School finance transparency bill advances
Education • Measure would put more spending data online.
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Lawmakers advanced a bill Friday that would allow Utahns to look up how much their schools spend online on specific programs, supplies and other expenses.

The Senate unanimously approved SB128 on second reading Friday, meaning it must be read one more time in the Senate before it moves to the House.

Bill sponsor Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, said the bill wouldn't ask schools or districts to collect any data beyond what they already do, but it would require them to share that data they already collect on the state's transparency website. The bill would cost $15,800 mainly for changes to the website and training.

"Think about the kinds of policy decisions that can be discussed, that can be debated, with full transparency of financial expenditures," Thatcher said.

Several other lawmakers also spoke in support of the measure Friday, though earlier in the week some education leaders questioned the price tag and usefulness of such a change.

State Superintendent Martell Menlove said earlier this week that if the state were to put information online for every school in Utah, rather than just for school districts, he believes it would cost far more than $15,800. He also wondered about the value of such data to the public, given its complexity. —