BOUNTIFUL -- The setting was appropriate for the announcement.
Gov. Gary R. Herbert announced his proposed budget for the next fiscal year on Monday at Bountiful High School in a financial literacy class.
In front of the 11th- and 12th-graders, Herbert spoke about the importance of funding education.
"As I look at you high school students, you are the future," he said. "What we, in government, are doing is in behalf of you."
Davis School District Communications Director Chris Williams stood behind all the television cameras during the presentation and enjoyed not only what the governor said, but also the way he announced his proposed budget.
"The governor could have unveiled his budget anywhere, so for him to come to Bountiful High School and unveil it there speaks volumes for his stance on education," Williams said.
Education, one of four cornerstones of the budget along with jobs, energy and Utah solutions, is a huge part of Herbert's $12.9 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Herbert reserved $111 million in new funds for public education, while $23 million will go to higher education.
According to the report, $40.6 million is targeted to help with the anticipated growth in the number of students.
"Like all other areas of state government, education funding has suffered as a result of dramatic drops in revenue," Herbert said in a letter attached to his budget.
"While we have succeeded in keeping education-related budget cuts to a minimum, Utah's schools have absorbed the cost of new students."
Absorbing those new-student costs year after year has been difficult for Utah schools.
"We had 1,700 additional students come into the school district last year," Williams said. "If that type of growth is not funded, it puts us further behind."
Weber School District spokesman Nate Taggart, who called Monday's announcement the best funding news Utah education has had in five years, said there are close to 100 more students in the district this year.
"We've just got a continual increasing number of students attending our schools, and if they don't accommodate for growth, we take a hit on that," Taggart said.
Ogden School District spokeswoman Donna Corby said the Ogden district has stayed pretty stable in its growth for the last few years because it is landlocked.
The budget calls for giving $12 million toward expanding individualized technology, as well as $10 million for early intervention and testing programs.
The money going to the early intervention programs would be available to help extended-day kindergarten.
"We have just seen tremendous test score growth for our students in extended-day kindergarten," Taggart said.
Corby said the early intervention programs should not just start when students arrive at the schools.
"We are very interested in what's going on with our kids before we get them and also what happens to them after they graduate," she said.
Money will also be available to help charter school startups and increase teacher salaries by 1 percent.
Herbert acknowledged that a 1 percent increase, which would come from the weighted pupil unit, is not much, but will be the first pay raise in four years.
The Utah Legislature will consider the budget in January.
Williams said, "We're encouraged by what the governor did, and we hope the Legislature will look at it and say this is the direction we need to go."