Brittany Tichenor-Cox, mother of Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor, second from left, watches as Gov. Spencer Cox signs HB428, sponsored by Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, left, during a ceremonial signing of bills focused on educational issues at Hillcrest Junior High in Murray on Thursday. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)
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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed bills into law Thursday expanding all-day kindergarten and making period products free in schools, as well as several other education bills.
“One of our top priorities has been upgrading our state’s education system and prioritizing at-risk learners. Today we were thrilled to highlight 11 bills that help us achieve those goals and will improve education for all Utah students,” Cox tweeted.
After this year’s legislative session that ended March 5, Cox called education a “big winner” as lawmakers allocated $200 million for numerous programs — including a 6% increase to the weighted pupil unit — “which will be I think the highest ever,” Cox said at the time.
Overall, the state’s education budget grew by about 9%, including $12 million to expand optional all-day kindergarten and a bill that funds paid professional hours for teachers, “which is something they’ve wanted for a long time,” Cox has said.
During Thursday’s ceremonial bill signing at the Capitol, the governor approved:
- HB193, which brings $12.2 million funding to a grant program intended to increase the availability of all-day kindergarten.
- HB162 to require local school boards and charter schools to provide period products within all school facilities.
- HB386, creating an “innovation” program with $2.5 million funding in effort to improve learning outcomes in schools,
“Educators know best what works and what doesn’t work in the classroom, and this bill creates pathways for them to submit an alternative curriculum and class schedule for approval,” Cox said.
- $64 million to fund additional paid professional hours for teachers through HB396.
- SB127 seeks to improve early literacy outcomes by funding programs and putting assessment measures in place, among other measures.
“Early literacy is so important for our kids – it sets them up for success in school and in life. That’s why SB127, which amends, enhances and aligns strategies to improve early literacy outcomes in kindergarten through grade 3, is so crucial,” Cox said in the tweet.
- HB346 provides $300,000 in funding for foreign language education.
- To prevent harassment and discrimination in schools, HB428 requires the state school board to provide training addressing those issues.
“It’s so important that students feel safe at school,” the governor tweeted.
“Lovingly called ‘Izzy’s Bill,’ HB428 requires local education agencies to adopt plans for harassment-free and discrimination-free learning and to report data on the demographics of victims of bullying,” Cox said, referring to a 10-year-old student in the Davis School District who died by suicide late last year after her family said she suffered bullying.
- HB230 requires the state school board to create a “repository” of immigrant students’ and foreign exchange students’ transcripts.
- Under HB302, school districts will need to enact policies to help students learning English as a second language.
- HB30 allows students who are part of tribes to wear tribal regalia during high school graduation ceremonies.
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A lifelong Utahn, Ashley Imlay covers state politics and breaking news for KSL.com.