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House Passes Bill to Swap Classroom Time for Teacher Development

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A bill that would allow schools to set aside regular classroom days for teacher professional development advanced in the Utah House of Representatives on Wednesday--but not without some contention.

Professional development days give teachers time out of the classroom to collaborate and train on new technologies, learning materials and curriculum. Prior to the recession, Utah spent roughly $70 million dollars on professional development but that money is no longer available. 

Senate Bill 103, sponsored by Republican Senator Aaron Osmond would allow districts to restore up to four professional development days in exchange for time in the classroom.

Representative Francis Gibson supports the bill. 

“Our teachers need the extra time to hone in and develop their skills and unless we’re ready to pony up to do it, we need to look for other opportunities for them to hone in.”

Democratic State Representative Patrice Arent voted against the bill. 

“Now, yes we need teacher preparation time. We need it desperately, but we need to pay for it. We need not to take it out of our student’s time. We need to add additional time. This is not the right approach.”

House co-sponsor Republican Representative Jim Bird says it won’t negatively impact student’s.

“We’re not taking a lot of time if the local school boards use this correctly at one day a quarter on a Friday out of a children’s time in a chair.”

The original bill called for up to eight days of professional development, but members of a house education committee voted to change that to four.

The bill passed the house on a 50 to 24 vote. It now goes to the Senate floor for consideration.  

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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