What's Current

Governor Herbert issues plea for former teachers to return to the classroom

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This month we held a press conference at the capitol with Governor Herbert, State Superintendent Syd Dickson, and 2017–18 Teacher of the Year Aaryn Birchell to issue a plea for former teachers to return to the classroom, and for students and professionals interested in changing careers to consider teaching.

Governor Herbert and Superintendent Dickson acknowledged that while progress has been made in the last year, there's still work to be done to make teaching a more attractive career – including increasing teacher compensation. As Ms. Birchell put it, "The working environment of a teacher becomes the learning environment of our kids."

That's why we've spent the last nine months working with our teacher initiative group to create and implement a four-part strategy to address the teacher shortage:

  1. Recruit students into Utah's academic teacher prep programs
  2. Retain great teachers
  3. Re-engage former educators
  4. Elevate the perception of the profession as a whole 


Speakers also highlighted returntoteaching.org, a website and survey that will provide districts and schools with contact and other information of teachers interested in returning to the profession. We've been thrilled with some stellar press coverage and over 1,000 responses to the survey.

See some of that coverage at the bottom of the page and stay tuned as we work find solutions to the Utah teacher shortage. And if you know any former teachers who might be interested in coming back, be sure to point them to returntoteaching.org!

2019 Your Utah, Your Future Awardees Announced

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On Thursday, May 23, Governor Gary Herbert will present the Your Utah, Your Future Awards to seven Utah-based projects and one individual for projects and developments that sustainably improve the quality of life in Utah and address some of the state’s toughest problems. Awards will go to projects focused on community design, transportation, water conservation, emissions reduction, disaster resilience, and education. The governor’s office organized the awards in partnership with Envision Utah and the Quality Growth Commission.

The awards are based on the Your Utah, Your Future Vision for 2050 — a plan to improve quality of life while accommodating future growth in Utah. More than 52,000 Utahns participated in the Envision Utah-led Your Utah, Your Future process, creating a vision to keep Utah a great place to live even as population grows. The awards mark progress towards that vision—the only statewide vision in the country—and recognize projects across four categories or “cornerstones” (see categories and winners below).

Dozens of projects and organizations were nominated for the Your Utah, Your Future Awards. Finalists were selected by the Envision Utah board of directors, and winners were selected by representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Quality Growth Commission and Envision Utah.

The following are Your Utah, Your Future Awards winners by category:

Cornerstone One: A Network of Quality Communities
West Valley City Fairbourne Station
Holladay Village Center

Cornerstone Two: Homes, Buildings, Landscaping and Cars of the Future
Mark Miller Toyota: Smog Rating Window Sticker
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Disaster Resilience

Cornerstone Three: A Thriving Rural Utah
Grand County High Density Housing Overlay Ordinance 

Cornerstone Four: People Prepared for the Future
Salt Lake City School District Peer Assistance Review Program 

Lifetime Achievement Award
Wilf Sommerkorn

Envision Utah's 2019 Spring Breakfast

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This year’s Spring Breakfast focused on one of the most important questions facing our state: What does it take to be truly ready for a major disaster? Click here for an event recap and photos!

New Orleans lost 30 percent of its jobs and half its population after Hurricane Katrina, and, more than a decade later, the city had still not fully recovered. Across the globe, economists speculated that it would take New Zealand 50 to 100 years to recover from a magnitude 6.3 earthquake that struck Christchurch. And after wildfires devastated entire towns in California, some residents asked local leaders if the towns would be rebuilt at all.

True disaster resilience is about more than 72-hour kits. It’s about whether or not our cities, our state, or our economy can function following massive devastation. If a major earthquake hit today, we’d be right to worry about roads, water lines, and power, but do we also know how many jobs would be lost immediately? Or how many families would be forced to leave the state entirely? Would we be back to pre-disaster levels ten years later?

See you at next year's Spring Breakfast!

Utah Inland Port Public Engagement Report Released

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Together with the Utah Inland Port Authority (UIPA), we just released our findings from several months of public engagement that occurred earlier this year! View the report here.

We joined the project in February as a public engagement consultant for the UIPA. Our process focused on engaging stakeholders and members of the public to hear different concerns, perspectives, and ideas related to the 16,000 acres in the Northwest Salt Lake County. We heard from a broad spectrum of stakeholders, met with hundreds of members of the public, and heard from over 3,000 Utahns in an online survey.

During our outreach, four key issues consistently rose to the surface:

  1. Air quality. Primarily as it relates to port operations and increased traffic.
  2. Potential impacts to wetlands, habitat, wildlife, and water quality in the Great Salt Lake ecosystem.
  3. Ongoing political conflicts. There is distrust among the public and stakeholders stemming from a perceived lack of transparency from the UIPA.
  4. Fossil fuels. Some members of the public see the UIPA as a potential funding mechanism for fossil fuels to be processed, stored, or handled in Salt Lake County, although there is little market demand for such activity.

We also did considerable research into baseline conditions in the area, including zoning authority, current development patterns and more.

Phase Two of the outreach process involved convening six working groups to help generate ideas for solutions to concerns we heard from the public. 

We'd like to thank everyone who participated and shared their voice! We believe that by working together, we can build a future that Utahns can enjoy for generations to come.

Envision Utah, state leaders release vision for teacher excellence

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The Governor's Education Excellence Commission recently adopted recommendations for higher, more effective teacher pay featured in a report released by an Envision Utah-facilitated task force made up of education, business and state leaders. Read a press release about the report below.

World-class education takes world-class teachers — and they need the right compensation

Governor’s Education Excellence Commission adopts recommendations for higher, more effective teacher pay

SALT LAKE CITY — A new analysis concludes that better teacher pay, on-the-job support, scholarships and other strategies are needed to recruit more Utah teachers, reduce teacher turnover and improve student outcomes in Utah. The analysis — led by Envision Utah and conducted by a task force of education, business and state leaders — was presented to the Governor’s Education Excellence Commission this morning, and aspects of the report were adopted into the commission’s proposed budget recommendations.

“If we want to be the strongest economy in the nation, we need to give our kids the best education possible — and Utah’s teachers are key to providing that kind of world-class education,” Governor Gary Herbert said regarding the report. “Teachers are deserving of our best efforts. In an already competitive job market, it’s critical that we know what it takes both to recruit and to retain exceptional teachers."

The report recommends a substantial salary increase for all teachers — enough that starting annual compensation would begin around $60,000 and grow to around $110,000 over the course of a teacher’s career. In addition, the report recommends that teachers experience stronger induction, have the opportunity to work more for more pay and have more opportunities for scholarships during their training. These steps, according to the report, would help stabilize the teaching profession in light of Utah’s teacher shortage — reducing turnover and attracting more people into the profession. Beyond stabilization, the report also recommends stronger career pathways, greater family engagement, effective class sizes, and more support professionals as strategies to optimize instruction.

“It has been clear from the very first conversations with our task force that this is not just about teacher pay or even the teacher shortage. It’s about our children and grandchildren” Robert Grow, CEO of Envision Utah, said. “We talked about what it would take for the next generation to have the knowledge and skills they need to thrive — not just in their own communities, but in a global economy. Until now, no one has ever done the hard work to authoritatively say ‘this is what teacher compensation needs to look like in Utah’s competitive employment market to get the teachers we need and the results the future demands.’ That’s what we set out to do.”

Envision Utah’s teacher compensation task force has been meeting regularly since spring to create this report, with preparations beginning long before then. Members of the group studied Utah’s teacher shortage, data on compensation, and a host of other information. Before deciding on the final recommendations, they created and examined several scenarios representing different changes to teacher compensation and other factors along with the projected costs and outcomes.

The full report, “A Vision for Teacher Excellence,” can be found at envisionutah.org.

Envision Utah is a nonprofit that brings Utahns together to address Utah’s biggest challenges including education, air quality, transportation, water resources, disaster resilience, and more. Utah is growing fast, but it’s how we grow that matters. We believe that when Utahns come together, learn together, and understand real choices and outcomes, we can ensure Utah remains healthy, beautiful, prosperous, and neighborly for future generations.