SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – One of the ways Utah schools are funded is up for a vote this election. Constitutional Amendment B looks to make changes to the State School Fund and how monies are distributed.
It’s no secret that Utah’s education funding isn’t making the grade. According to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy priorities out of Washington D.C. Utah is currently ranked 6th worst in the country for cuts in per-pupil state funding since the recession.
Heidi Matthews, President of the Utah Education Association said, “In fact right now we are something like 11 to 12% behind our per-pupil spending than we were in 2008.”
The $2 billion State School Fund comes from the profits earned on the 3.5 million acres of School Trust Land. Amendment B changes what can be distributed from the State School Fund from “interest and dividends” to “earnings.” If passed in the first year the State School Fund’s estimated “earnings” will be $79 million. That’s $22 million than the fund is estimated to receive from “interest and dividends” alone.
That money will be distributed straight to the individual schools. What’s done with that money is decided by each school’s community council.
“It’s a lot of money to be able to support classrooms, to maybe add an additional aide so we can have more one on ones with students. More supportive reading programs, more after-school enrichment,” said Matthews.
The amendment also places a protective 4 percent cap on those distributions.
State Board of Education member Jefferson Ross, who also works in investment management, says Amendment B makes good financial sense. “It modernizes and updates the distribution formula, and two it really helps us to implement best practices in investment management.”
While the UEA and the State Board of Education are supporting Amendment B they both agree Utah has a long way to go before education funding is where it needs to be.
Matthews said, “there have been investments made in the schools over the years, but they have not kept pace with the growth that is needed; they’re not to pre-recession levels.”
For more information on Amendment B log on to: https://vote.utah.gov/vote/profile/viewPDF.html?id=269508075