The House Education Committee unanimously passed HB 477 (Full-day Kindergarten Amendments) on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The bill sponsored by Rep. Robert Spendlove (R-Sandy) expands full-day kindergarten to every school district while also requiring districts provide a half-day kindergarten option for families. UEA Director Sara Jones testified in support of the bill stating that full-day kindergarten has been a UEA budget priority for several years.
During the Senate Education Committee Tuesday morning, the following bills all passed out of committee:
H.B. 185 Public Education Enrollment Options Amendments – Sen. Susan Pulsipher (R-South Jordan)
This bill allows a local education agency to provide a home-centered, school-supported enrollment option allowing students to complete a portion of the students’ course work from home. Bill passed out of committee unanimously.
S.B. 257 State Board of Education Amendments – Sen. Keith Grover (R-Provo)
This bill requires the state board to require local education agencies (LEAs) to issue high school diplomas to students who receive an associate’s degree with certain minimum credit hours earned and receive an industry certificate with certain minimum classroom hours. It exempts schools with an assessment opt-out rate exceeding 50% from the school accountability system and requires the state board to publish on the state board’s website the recorded vote of a school district voting body showing support for or against a school’s annual plan. Finally, it amends a provision regarding background checks for private school employees.
The State Board of Education spoke to the bill saying that they needed time to respond to everything in the bill and wanted the committee to move the bill to interim study. The bill passed out 4-1.
H.B. 189 International Baccalaureate Program Amendments – Rep. Carol Moss (D-Salt Lake City)
This bill removes language limiting the state board’s allocation of funds toward the International Baccalaureate program to align with other early college programs. It passed out unanimously.
H.B. 234 University Recognition for International Baccalaureate Achievement – Rep. Carol Moss (D-Salt Lake City)
This bill amends the Utah Board of Higher Education’s (board) requirement for acceptance of credit for prior learning requires institutions to award credit for International Baccalaureate Programme subject scores under certain circumstances requires the board to consult with the Utah Association of IB World Schools and school International Baccalaureate program coordinators to develop policies regarding standards for awarding International Baccalaureate Programme credits. The bill passed out 5-4.
H.B. 195 Criminal Investigations of School Employees – Rep. Kera Birkeland (R-Morgan)
This bill requires paid administrative leave for a school employee who is the subject of a criminal investigation and if the criminal investigation substantiates wrongdoing, requires the local school board to take further employment action and the employee to pay back all salary compensation that the employee received.
Both UEA Policy and Research Director Jay Blain and USBA’s Linda Hanks spoke against the bill, saying that local boards should have the ability to work on these issues with their general counsels. Regardless, the bill passed out 3-1.
H.B. 249 Education Related Amendments – Rep. Karen Peterson (R-Clinton)
This bill addresses a parent’s access to the submission of education records and directs the state board to create record-tracking interoperability for education records in the information management system under certain circumstances. It also requires the state board to create a parent portal that provides the information outlined in statute, including school comparison information. In addition, it requires notification of the parent portal and provides for the appointment of a parent engagement specialist, including providing for the specialist’s duties. The bill passed unanimously.
S.B. 258 Upstart Program Amendments – Sen. Michael McKell (R-Spanish Fork)
This bill moves the UPSTART program into the Economic Opportunity Act, under the GO Utah office and prohibits a standard or criteria in a request for proposal for a home-based technology program for the UPSTART program. It requires the GO Utah office to use procurement processes to contract with certain providers and amends criteria for evaluating home-based technology program providers. It also expands program participation to:
- all Utah preschool children;
- residential certificate preschool providers; and
- the Head Start program;
It amends standards and requirements for home-based educational technology providers and requires school boards to make the program accessible for schools seeking to participate. It requires a contractor to enter into a contract with a school board or preschool to implement the program and it requires the GO Utah office to determine costs associated with the program, including:
- implementing campaigns and referrals to solicit families to participate in the
- technology costs;
Finally, it amends audit reporting requirements. The bill passed out 3-2, with Sen. Hinkins and Sen. Riebe voting no.