School bills before Legislature
January 27, 2007
Potentially many of the education bills introduced in the 2007 Utah legislature
could impact Park City. With only one week of one and one half months of legislating completed, it is hard to tell which bills will survive. Some of the many bills proposed that have early "buzz" among Park City residents are as follows:
Optional Extended-day Kindergarten. S.B. 49, Sponsored by Sen Lyle Hillard, R, Cache, Rich, provides a program through which school districts and charter schools may provide voluntary extended-day kindergarten, establishes program requirements and funding priorities. The bill appropriates $7.5 million from the Uniform School fund for fiscal year 2007-08 to the State Board of Education. Currently McPolin Elemenatry School is running a pilot program with an extended-day kindergarten.
School Impact Fees. H.B. 74, sponsored by Rep. S Mascaro, R, Dist. 47 would authorize school districts to impose an impact fee, subject to voter approval, and repeals a provision prohibiting school districts from imposing impact fees. Impact fees require builders to pay levies on new construction, which, in this case, would provide additional monies to the school districts to help fund facilities needed for the resulting new students. Opponents claim impact fees would raise the price of new homes making them unaffordable to many.
Education Vouchers. H.B. 148, sponsored by Rep. Stephen H. Urquhart, R, Dist. 75 creates a program to award scholarships to students to attend private schools. The bill specifies criteria for qualifying for a scholarship, specifies criteria for private schools to enroll scholarship students and requires the Legislature to annually appropriate money from the General Fund for scholarship payments. The bill allows for the school district to retain in enrollment a student who transfers to a private school for a period of five years, with a reduction equal to the average scholarship amount.
Cell Phone Restriction For Teen Drivers H.B. 217, sponsored by Rep. K. Holdaway, R, Dist. 34, is not considered an education bill, but could directly affect students. The bill prohibits persons under 18 from using a wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle. A person who violates the law would be guilty of an infraction. Upon receiving a record of conviction the driver license division is required to assess points against the person’s driving record. The enforcement of the proposed bill would be a secondary action, enforced only when the vehicle has been stopped for another suspected violation.
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Student Clubs Amendments. H.B. 236, Sponsored by Rep. Aaron Tilton, R-Springville, the bill provides requirements and procedures for the authorization of curricular and noncurricular clubs, and provides requirements in addition to existing state and federal laws for club membership, including parental consent. The bill allows for additional rulemaking authority by both the State Board of Education and local school governing boards. Central to discussion of the bill is the effect passage would have on gay student alliance clubs, and how added legislation may impact such clubs.