With the Utah State Legislature scheduled to end on March 14, 2013, I would like to discuss a few bills that could impact Garfield County School District. The first bill is HB 255 Classified School Employees by Representative Brad Last of Hurricane, UT. This bill would allow the districts to employ a para educator hired after July 1, 2013 to work over 19.75 hours without the requirement of the district to pay into the Utah Retirement System (URS). Prior to this bill, a district would be required to pay into the URS for all employees who worked an average of 20 hours per week or more. The SB 71 bill relates to finances for early childhood education by Senator Aaron Osmond. This bill would appropriate $1,000,000 from the general fund and would set forth requirements for a highly qualified preschool intervention program based on student performance outcomes. If both HB 255 and SB 71 passed, it could benefit Garfield School District financially. SB 81 also by Senator Aaron Osmond has been a controversial bill in the educational community. This bill would be the first step in capital equalization. The bill allows local boards to restore the amount of revenue generated by the local board or local capital levy through a truth and taxation hearing. In order for districts to be revenue neutral, they may need to hold a truth and taxation hearing. With the numbers I have been provided on SB 81, it could create a possible loss of ($10,489) in Garfield School District per year. You may also hear discussions relating to funding “student enrollment growth”. The numbers I have seen associated with funding growth in the state are about $68,500,000, but in order to access this money we must have growth in the number of students in the district. Garfield School District has very little growth so we typically don’t see additional money in this category. The majority of the student growth money will end up on the Wasatch front. It is always interesting to me how many new bills are considered or passed by the legislature each year relating to education. As of today (3-1-13) the Joint Legislative Committee has taken positions on 69 bills relating to public education with an expectation of seeing at least 10 more bills before the legislature ends on March 14th. It seems like education will continue to see changes in laws, regulations, and funding with each legislative session.
–Superintendent Ben Dalton