Utah Legislature passes administrator evaluation bill

Published: Tuesday, March 6 2012 1:23 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill Tuesday that would implement annual evaluations and performance-based pay for public school administrators.

Under SB64, future salary increases for administrators would be tied to the evaluations until 15 percent of their salary is performance-based. Teachers would also be evaluated annually and would be ranked on a 1-4 scale for use in remediation, salary increases and termination.

In February, the major stakeholders of Utah public education — including the State Office of Education, Utah Education Association and Utah Parent Teacher Association — voiced their support of the bill during a press conference that Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, called a "kumbayah moment."

Bill sponsor Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, spent numerous hours visiting classrooms and meeting with teachers, administrators and parents before drafting the bill. During the House debate on Tuesday, Rep. Carol Moss, D-Salt Lake City, praised Osmond for his efforts in listening to the feedback of Utah educators.

"That shouldn't be a novel idea, but it has been in many ways in this Legislature," she said. "Teachers are willing to have reform, they just want a voice at the table."

Rep. Keith Grover, R-Provo, who is a public school administrator with Alpine School District, said the bill was "outstanding legislation." During his comments he pointedly asked the bill's house sponsor, Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, whether SB64 is good policy for Utah's children.

Gibson responded that while some do, many Utah school districts do not conduct regular evaluations. He also said that by focusing on administrators first and teachers second, the bill better achieves the goal of a quality education for students.

"Everything starts at the top and goes down," he said.

The bill passed in the House 73-1 with Rep. John Dougall, R-American Fork, offering the only opposing vote. A minor amendment altering the language, but not function, of the bill was passed in the House requiring the bill to return to the Senate for final passage. The Senate voted 26-1 in favor of the amended bill.

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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