Huntsman Proposes Increase in Education Spending
Utah educators have one more reason to celebrate this holiday season. The governor’s 2007 budget recommendations include a 5.5 percent increase in the amount of money Utah spends per child. Jon Huntsman Jr. unveiled his proposed state budget Dec. 9. Park City School District Superintendent, Dave Adamson, had a positive response to the budget, "I think we’re all encouraged by it. He’s picked up on some important issues for us and seems to be embracing them." Business Administrator for PCSD, Von Hortin said, "It’s a pretty substantial increase." He noted it is a full percentage point higher than last year’s allotment per student. The additional funding is part of a proposed $2.5 billion for the Minimum School Program which covers school operating costs. The budget allots 84 percent of taxes and public education fees to the district’s maintenance and operating budgets witch includes teacher’s salaries. Hortin expressed that overall he is very pleased with the governor’s proposal but said, "I’d like to see them do more in remediation." This includes taking steps to help children who do not pass the Utah Basic Skills Competency Test. Support for these students would be funded with $2 million if the budget were approved.
Other highlights taken from the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Recommendations include: State Office of Education $243.3 million The office sets school’s curriculum and disburses $205 million in federal funds to Utah schools. Child Nutrition Programs $118.7 million This goes towards school breakfast and lunch programs. The state has helped serve nearly 5 million lunches at an average of $1.75 per meal. School Growth $63.4 million During FY 2007 enrollment in Utah schools is expected to increase by 14,688 students. Math initiative $10 million The initiative will be put in place to help all 4th-6th graders prep for advanced mathematics. Technology $10 million Over 38 percent of school computers are more than 4 years old. The $10 million will allow for a partial replacement of the old equipment. On-line Testing $10 million This funding will support the Utah Peformance Assessment System for Students (U-PASS) online testing program. At-risk Kindergarten Students $7 million The governor suggests spending $7 million on a voluntary full-day kindergarten grant program to target at-risk students. Transportation $4.5 million Transportation costs are on the rise, from fuel to the price of school buses. Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind $2.64 million These schools provide an education and other services to 1,882 deaf and blind students throughout the state of Utah. Reading Program $2.5 million The program promotes literacy in schools.
The governor’s proposed budget will be debated by the state legislation during the session that begins in January.
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