Mariah Checketts, a teacher at Green Canyon High School who teaches Spanish and Biology for the English as a Second Language class was recognized as Green Canyon’s Teacher of the Year for 2021. Photo courtesy of the Cache County School District.
NORTH LOGAN – On Monday, Utah Governor Spencer Cox ceremoniously signed five education-related bills (including the education budget for the upcoming fiscal year). Due to Utah’s stronger-than-anticipated economy during the pandemic, the new education budget added more than $400 million in new funding. It also included provisions which allowed for bonuses to be paid to teachers and other school employees in an effort to recognize the unique demands that were placed upon them while trying to teach during a pandemic.
Cache County School District Public Information Officer Tim Smith says the bonuses started to arrive after the legislative session concluded.
“We had to supply a list to the state of who qualified at the school level for these funds,” Smith explains. “They were very specific. The support staff received $1,000 each and the teachers received $1,500 a piece at the school level.”
Support staff is identified as school nutrition workers, custodians, maintenance personnel, and other non-teacher employees.
Most school districts throughout the state resumed some form of in-person learning when the new school year began in August 2020. Some started with hybrid learning with students alternating which days they would physically be in the schools. But the Cache County School District opted to begin with full, in-school learning for all of its schools though some students chose to continue at-home learning. The return to school required new hygiene, cleaning and learning protocols.
“I think our legislators wanted to tell our school staff thank you for a job well done under very difficult circumstances,” Smith adds.
He says those funds were identified even before the legislative session began, and educators took notice.
“(It was) very appreciated by teachers who have had an extra load on their plates all year.”
More than $6 billion was appropriated for education this year from state, federal and local funding sources, exceeding any other education budget in Utah’s history.