Feb. 6 Appropriations Synopsis

In the Feb. 6, Education Appropriation discussion, two requests for funding (from the Education Fund) stood out—both relate to charter schools: (1) Roberta Hardy director of Pinnacle Canyon Charter School, the second oldest charter in the state, asked for limited funds for Pinnacle Canyon Charter (a school of 517 students in Price, UT, 30% special ed kids) to transport students. She was not specific, but her request seemed aimed at needing newer and safer buses to transport the students. She was not speaking for all charter schools and was receptive to both USOE suggestions and Legislative suggestions to work directly with the USOE to see if there could be criteria for specific and qualified charters to receive SOME to-and-from transportation funding.

(2) Howard Headlee, vice-chair of the State Charter Board, appealed to the Committee for $250,000 for the State Charter Board, most of which would be for a “dedicated attorney from the Attorney General’s Office” to assist the Charter Board make its challenging policy decisions.  Currently, the Attorney General supplies one full-time attorney for K12 and is in the process of hiring another.  Neither of these attorneys bring in a gross compensation of more than $150,000 (including benefits).

The Committee said it would consider both requests. And encouraged both Ms. Hardy and Mr. Headlee to work with the State Board of Education.

Associate Superintendent Bruce Williams responded to Committee questions (and frequent taxpayer concerns) about school buses driving around the state “half-full.” Wouldn’t smaller vehicles be more economical? Mr. Williams likened the school situation to families in Utah: “We have big families in Utah.” There are lots of Suburbans and mini-vans. They drive around town and in communities and are seldom full. But both schools and parents with large families cannot afford to buy several size vehicles for their “families.” They choose one vehicle that can be used for multiple trips and purposes, though they may be uneconomical at times.

And that’s a wrap-up.  For now.

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