Education funding up, but not enough for teacher raises

Posted at 7:20 PM, Mar 01, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-02 11:23:11-05

The state's public schools will get more money than they did last year. But it will be only enough to keep teacher's retirement benefits going, leaving nothing extra for raises.

"We have funded more than the committees and more than the Governor requested, which was one percent. So we funded more than that for compensation issues in higher and public ed" said Utah House Speaker Rep. Rebecca Lockhart.

Lockhart says for public education, local districts decide whether there is an increase in teacher's salaries.

The WPU, the Weighted Pupil Unit, the amount the state provides per student, sees 1.16 percent more money in this legislative session's budget, but it is just enough to keep retirement benefits going.

"Teachers, for quite a while, for several years, have beared their share of the great recession and our teachers have been very appreciative for what they've been able to get in the last three years," said Utah Education Association President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh. "But we've also need to recognize that our teachers haven't had any sort of raises for three years -- very much similar to what the rest of society is experiencing."

The budget summaries briefing shows that education got more than any other programs. But the state's education need is so great that the funding increase is barely enough to sustain retirement benefits and nothing in terms of raises.