Eight Grand County School District educators attended the Educator’s Day on the Hill in Salt Lake City on Feb. 22. Pictured, from left to right, are BreAnn Brewer, Chase Clyde, Libby Bailey, Robyn Johnson, Sen. David Hinkins, Katelyn Finley, Bryce Rogers, Kari Barnard and Abbey Martinez. [Photo courtesy of Libby Bailey]

Eight educators from Grand County School District attended the Educator’s Day on the Hill in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 22.

Teachers from the Grand County High School, Grand County Middle School and Helen M. Knight Elementary, supported by the Grand Education Association (GEA) and Utah Education Association (UEA), traveled to meet with lawmakers to discuss priorities to support students and schools during the 2019 Utah legislative session.

All eight educators met with Sen. David Hinkins, Rep. Christine Watkins and Rep. Carl Albrecht to express their concerns over education bills that are being presented to the Utah Legislature this year.

The group’s main priorities were to focus on appropriation of funding and address four major areas of individualized student attention, addressing the teacher shortage, student equity amd student health and safety.  

The Utah Education Association suggests that these measures can be implemented by increasing the funding of the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) by 6.5 percent, and allowing each Utah school district to allocate the monies to fit the unique needs of each district. The group of Grand County teachers and GEA members spoke in support of these initiatives (Senate Bill 149, the Teacher and Student Success Act) and emphasized that an increase in WPU would allow local school districts maximum flexibility in addressing local needs.  

In addition to attending the Educator’s Day on the Hill, these teachers are involved in a leadership program sponsored by the National Education Association.

The Early Leadership Institute program is intended for teachers who are thirty five and under and are in the first three years of their teaching career. The group, along with a coach and local association leaders, is working to develop projects to address the obstacles of young educators and why they may leave the profession.

According to a study released by the Utah Education Policy Center (UPEC) in collaboration with the Utah State Board of Education, a study that examined retention rates in Utah found that 56 percent of teachers who began in the profession in 2007-08 were no longer teaching by 2014-15 school year.

The Early Leadership Institute program of Grand County educators is working toward identifying and offering solutions to why teachers in Grand County may follow the state trend. It is a year long project that works with teachers, community members, district administration, and school board in order to find solutions and improve Grand County’s teacher retention through systematic programming.

Eight educators meet lawmakers in Salt Lake City