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Salt Lake School District teachers plan to walk out of class

Teachers carry placards as they walk a picket line outside South High School early Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Denver. The strike on Monday is the first for teachers in Colorado in 25 years after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

SALT LAKE CITY — Educators in the Salt Lake School District are planning a teacher walk out after sending a list of demands to the state legislature.  It includes increasing the student spending by $1,234 per pupil, which adds up to $900 million being added to the already $4.6 billion education budget.

The teacher walk out is scheduled for Feb. 28, where they plan to march out of their classrooms to reinforce their position on education funding, calling it a “March for Students.”

President Heidi Matthews of Utah Education Association (UEA) says the money is needed to address classroom size, teacher shortages and student health and safety, among other things.

But, Stuart Adams, President of the Utah State Senate says this is an unrealistic amount.  He says more than 50% of the budget already goes to public education, and Utah is always one of the top five states in education spending.

Matthews said “our teachers are leaving at alarming rates.”

“The Governor’s 10-Year Road Map and the Envision Utah Teacher’s Compensation report both put a price tag to what these investment will cost to reduce class sizes and address teacher shortage,” she said. “And while we’ve made progress with our starting salaries, but we need significant investments to really make the necessary changes.”

Utah already spends more than 50% of its budget on education, with the budget increasing from $3 billion to $4.6 billion in the last four years.

“We don’t have the money,” Adams said. “I’m concerned they’re asking for such an astronomical amount.  It’s seems unrealistic to me.”

Adams says not only is 100% of the State Income Tax dedicated to education, but “we’ve allowed property taxes to inflate along with several other things to try and fund education.”

He added it’s not realistic to compare the state’s per capita spending to other states “because we have the highest birthrate in the nation.”