Invest in Public Education
The Emery County School Board met recently at Ferron Elementary. Principal Brian Dawes welcomed the board to the school. "Welcome to our school, we have a great school and staff here at Ferron. Everyone appreciates so much everything the board has done for us.
"As you know, last year Ferron did not make AYP. We took that as a challenge and made a plan to achieve AYP this year. I am pleased to report that Ferron Elementary has met, and in most cases exceeded the benchmarks set by the State of Utah. Everyone has worked extremely hard to insure that the students understood the requirements of the testing, and we nearly doubled the percentage of our special needs students. Each year, the state increases the acceptable level by 6 percent. We not only met that increase, but we exceeded it.
"In our main hall, we have added a patriotic gallery. Artwork, pictures of the founding fathers and historic events, along with copies of many of the UniteS States' important documents are on display. This is a child friendly display and has been a great aid for the teachers on Constitution Day here at Ferron Elementary. This gallery was a project completed by our PTO.
"The enrollment this year is 225 with two full time kindergarten classes, each with 20 students and three sessions of pre-school. One area of emphasis here at the school is to develop a tier 2 level of instruction. This provides specific intervention for the special education SOAR program. This will improve reading comprehension," said Dawes.
Carol Ediger and Jon Crawford showed a power point presentation which was prepared by the Utah Education Association and explained the UEAs stance concerning funding of public education. This presentation, entitled No Excuses-Invest in Public Schools, is a campaign to encourage the Utah legislature to make a greater investment in public schools. This same presentation will be made at all the city council meetings in the county, and has also been shown to the Emery County Economic Development Council.
Neal Peacock introduced the power point by saying, "We are not talking about increasing or decreasing taxes, we are talking about an investment. Every Utah taxpayer deserves the best return on their investment.
"The Utah legislature is talking about a surplus, if that surplus was applied to eliminate the corporate income tax, that would create 2,200 new jobs. If that same surplus was spent on education, 5,900 new jobs would be created. Lower taxes do not guarantee a growing state. Investing in schools grows the economy more than investing in industry.
"By investing in schools, we mean an investment in every community in Utah. Public education provides a wealth of job opportunities and real estate values are higher around a thriving public school. Education reduces the gap between the rich and the poor, and public schools make no profit. Our goal here is to convince Utah's legislators that investing in school is smarter than giving tax breaks to out-of-state businesses.
"We have very successful public schools in Utah. Our students' SAT scores are higher now than they have been in 30 years. If you take out the private schools and home schooled students from the average, that average raises. Utah ranks in the top six in the US for the percentage of high school graduates.
"In Utah, an average of $95 million worth of volunteer hours are put in at the public schools, That means there are a great number of parents who care enough to spend their time helping in our schools. Another thing to consider, for those who think administrative costs are too high, Utah ranks 51st among the states for the amount spent on administration. We are highest in the class sizes, lowest on per pupil spending, and we spent the smallest percentage of tax dollars on education," said Peacock.
Peacock went on to say, "During a recent poll, citizens stated their wishes for the public school system. The wishes were: lower class sizes; quality teachers; adequate resources; and better pre-school and kindergarten programs. Our policy makers in Utah begin programs and provide no means of funding the program, and enact laws that decrease funding for educational programs, and then on top of that they are considering funding private schools. We need a long term commitment to schools and teachers so they will make a long term commitment to the students.
"How can we make our voice be heard? I feel the number of people involved trumps the number of dollars. Let the legislators know how you feel. Join GREAT (Grass Roots Education Action Team), and tell the legislators that there are no excuses, not for teachers, not for students, not for administrators, and not for legislators, not to have the best for our public schools. We need to get the legislators back to the same place as the people of Utah," finished Peacock.
The school board approved to hire Misti Sweeten as the special needs educational assistant at Green River High School, and Joan Brinkerhoff as a bus driver. They also approved for Valinda Roush to attend a conference in San Antonio, Texas in February, 2006. Also approved was the meeting schedule for the 2006 year. The next school board meeting is Jan. 4, 2006 at San Rafael Junior High School.