The Great Recession made the heady days of million-dollar state revenue surpluses seem a long time ago in a place far, far away. But here we are in Utah in 2013 with $242 million more than anticipated in the state's education fund.
While state law requires that half the surplus be squirreled away in the Rainy Day Fund, $120 million should be enough to do some good for schools, particularly those recently given F or D grades in the Legislature's new grading system. Such schools must be struggling, if the grading criteria work as promised to identify schools that need help.
The "extra" money is considered a "one-time" surplus and must be spent on programs, equipment or other capital expenditures that are not on-going. Sadly, it cannot be used to bolster wages for teachers who volunteer to work in at-risk schools, but with some good analysis and input from educators, legislators should be able to put the money where it can have long-term positive effects.