PCSD officials, USBE speak out against Utah school ‘voucher’ bill passed in Senate

SALT LAKE CITY — Park City School District officials have spoken out in opposition to a school voucher bill that passed in the Utah Senate.

H.B. 215, sponsored by Rep. Candice Pierucci, R-Salt Lake, passed by a 20-8 vote and would use public funds to create the Utah Fits All Scholarship Program, which would provide up to $8,000 in scholarships per student for private school tuition and fees, as well as specific services such as tutoring, instructional materials, and assessment preparation.

The bill would also increase Utah teacher salaries up to $6,000.

H.B. 215 has had heavy opposition, with the Utah School Boards Association, the Utah School Superintendents Association, the Utah Association of School Business Officials, the Utah Education Association, the Utah School Employees Association, and the Utah Parent Teacher Organization all coming out against the bill.

On Monday, January 23, Park City School District Board Member Meredith Reed spoke to the Utah Senate Education Committee, stating that she believes the bill lacks “accountability, oversight, or standards for how public money is spent.”

“This bill is opposed by every professional education association in our state,” Reed said. “Public dollars are intended for public education.”

Also, on Monday, the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) released a statement announcing the board’s vote to oppose H.B. 215.

“The board voted 10-5 to oppose the bill as currently written,” said USBE in a statement. “Some of the issues raised by board members include a lack of student data privacy, questions about program oversight, and the process of drafting and debating the bill. Many board members also recognized frustration from educators and schools for not separating educator salary increases from the scholarship program.”

USBE also expressed its desire to partner with the legislature to “provide insight on how the bill may be improved.”

The full Senate will vote on H.B. 215 once more later this week before it goes to Gov. Spencer Cox for final approval.

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