The Utah legislature was relatively good to public education during its 2012 session. That word from Tami Pyfer, a member of the State Board of Education and candidate for re-election. On KVNU’s Crosstalk show Thursday, Pyfer said there was not a ton of money but there was more money available and the lawmakers were able to fund new growth, something they hadn’t done for the last three years. “They did fund the new 12,500 students that will be coming in to our schools this year,” Pyfer said. “They did give us an increase in the Weighted Pupil Unit, or the WPU. “People may have heard of a 1%, it’s actually more than 1% increase that the governor intended to be distributed for teacher salary increases.” Pyfer says this money goes to the local districts and many of those she has talked to say the money will be eaten up by higher insurance costs. Even so, she says the board appreciated the gesture along with some other legislative actions. Pyfer has been on the state board of education since Shelly Locke stepped down after only one year of her term three years ago. Now Pyfer has filed for re-election and this time it is for a two-year term. Pyfer says some state lawmakers have wanted to do away with the State Board of Education and it came up again during the 2012 session. She is opposed to that idea and one reason is that the governor has many other responsibilities. “You can do away with the state school board, move it under the office of the governor,” said Pyfer of some of the proposals at the legislature. “I think if you do that you remove this organization that really has only one goal in mind and that is a quality education for our students. “So you put it in the mix of all the other things the governor has to deal with and I’m not sure it would get the attention that it needs. It also removes this elected representation.” A person doesn’t fill a spot on the Utah Board of Education even after the votes have been counted. A committee reviews the candidates and the governor ultimately makes the appointment. Pyfer is running for re-election to a two-year term and she has two challengers: Alan Shakespear and Bryce Day, both from Box Elder County.
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