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A look at how public education fared in the 2019 legislative session

A new online tool provided by the Office of the Utah State Auditor offers comparisons of spending and student progress per district.

SALT LAKE CITY — School safety and school funding were among the biggest education topics addressed by lawmakers during the 2019 legislative session, which ends Thursday.

Per-pupil funding got a 4 percent boost, plus another 40 million dollars for new growth.

We asked Gov. Gary Herbert how he felt education issues were handled. This was his response on Utah’s Morning News:

We talk about it every year, but education is our number one funding priority since I’ve been governor. I appreciate the fact that again there’s going to be a large amount of money,  300 million in new money toward education.

“It is the single largest issue in our budget, and it certainly has hour attention because we want to keep the education of our young people as a priority,” said House Education Committee Chair Lowry Snow, R-St. George.

Another $17 million will go toward counseling, not only for mental health but also to get students college and career ready.

School safety was a big topic in this legislative session.

“I think we had some good, comprehensive measures to help school safety,” Representative Susan Pulsipher, R-South Jordan, said live on Utah’s Morning News.

She is the vice-chair of the House Education Committee and explained more about the money going to school psychologists and mental health services as well as plus school threat assessments.

“There was also some money appropriated for the school itself, and to make it more safe,” she said.

“We had a lot of discussion both in committee and on the floor on providing mental health services and counseling to our young people,” said Snow.

Snow says they also tried to sort out end-of-year testing, and school grading, and trying to balance parental rights versus school accountability.

“As far as public education goes, I think it’s been a good session, notwithstanding some challenges at the end getting our budgets balanced,” said Snow.