The state has long given schools money to educate kids but imagine if that tradition were reversed and the state instead gave kids money to spend at the schools of their choosing.
It's something that at least one lawmaker would like to see become a reality in grades 9-12. The House Education committee is scheduled to discuss Rep. John Dougall's HB123 at 8 a.m. on Wednesday in room 445 of the Capitol.
Dougall's bill would require the state to put much of the money it now sends to high schools into "education savings accounts" for students in grades 9-12, Dougall, R-American Fork, told state school board members during a recent meeting. Students could choose to spend that money to attend public schools, including charter schools; attend public school online classes; and/or pay for courses offered by public and certain private, nonprofit Utah colleges. If students had money left in their accounts after high school, they could use it for college.
Dougall said schools would still receive money for special education and certain other expenses, as some students cost more to educate than others. He said his proposal "allows the money to follow the child." He also said it could combat 12th grade apathy once families start to see the money spent on schools as their own.
State school board members and officials had a number of questions and concerns last week, such as how schools would deal with truant students and different graduation requirements between districts. Dougall also was asked if he'd consider allowing lawmakers to study the issue after the session rather than running a bill now.
Dougall said, "I would contend I need to move it further through the process because that informs the dialogue."
The state school board has not yet taken a position on the bill. The Utah School Boards Association, Utah School Superintendents Association and Utah PTA oppose the bill, according to the State Office of Education. The Utah Education Association also opposes the bill.