Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
Alex Cabrero ReportingLaellie Brady: "Oh, it's the future. It's about the future. If we don't spend money on education today, we lose the future."
State legislators listened and today they spent big on the future, half a billion dollars, much of it going to teacher raises. Teachers are appreciative for what they've been given, but still, many say it's not enough, that there are a lot of other issues that need to be addressed.
All the teachers we spoke with are happy about the new plan. They'll each get a $2,500 raise and a one time bonus of $1,000. Still, though, they'd like to see the state spend more money on education, especially when it comes to how many students are in a classroom.
Robin Frodge has been a teacher all her life and is now President of the Jordan Education Association, but she's never seen a day like this.
Robin Frodge, Jordan Education Association: "It's high time that Utah teachers feel fully supported."
It certainly is a good day for teachers. Utah state legislators voted to spend a record amount of money for public education. This year's big surplus allows them to do so.
Rep. Greg Curtis, (R) Speaker of the House: "We have said for years we believe we have a commitment to public education and we believe we've shown that. This year the total increase will be 34-percent."
The weighted pupil unit goes to about four-percent and teachers will get a $2,500 raise and a one time $1,000 bonus.
Laellie Brady: "I think the pay raise for teachers is fabulous."
Laellie Brady is a teacher at Northwest Middle School in Salt Lake City. She likes that teachers are getting something, but she, like so many others, feels more is needed.
Laellie Brady, Northwest Middle School: "I think there are a lot of issues, and I think class size is an issue for a lot of teachers, and I think money for immigrant and refugee children is a really important issue."
With as fast as Utah is growing, class size continues to be a big issue.
Robin Frodge: "Utah teachers have the highest class size in the country, the lowest per pupil expenditure in the country, and we're paid in the bottom third."
Brenda Bates, Northwest Middle School: "It would be nice to be competitive with some of the other states that are near us. I think this puts us a little closer to it."
Closer, yes, but teachers still think there's room for the state to improve education.
Robin Frodge: "We would still hope that they could find more money to increase our WPU."
That weighted pupil unit seems to be the big issue for teachers in Utah, especially considering class sizes here in the state. Teachers are thankful, though, that the legislature is thinking of them. They agree it's an impressive package, but a package that could've gone further.