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Ballot Initiative Moves Forward To Secure More Money For Utah Schools


Teacher salaries have been on the rise throughout northern Utah, including Park City where new teachers will now be paid over $50,000 a year. That’s the highest entry level teacher salary in the state. On top of this shift a new ballot initiative called Our Schools Now aims to get even more money into Utah’s schools.

Bob Marquadt, one of the organizers for Our Schools Now, says it’s encouraging to see teacher salaries increasing but not to forget that these changes have only impacted some of Utah’s schools.


Marquadt says Utah is now experiencing a big variance where some teachers are making $30,000 and others, like those teaching in Park City, are making as much as $20,000 more starting out. 


Our Schools Now would increase the flow of money to all schools statewide by raising both sales and income tax by 0.5 percent. This change would be phased in over three years, resulting in an additional $700 million annually.


Marquadt says some of that money could go toward decreasing that salary disparity but that even more could go toward teacher training and development, an area where districts have had to scale back significantly due to tax cuts.  


“Teachers are the most important thing in the success of our education system and it’s crazy that we’re not investing in teachers to make sure we have the best people possible," Marquadt says.


This past Tuesday Our Schools Now made the initiative official by filing paperwork at the Lieutenant Governor’s office.


Now, Marquadt and his colleagues have a busy summer ahead of them. Starting next month they'll hold seven public information meetings and by August they'll start gathering signatures. They need at least 113,000 from 26 of the 29 state senate districts to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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