Education is always a hot topic in the Legislature and this year is no exception. Issues such as how to keep our students safe, how to best educate them with the funding provided, what and what not to teach them, class size…..the list is overwhelming. The education of our children is and should be high on the list of priorities. Here is a look at what’s shaking in Utah’s Education Legislation:
HB72 Utah School Seismic Hazard Inventory addresses the big safety issue – earthquake-proofing school buildings because it’s just a matter of time before the “Big One” hits. To that end, experts say a “to-do” list is imperative.
An informal survey four years ago found that 58 percent of about 800 school buildings were constructed before the modern seismic standards started being used in the mid-1970’s. With about 560,000 students in public and charter school buildings, assessing earthquake-worthiness and tackling a statewide to-do list is urgent, earthquake experts say.
“It’s critical,” said Roger Evans, chairman of the Utah Seismic Safety Commission, “because you can see what happened in Haiti and Chile can happen on the Wasatch Front someday when we have the Big One. It’s a real issue for all our school kids.”
The possibility that an earthquake could kill Utah schoolchildren has always been on the radar for commission members, but it became grimly real when members studied video of schools crumbling in the Sichuan Province earthquake of 2008.
The bill did not pass the House last week because some lawmakers are hesitant to spend the extra money, even though it has been pointed out that funds were used recently to upgrade the State Capitol Building to seismic standards.
Salt Lake Tribune Columnist Paul Rolley highlights the provision in HB355 Legal Guardianship Amendments which addresses a school’s rights to challenge a guardianship of students:
During a year when public schools face tens of millions of dollars in shortfalls, the Utah House of Representatives passed a bill that helps ensure out-of-state youth hockey players get a free education here at an estimated cost to Utah taxpayers of $500,000 to $1 million.
HB355, which would make it more difficult for a school district to challenge a legal guardianship in court, was sponsored by Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, whose son is a member of the Chadders Hockey Club, a main backer of the bill.
With the benign title of “Guardianship Amendments,” it moved stealthily through the House and now is in the Senate.
Read the rest of his post here.
Utah Moms Care, a blog dedicated to civil discourse on issues that affect Utah families, has a post on the Education Budget here, where they have this to say about HB166 Reductions to Education Mandates:
HB 166 Reduction to Education Mandates by Rep. Dougall is a mixed bag. The bill gives local school boards and charter schools more options to consider by making some education mandates optional for the next two years. For example, school districts will be exempt from administering the 10th grade basic skills competency test for the next 2 years. This is also the bill that pushes the busing boundaries out to 3 miles for a secondary school. That does not mean that if you live within the 3 mile radius that all bus service will be stopped, it only dictates that state money cannot be spent on routes within a 3 mile range – school districts will have to cover the cost of areas closer to the school.
The Utah Association of Public Charter Schools has posted a list of bills its members are supporting: