UEA president disappointed that legislature did not fund poverty task force

One in five Utah elementary school students is overweight. Children in Utah and around the U.S. are the focus of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Image courtesy Utah Education Assn.

They were hoping for more money from the Utah legislature but Utah Education Association President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh said the four percent increase in the weighted pupil unit will be used in the best way possible to maintain and improve the state’s public school system.

On <a href=”http://610kvnu.com/assets/podcaster/324/2015_03_17_324_31401_2867.mp3″ target=”_blank”>KVNU’s for the People program Monday</a>, Gallagher-Fishbaugh said not only was the money less than UEA had hoped for, but no funding was provided for an inter-generational poverty task force.

“I think if we’re going to talk about addressing needs in schools we need to start looking at the things that cause children to have high needs inside of the classroom,” Gallagher-Fishbaugh explained. “One of those is certainly poverty, English language learners, economically disadvantaged.

“I’m hopeful we will start talking together and collaborating together about ways that we can look at doing community-based learning for not only students but also for parents in helping support great public schools.”

She expressed appreciation to all those who helped with the huge Rally for Education or who helped in any other way during the legislative session.

She said more than 3,000 people turned out for the rally, including teachers, students, principals, superintendents, parents and business leaders.

“The point of the rally was, we had a $730 million surplus. We were simply asking to get back to pre-recession levels. We’re about 5.6% behind where we were pre-recession.

“The folks at that rally were saying we’ve been patient, we were promised that once the economy turned around that this would happen. So we were disappointed.”

Despite not getting as much as they had hoped for, Gallagher-Fishbaugh said the UEA believes Herbert is doing what he can to help education in Utah.

“This governor, I trust him. He is not going to put forth any sort of fiscal legislation that will put the state’s economic prosperity in question.”

Gallagher-Fishbaugh said public education is still behind because of cuts made during the recession in 2007. In fact, she said with the four percent increase this year the state is still approximately $400 per student behind where Utah was before the recession.

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