Our Schools Now: Teacher and Student Success Initiative

Below is the current draft of the Our Schools Now initiative. Campaign leaders continue to meet with educators, parents, businesses and civic organizations, and will revise the initiative as needed. If you would like to share your thoughts with the campaign on the contents of the proposed initiative, you may do so here. The final initiative will not be submitted to the Lt. Governor’s Office for final approval until mid-2017.

 

Background/Context:

  • Effective teachers are the foundation of a successful school, and impact student achievement more than any other factors in the school building.
  • State Income Tax in Utah is used exclusively for Public K-12 and Higher Education.
  • Tax cuts in the recent past have diminished funding for education in the state by $1.2 billion per year.
  • These tax cuts coupled with our large number of children is a recipe for low spending per child.

 

Our Schools Now: Teacher and Student Success Initiative:

  • Raises personal income tax rates from 5% to 5.875% to increase funds for K-12 and Higher Education (including technical colleges) in Utah.
  • Estimates that this increase will raise $750 million each year.
    • This translates to roughly an additional $1,000 per student per year. The value of the WPU (the basic unit of state education funding) is currently $3,184.
    • Schools with 1,000 students could be allocated an additional $1 million dollars per year.
  • Creates a special account, separate from other education funds, where the additional tax money will be collected and distributed to schools that develop specific plans to spend the money to improve their school.
  • Allows for the greatest degree of local control and decision making at each school by requiring schools to develop their own unique plans for spending the new money, tailored to the greatest needs for teachers to be successful in helping students at individual schools.

 

Teacher and Student Success Initiative in K-12 schools

  • The additional tax money is appropriated to the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) to distribute to LEAs (school districts and charter schools) based on the existing WPU distribution.
    • For the first two years, schools will receive their full allocation allotment of new funding to implement the plan.
    • For the third year and beyond, a school needs to meet performance metrics and standards to continue receiving the full funding. If a school does not meet these targets, it receives a proportionate amount of the money.
  • Each LEA is required to create a framework with goals and priorities for its schools.
    • Each school creates a Teacher and Student Success Funding Plan, aligning with the LEA’s framework.
  • A portion of the funds may be used to increase teachers’ salary schedules, with the remaining majority to spend on new interventions and other tools to help teachers improve outcomes for their students.
    • Schools can spend additional funds on reducing class sizes, extending teacher contracts, professional development, hiring additional teachers and other support personnel, technology, early learning, or other reasonable uses to impact improvement.