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A Utah lawmaker says he is not trying to erase the state Office of Education, despite sponsoring a bill that does exactly that.

Murray Republican Rep. Bruce Cutler said Monday his bill, HB147, would clean up more than 200 pages of Utah code by substituting the state Board of Education for every reference to the state office, an entity that was never formally established in state law.

"There is no such thing as the Utah State Office of Education," he said.

Cutler said he sponsored the bill at the request of school board members, who were concerned about divisions of authority for education governance.

Rather than give power to the office, as many laws currently do, his bill would specifically reference the state school board, which would then have the ability to delegate responsibilities to its employees at the State Office of Education.

"The board wants to take responsibility for what is their job and I applaud them for it," Cutler said.

Acting State Superintendent Sydnee Dickson said the bill would not eliminate any positions at the State Office of Education but instead codify current practices.

Past school board members would often defer to the opinions of state office staff, Dickson said, but the current board is proactive about guiding and directing rules and policies for public education in the state.

"Staff would tend to drive policy and have the board rubber stamp policy," she said of the traditional roles. "They are [now] directing policy as they should. That's their constitutional responsibility."

The bill was approved in a unanimous vote of the House Education Committee on Monday.

It will now advance to the full House for consideration.

Twitter: @bjaminwood