Kathie Bone, a first-grade teacher at Morgan Elementary, Kaysville, took the reins of the Davis Education Association for the upcoming year with a pledge to work for better teacher morale.
Bone succeeds Beth Beck, who recently was elected vice president of the Utah Education Association. Brian Ferguson, a teacher at South Davis Junior High, is the new vice president.The association represents about 1,400 of the more than 1,700 teachers in Davis School District.
"As educators continue to internalize the social and financial disrespect of the public, there is a very real tendency for the quality of teaching to go down," Bone said. "Certainly class size, supplies and textbooks are important to student progress, but the teacher is the most critical element to student learning in any classroom."
To prevent a major deterioration in the quality of education in Davis County, Bone said she sees the need for a number of attitude changes.
"The public has to show teachers the respect and support they deserve," she said. "The constant teacher-bashing we have been experiencing must stop. In addition, the public has to understand that the future of our state is literally at risk.
"Quality schools are the key to attracting the economic growth we so desperately need both to bring jobs to Utah and to provide jobs for our next generation," Bone said. "If we do not make the commitment now, we face a bleak future that will see our children, Utah's greatest resource, leaving the state in substantial numbers."
Bone said the keys to reversing that trend are placing sufficient financial resources in the schools to reward teachers for their work and skill; lowering class sizes; providing adequate classroom materials; giving teachers the power to make more classroom decisions.
Association officials have warned recently that teachers are considering some kind of job action this fall if a cost-of-living raise is not forthcoming as a result of contract negotiations. However, the Davis Board of Education recently adopted its budget for the coming school year and it contains no provision for increased teacher pay. In fact, it calls for a modest increase in average class size as one means of meeting the impact of new growth while living with state funding that is essentially unchanged from the current year's level.
Negotiations are suspended as teachers and district officials await the outcome of a special legislative session July 5.
At that session, legislators will decide what to do with a revenue surplus of more than $100 million. Gov. Norm Bangerter has recommended using about $20 million to restore some education funding, with the remainder to be rebated to Utah taxpayers.
Educators have suggested using a substantial portion of the money to provide a 3 percent cost-of-living raise for teachers, along with restoration of spending for textbooks and reductions in class size.
Serving with Bone will be executive board members Bryon Nielsen of Bountiful Junior High and Charles Garritson of Syracuse Elementary. Continuing board members are Roger Heslop of Antelope Elementary in Clearfield and Marjorie Funk, who works in the district's diagnostic center at Monte Vista School in Farmington.