Most Utah School Districts Have Less State Funding in 2016 than in 2008

Most Utah School Districts Have Less State Funding in 2016 than in 2008

Occasional Paper – Vol: 6


Approximately two-thirds (2/3) of Utah School Districts have less state funding per student in 2016 than they did in 2008. As indicated in the chart below, only fourteen school districts have equaled or exceeded the per-student funding of 2008.

While many assert that Utah has one of the most robust economies in the nation, that prosperity has not resulted in better funding for the majority of public schools and school districts. Limitations on the basic school levy (property taxes), income tax cut and the use of State revenue for other projects and priorities have resulted in these lower per student expenditures.

7/8 Initiative for Education

7/8 Initiative for Education
Fact Sheet

The Initiative:

Education First is asking the Legislature to place a ballot question before voters in November 2016 asking if they would be willing to increase the income tax rate by 7/8 of one percent. This will generate approximately $518m per year and be directed to go directly to local schools. The money can then only be used for the following academic strategies known to move the dial in education:

  • Increasing access to early childhood education
  • Increasing student achievement in math and reading
  • Additional licensed counselors for college and career readiness
  • Maintaining or reducing classroom size
  • Improving technology and training for teachers
  • Assuring a qualified teacher is in every classroom

 These policy solutions are outlined in the, “Prosperity Through Education Plan.” The impact of implementing them together will be greater than implementing them as parts.

The Problem: Past tax changes have left an estimated $1 billion in education funding lost

In 2006 and 2007, Utah enacted a series of significant income and sales tax reductions that have had a profound impact on Utah’s public and higher education performance. These tax reductions are estimated to be $1 billion in lost annual revenue and have moved Utah’s funding effort to 33rd among states for education funding.

This reduction in funding is having a substantial impact on our student performance. Utah, once ranked among the top states for student performance, is now average in critical measurements such as ACT College readiness scores, high school graduation rates and post-secondary certification and college completion.

The Solution: Let voters decide to invest in education and restore part of past tax cuts

To meet the growing demand for improved educational performance, on both a national and international level, it is proposed that Utah voters be given the choice to increase their personal income tax by 7/8 of one percent. This voter-approved measure would generate an estimated $518.5 million annually for local targeted investments that will improve student performance.

The Support: Utahns support paying for targeted education investments
Recent Dan Jones polling shows that 70% of Utah residents would support a 1% increase in the state’s income tax, if the money is targeted for specific programs that improve public education.

The Schools: New money goes directly to public and charter school classrooms
The additional funding will be distributed to local schools as follows:

  • Elementary schools (Grades: PK to 6) receive 60 percent of the funding or $307 million. These funds will focus on early learning and critical skills in elementary school.
  • Junior high or middle schools (Grades: 7 to 9) receive 20 percent of the funding or $102.3 million for math and reading skills, STEM exploration and preparation for high school success.

High Schools (Grades: 10 through 12) receive 20 percent of the funding estimated to be $102.3.  Funds would be directed at college and career preparation, additional counselors (career coaches), and dropout prevention.

The Accountability: Funding must go to targeted strategies with proven outcomes in the classroom

Investing in education must be done strategically and with a clear plan for improving student performance. This money would be given to local schools (with district oversight and coordination) and can be used for specific, non-capital, academic strategies as previously stated. 

How to Act:
Go to to:

  • Add your name to a letter asking the Legislature to place this question on the ballot.
  • Easily contact your legislators and let them you favor this initiative
  • Sign up for Education First updates
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter





Utah Public Higher Education Expects Over 50,000 New Students by 2025

Utah Public Higher Education Expects Over 50,000 New Students by 2025
Occasional Paper – Vol: 4

Assuming just the current college participation rate, an additional 50,000 students will enter Utah’s public colleges and universities in the next 10 years. To put it in perspective, that is a few thousand more people than the current population of Logan, Utah.

As we work to make college accessible for all Utahns, including those populations who haven’t historically pursued a higher education, the number of additional students at these colleges and universities is expected to increase even more.


Enrollment growth at Utah’s public college and universities, 2000-2025

What will it take for higher education to accommodate 50,000+ more students?

  • Physical Space
    Ninety seven percent of these 50,000+ incoming students will choose to take the majority of their college classes on campus, only supplementing their on-campus schedule with one or two online classes. Utah’s college and university campuses will need to add more capital facilities in order to provide the physical space needed for these additional students.
  • Course sections and faculty
    In order to make sure students graduate in a timely manner, a sufficient number of course sections need to be provided, so students don’t hit a roadblock when they find courses are full. More faculty and course sections need to be added to ensure this does not happen.
  • Student support services
    Many students – especially first-generation, low-income or otherwise underserved students – need additional resources in order to navigate higher education and successfully graduate. In order to make higher education accessible for all students, we need to ensure they are guided throughout their college education by student support staff.
  • IT resources
    It is becoming increasingly important that campus IT departments have the proper infrastructure to maintain the security of higher education’s data, which includes sensitive student information.