Eight educators from Grand County School District attended the Educator’s Day on the Hill in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 22. Teachers from the high and middle schools, as well as HMK, supported by the Grand Education Association and Utah Education Association, traveled to meet with lawmakers and discuss priorities to support students and schools during the 2019 Utah Legislative Session.
The educators met with state Sen. David Hinkins and state Reps. Christina Watkins and Carl Albrecht to express their concerns over education bills that are being presented to the Legislature this year. The group’s main priorities were to focus on appropriation of funding and address four major areas – individualized student attention, the ongoing teacher shortage, student equity, and student health and safety.
The Utah Education Association suggests that these measures can be implemented by increasing the funding of the Weighted Pupil Unit by 6.5 percent and allowing each Utah school district to allocate the money to fit the unique needs of each district.
The group of Grand County teachers and GEA members spoke in support of these initiatives (SB149: Teacher and Student Success Act) and emphasized that an increase in WPU would allow local school districts maximum flexibility in addressing local needs.
In addition to attending the Educator’s Day on the Hill, these teachers are involved in a leadership program sponsored by the National Education Association. The Early Leadership Institute program is intended for teachers who are 35 years old or younger and are in the first three years of their teaching career.
The group, along with a coach and local association leaders, is working to develop projects to address the obstacles of young educators and why they may leave the profession. According to a study released by the Utah Education Policy Center in collaboration with the Utah State Board of Education, 56 percent of teachers who began in the profession in 2007-08 were no longer teaching by the 2014-15 school year.
The Early Leadership Institute Grand County cohort is working toward identifying and offering solutions to why teachers in Grand County may follow the state trend. It is a yearlong project that works with teachers, community members, district administration and the school board in order to find solutions and improve Grand County’s teacher retention through systematic programming.