Utah State Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-District 25, sits on a number of education and judiciary committees in the 2019 legislature and said his key focus this year is working on the Public Education Budget.
Education is also a priority for Utah Governor Gary Herbert. In his recent State of the State address, Herbert said “there is no better investment that we can make than in our Utah students.” He continued, “We can keep our schools healthy and safe by investing $30 million into much needed counseling and mental health services. We can also put over $100 million into upgrading facilities, two-thirds of which should go in to school safety improvements.”
Sen. Hillyard is part of a committee looking at ways to best appropriate millions of dollars that “will give the local schools money for school safety, which includes protecting their buildings, having nurses, counselors and help for kids.”
An important issue for a number of school districts, according to Hilllyard, is “the need for mental health counselors.” He said mental health issues are better solved within the family, but “not all families are able to offer the necessary support to their children.”
Hillyard would like to see money allocated to each school district in the form of a block grant. “Let them decide what’s the highest priority in their district,” he said.
“Some districts already have counselors in schools,” according to Hillyard. In those situations, “funds could be utilized in other areas such as school safety,” he said.
Gov. Herbert said the state has set an ambitious five-year goal to invest an additional $1 billion in new ongoing revenue into public education.