legislator: the processes, the pressures, and the debate, negotiation and compromise that are the very fabric of representative democracy. The program is emphasized as a bipartisan event. Legislators of both political parties are urged to participate in this national event and help bring civics to life for young people.

Once again, UTAH is #1 in the country with 91% of legislators visiting schools in their districts during the 2009-2010 school year.  For complete results, click here.  Utah also ranked #1 in 2008-09, 2005-06 and 2002-03.  Utah ranked #2 in 2007-08, 2006-07 and 2003-04; and #3 in 2004-05.

Top Three Legislatures
Utah – 91%
Hawaii – 67%
Virginia – 66%

Top Three House
Utah – 92%
Hawaii – 67%
Virginia – 60%

Top Five Senate
Massachusetts – 100%
Utah – 90%
Virginia – 80%

CONGRATULATIONS to our 104 legislators and to Shelley Day in the Office of Legislative Research and General Council who oversees the program for the Utah Legislature.

America’s Back to School Program was founded in 1999 as part of the Trust for Representative Democracy at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Salute to Teachers and Tribute to Ms. Barbara Whaley

by Senator Ross Romero
Senate Minority Whip

Ms WhaleyAs the school year winds down, I want to take this opportunity to thank Utah’s teachers and educators for making a difference in the lives of their students.  I am amazed and impressed with the dedicated educators who have undertaken the critical assignment of preparing the next generation of Utah’s and America’s leaders.

My second grade teacher Barbara Whaley passed away June 1 at the age of 61 in Salt Lake City.  She was one of those teachers of whom I speak.  She was a teacher at Indian Hills Elementary School for 39 years, impacting the lives of thousands of first and second graders just like me.  My classmates and I adored her, and to this day, I feel a kinship with her and carry the memories of a wonderful school year as a young boy.  I attended her funeral recently and learned of her love for the 4th of July, buying tee shirts for family members to celebrate the occasion, her fondness of chocolate kisses, and her commitment to family.  I only knew her as a great teacher and appreciated hearing about her love in action.  She will be missed.

Many teachers perform their work in a system deficient in textbooks, supplies, professional development time, and appropriate classroom size.  Teachers spend many additional hours and dollars of their own to provide an education for our children.  Despite these challenges, teachers continue to be dedicated to their students.  The work they do in the classroom is deserving of the highest praise.  They serve as mothers, fathers, counselors, friends, nurses, disciplinarians, and finally as teachers.

Teachers, and especially at this time, Ms. Whaley, thank you for all you do for our community and our future.

Utah’s School Children Deserve Better

Brent Goodfellowby Senator Brent Goodfellow
Senate District 12

School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration’s bonuses are an outrage to the legislators and the people of Utah.  Last year in the Legislative session, a prohibition was placed on bonuses for the 2010 fiscal year.   This did not deny the top executives at SITLA the pleasure of huge bonus payouts to themselves.  On June 30, 2009 (the last day of the budget year), the top two SITLA executives received payments totaling $114,660.   In fact, for the total $428,000 in bonuses paid out to employees in fiscal year 2009, $294,000 was paid to the top six executives. These bonuses were simply a double payout in order for the Administration to get around the prohibition set by the Legislature for this fiscal year.  SITLA defends the bonuses claiming that their goals were met so the bonuses were earned, but they fail to mention that they lowered the target goal by 25%.  This is a topic that needs to be addressed and not tolerated by the people of our state.

Shadow a School Nurse Program

Senator Mayne at News ConferenceSenator Karen MayneThis morning, Senator Karen Mayne, Granite School District Superintendent Dr. Stephen Ronnenkamp, and Ms. Jamie Ferdinand of the Utah School Nurse Association announced the launch of the “Shadow a School Nurse Program.”  Linda Hansen, Region 5 Director for Utah PTA, and Debbie Guymon, Region 5 Associate Director for Utah PTA, were also in attendance and support the “Shadow a School Nurse Program.”  (Region 5 is comprised of schools in Granite School District).  The news conference was held at Oquirrh Hills Elementary School in Kearns.   

Each day, school nurses provide vital medical care for students who contend with health and emotional issues.  Equally vital is funding for school nurses.  Beginning in October, the “Shadow a School Nurse Program” will provide opportunities for legislators to shadow school nurses at the schools in their legislative districts to experience first hand how a school nurse spends his/her day.  The importance of school nurses cannot be over-emphasized. 

 Following the news conference, attendees shadowed the school nurse at Oquirrh Hills Elementary School, Janet Bryner.  Mrs. Bryner provided medical care for students at Oquirrh Hills who have diabetes.  She checked their blood sugar to determine if and when insulin should be administered.  Mrs. Bryner provides medical services at nine schools in Granite District. 

 Senator Mayne expresses her appreciation to Oquirrh Hills Elementary Principal Vicki Ricketts and others in the school who facilitated this news conference.

sen-mayne-supt-ronnenkamp-small.jpg
Superintendent Ronnenkamp and Senator Mayne

linda-hansen-sen-mayne-debbie-guymon-pta-small.jpg
Linda Hansen, Utah PTA; Senator Mayne; Debbie Guymon, Utah PTA

The Group
The Group

Nurse Bryner & Kimberly Rodriquez
School nurse Janet Bryner asks Kimberly Rodriguez to call her mom
about this morning’s insulin dose.

Nurse Bryner & Cade Cummings
School nurse Janet Bryner helps Kade Cummings check his blood sugar.

Nurse Bryner and Senator Mayne
Senator Karen Mayne and School Nurse Janet Bryner

Senator Mayne and Principal Vicki Ricketts
Senator Karen Mayne and Oquirrh Hills Elementary Principal Vicki Ricketts

Thanks from the Kids
Thanks from the kids

Utah’s Number One Again

Slated to “kick off” the third week of every September and run through the school year, America’s Legislators Back to School Program gives elected officials in all 50 states the opportunity to teach young people–the nation’s future voters and leaders–what it’s like to be a state legislator: the processes, the pressures, and the debate, negotiation and compromise that are the very fabric of representative democracy. The program is emphasized as a bipartisan event. Legislators of both political parties are urged to participate in this national event and help bring civics to life for young people.

“Just in” results indicate UTAH is NUMBER ONE in the country again with 94% of legislators visiting schools in their districts during the 2008-2009 school year. (Massachusetts and Utah tied for first place.)  Utah also ranked number one in 2005-06 and 2002-03.  Utah ranked number two in 2007-08, 2006-07, and 2003-04 and number three in 2004-05.

Top Five Legislatures
Utah & Massachusetts – 94%
Virginia – 91%
Pennsylvania – 80%
Nebraska – 71%
Alaska – 60%

Top Five House
Pennsylvania- 100%
Utah & Massachusetts – 93%
Virginia – 91%
New Jersey – 64%
Hawaii – 61%

Top Five Senate
Louisiana & Massachusetts – 100%
Utah – 97%
Virginia – 93%
Nebraska – 71%
Nevada – 57%

CONGRATULATIONS to our 104 legislators and to Shelley Day in the Office of Legislative Research and General Council who oversees the program for the Utah Legislature.

Click here to see our state rankings through the years.

Click here to see the top 10 state comparison charts through the years.

America’s Back to School Program was founded in 1999 as part of the Trust for Representative Democracy at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). This year marks the 10th anniversary of America’s Back to School Program.

Congratulations, Susan!

Last Friday, Susan Kuziak, received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award presented to her by the Utah State Democratic Party.  Susan was recognized for exemplifying the high standards and compassionate philosophy of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Susan is an active public employee advocate, public school champion, and community service volunteer.  Since moving to Utah in 1984, Susan has worked diligently on a wide variety of issues.  She has encouraged Utah women to run for elective office.  She was a founding member of the bipartisan “100 Years – 100 Women” project.  You can count on Susan to give honest input, accurate information, and valuable insights.

Congratulation, Susan!  You are certainly deserving of this prestigious award.

It’s Time to Save

Senator Ross Romeroby Senator Ross Romero
District 7

September is National College Savings Month, and I wanted to make sure all the parents and families of future college students know about the Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP).  The importance of a college education cannot be overemphasized.

Did you know?

1.     College graduates age 25 and over earn nearly twice as much as workers who only have a high school diploma.

2.     Earnings from 529 plans are not taxed when used to pay for eligible college expenses.

3.     Utah taxpayers receive a 5% tax credit on contributions up to $1,650 per beneficiary, equaling $82.50.  If filing jointly, the 5% credit is applied to contributions up to $3,300 per beneficiary, equaling $165.  The UESP 529 account must be established before the beneficiary’s 19th birthday to qualify for the credit.

4.     No minimum investment is required to open or maintain a Utah Educational Savings Plan college savings account.

Did you know the UESP has been nationally recognized for its management?

“You will typically find the lowest costs among direct-sold 529s, such  as Utah’s Educational Savings Plan, with expenses of 0.38% or less.”

Money Magazine
August 2007

“The Utah Educational Savings Plan, which is run by the state, remains a top choice due to a diverse lineup of portfolios and low annual expenses, which mostly range from 0.25% to 0.38% across its portfolios.”

Wall Street Journal
March 1, 2007

While I have provided examples from UESP’s program, there are many other 529 plans which you may want to consider.  I personally have opened a UESP account for my son.  I know how much my university experience and education have meant for me (including meeting my wife), and I wanted to make sure he also has those same opportunities.

If you would like more information about saving for college, please review www.collegesavings.org/didYouKnows.aspx.

If you would like more information about USEP or would like to open an account, please visit www.uesp.org.