Gov. Norm Bangerter praised educators Friday for cooperating with state government and said this past year has been a monumental one for education in Utah.
"I commend you for the very positive and realistic approach you have taken to the budget and legislative items," he said. "If we work together we can be second to none."The governor recognized an emerging sense of unity and cooperation in the educational community and said that relationships between his office and educational groups have never been better.
In remarks to members of the Utah School Board Association at its annual convention in Salt Lake City, Bangerter said, "I believe education in Utah is on the verge of many major breakthroughs."
Among the events of the past year that he called the groundwork for progress were salary increases for teachers, grants authorized for awards to the Governor's Schools of Excellence, funding and plans for the use of technology in education and the completion of the first phase of long-range strategic plans for education.
Increased enrollment in Utah schools will continue to strain class sizes despite projections that growth would level off during the next few years. The governor said that part of the reason for the increases is that out-migration from Utah has slowed as the state's economy has stabilized.
The additional 3,000 students over what was expected this year has necessitated revision of enrollment projections and prompted the governor to propose $4 million in his budget to be targeted at class size reduction, beginning with the first grade.
He said the money could reduce average class size in that grade by three students and said he will propose an additional $4 million each year for class size reduction in a sequential manner.