Education measures now laws

The guv signs over 20 bills, including one that aims to spread funding for school construction around S.L. County
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Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. signed more than 20 education bills into law Monday, including SB48, a bill that aims to spread funding for school construction - and the property tax burden of paying for school construction - around Salt Lake County.

All Salt Lake County districts will have to pool part of their property tax revenue, which then will be redistributed based on enrollment and enrollment growth. The district formed from Jordan School District's west side stands to gain $12 million, but Murray, Salt Lake City, Jordan-east and Granite school districts will lose millions and likely have to raise their property taxes to make up the difference. The idea is to better equalize school construction funding and property taxes throughout the county, especially in light of voters' decision to split the Jordan School District.

SB48 will also, however, distribute an additional $15 million in income tax revenue to school districts statewide in an attempt to help them pay for school construction. Every school district, except Park City School District, will get at least $50,000 for one year.

The governor also signed SB281, which will put, for one year, $5 million toward $1,000 signing bonuses for new teachers and $20 million toward performance pay for teachers. School districts must submit pay for performance plans to the State Board of Education for approval.

Some of the other education bills Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. signed into law include:

* SB41: It will put $750,000 toward expanding language programs teaching Chinese, Arabic and Russian and create pilot elementary school dual immersion programs in Chinese, Spanish, French and Navajo.

* SB162: It will require the governor and/or Legislature to approve entering into federal education agreements that cost the state certain amounts of money. Huntsman signed this bill despite a recommendation from the Utah State Board of Education to veto it.

* HB286: It requires the State Board of Education to permanently revoke the teaching licenses of teachers who have sexual contact with students.

* HB325: It requires school districts to form policies that include definitions of bullying and hazing and consequences for those actions.

* HB330: It will provide $100,000 to expand the Head Start program to more children from low-income families.