Governor Herbert signs education bills at Oquirrh Hills Middle School

Posted at 7:13 PM, Mar 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-29 21:14:05-04

RIVERTON, Utah – Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed his last pieces of legislation for the year surrounded by some of his youngest constituents as he paid a special visit to Oquirrh Hills Middle School in Riverton Wednesday.

Students gave Herbert quite the ovation when he walked into the home of the Eagles, showing their school spirit and pride in their latest STEM education invention, a robot.

It was the perfect backdrop for what the governor called a historical day. He wanted students to know lawmakers approved a major funding boost in education–more than $4.8 billion.

Lawmakers will pay for teacher licenses, and have been able to fund a 4 percent increase in WPU (weighted pupil unit) spending statewide. Local districts will decide how the money will be spent.

“A lot of it is going to go to salary increases for our teachers, some of it will go into technology,” Gov. Herbert said.

Students got a front-row seat as the governor signed the bills. One requires school districts to have anti-bullying and anti-hazing policies in place. Another gives school districts more control in how teachers are evaluated.

“Our goal of a billion dollars in public education over 5 years started two years ago is in fact within reach,” Herbert said.

Students were excited to host the governor and pleased he was going to help teachers.

“I never thought that I would have this opportunity,” said Claire Forest.

“I’m so happy for the teachers," Eve Barlow said. "They work so hard for us but then they don’t get the good pay in return."

Governor Herbert acknowledge more work in education needs to be done.

“I think teachers should feel encouraged. I don’t think we’re where we need to be. But we’re certainly going down the right road in the right direction.”

Herbert also offered some parting words to students.

You have to do your part. You have to engage. You have to be part of the system.

Another historical tidbit the governor shared with students today is that lawmakers passed a record number of bills this past session: 535.