The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2005 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
The 2006 Utah legislative session ended March 1, but the state budget for fiscal 2007 is not yet final. Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has announced he’ll call lawmakers back to Salt Lake City for a special session to wrap up unfinished business—though not dealing with education—sometime in the next few months.
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Though some aspects of the budget have been left up in the air until the special session, most decisions involving education have been made. When the regular session ended, lawmakers pass a $9.8 billion state budget for the coming fiscal year.
That plan included a significant increase for education, from $2.7 billion in fiscal 2006 to $3 billion in fiscal 2007, said Joe Brown, the assistant manager of the budget section for the Utah Office of Planning and Budget. The change represents a 9 percent increase.
State spending on the per-pupil formula for school districts went up 6 percent.
The budget also includes $7.5 million in first-time aid to compare teacher-professional development programs against incentive-pay programs as ways to improve math achievement. Another $7.5 million will go for a program to provide students remedial help for high school exit exams through vouchers payable to private schools or tutors.
Despite the gains in education funding, some proposals heavily favored by Gov. Huntsman did not gain traction. In particular, a voluntary all-day-kindergarten initiative for low-income schools failed. Though it passed in the House, it could not find support in the Senate, where it didn’t even get a hearing.
A version of this article appeared in the May 10, 2006 edition of Education Week