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Thousands rally at capitol in support of more education funding

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Posted at 6:29 PM, Mar 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-09 23:17:39-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Thousands of teachers, parents and students rallied at the Utah State Capitol Monday demanding an increase in funding for public education.

Teachers say they want what they were promised, a 6.25 percent increase in the weighted pupil unit.

The WPU is the basic formula for public education funding. Republicans revealed their outline for the budget last week. It includes more than $435 million for public schools and gives a 4 percent increase in the WPU.

Teachers argue that’s not enough to make up for years of neglect.

“I’ve watched our efforts of funding for our children and our teachers over the last 20 years, and it’s time that we stood up,” said Utah Education Association president Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “It’s time that we called for adequate resources to fund our children and our schools.”

Fourth-grade teacher Julie Downs said she’s been teaching for more than 30 years, and said the low funding is driving many teachers into early retirement, which creates another problem, new teachers are entering the workforce having to make up for those shortfalls.

“The problems are getting harder, the expectations are getting higher, the parents, the accountability is almost nil, and it’s all on the shoulders of the teachers,” Downs said.

The proposed budget has already passed the Senate, and will head to the House for consideration.

Tami Pyfer, the governor’s education advisor, was in studio to talk about what Herbert’s plan entails.

Watch the interview in the video below.