GEA is also saying farewell with gratitude to the over 100 career educators and dedicated members who are retiring this year. Bittersweet to be sure.
As reported in a recent blog post, Granite School District Board of Directors and Superintendency continue to honor the ratified agreement which included a 5% COLA and 3% One-time Bonus. A huge lift to be sure as the state legislature meets today in its Public Education Appropriation Committee to discuss how the education budget should be reduced. In February and March many of GEA’s association representatives held school walk-ins to speak out loud the need for adequate funding for our schools and students. Teachers wore Red and organized both parents and students to join the walk-ins in support for increased funding. Before closing the 2020 Utah Legislative Session, legislators enacted a 6% increase to the Weighted Pupil Unit which honored the desperate need of funding for our public schools. Now, even though Utah is last in the nation for per pupil funding, the legislature is looking at taking back its promised increase due to state economic loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand some budgetary adjustments must be made, but strongly plea that public education is held harmless.
GEA believes that public education should be the last place, not the first, where state leaders focus budget cuts in the troubled economic times we face. The multi-million dollar rainy day fund should be utilized to fill budget shortfalls. Utah’s rainy day fund ranks 19th in the nation, and the state is healthy financially because of this prudence in savings. However, being last in the nation for per pupil funding, and NOT utilize the rainy day fund but further cut public education funding is backward-thinking at best. Perhaps if the legislature is looking in every nook and cranny for funding cuts, it should consider the $6 million voucher bill it passed in a recent special session. Just saying.