AM News Brief: Education funds, Mountain West COVID hotspots & the death of a Hogle Zoo tiger
Thursday morning, Oct. 21, 2021
State program announces record funds for schools in 2022
The Permanent State School Fund is set to give a record amount of money to Utah public schools next year. State Treasurer Marlo M. Oaks announced Wednesday that $95.85 million will be distributed in July of 2022 — 3.2% increase over this year’s funds. It’s money that comes from investment earnings from Utah’s School LAND Trust Program. Among the agencies that contribute to the program is the state’s School and Institutional Trust Administration, which manages over 3 million acres of land dedicated to funding education. Money is given to schools each year based on the number of students, and the school’s community council decides how the money will be spent. — Elaine Clark
School transparency or bureaucratic hurdles?
The Utah Legislature’s Education Interim Committee created a working group Wednesday to set transparency standards for materials used in public schools. It comes in response to some parents’ concerns that teachers are trying to politicize their classrooms. Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, had proposed requiring schools to put all social studies materials online and prohibiting schools from compelling students to agree with certain points of view. Many schools already make that material available online to parents. Public education advocates also feared the proposal would add bureaucratic hurdles to an already stressful job and stoke suspicions that teachers are pushing a hidden agenda. Lawmakers opted instead to create the working group to further study the issue. Read the full story. — Jon Reed
Hogle Zoo tiger dies in old age
A tiger at Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City has died. Zoo officials said the Amur tiger named Cila was 18 and a half years old. The zoo said tigers who live in the wild have a life expectancy of approximately 10 to 15 years. Cila had been receiving geriatic care but had a rapid decline in her health. The tiger was born April 17, 2003 and was transferred to Salt Lake City from Indianapolis Zoo in 2015. The Amur tiger is also known as the Siberian tiger, and they occupy parts of Russia, China and possibly North Korea along the Amur River. They're considered to be a critically endangered species with an estimated 500-550 Amur tigers left in the wild.
Parts of the Mountain West have some of the nation’s highest rate of COVID-19 cases. Montana, Idaho and Wyoming combined are averaging about 2,600 new cases a day. That’s according to the Brown University School of Public Health. They're also averaging about 45 deaths and 12 hundred new hospitalizations daily. One public health officer in Yellowstone County in Montana told county commissioners this week that COVID-19 deaths in the state were outpacing highway fatalities. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau
Comparing Utah’s COVID numbers
Utah is faring better in the pandemic than some of its Mountain West neighbors, but its COVID-19 rates are still ranking relatively high nationwide. Over the last seven day average, the state ranks 12th in the U.S. in case rates according to Brown University. That’s well behind Montana, Idaho and Wyoming who rank second, third and fourth respectively. The Utah Department of Health reported just over 1,400 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, and 308 of those were in children 17 and younger. The state also reported 11 more deaths in Box Elder, Davis, Garfield, Washington and Salt Lake counties. — Elaine Clark