SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers “injected” record funding into education during the 2018 Legislature, which ended Thursday, and Gov. Gary Herbert said it was cause for educators to “clap” for joy.

But many in the education family were on pins and needles late Thursday night as the House of Representatives debated whether to eliminate the elected Utah State Board of Education.

After an intense floor debate over SJR16, which called for a constitutional amendment allowing Utah voters to decide whether to eliminate the board, the House voted 18-52 to defeat the proposal.

Under a substituted version of the resolution, the governor would appoint a state school board. The board would select a superintendent, which would require the OK of the governor and confirmation of the Senate.

Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, said the resolution was a historic opportunity to change the governance of public education.

“This would place responsibility squarely with the governor where most people think it rests,” Nelson said.

But Rep. Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, said a constitutional revision of this magnitude deserves an interim session for study “and more.”

If you the love the U.S. Department of Education, “do this,” Christensen says, referring to SJR16.

This is an “abdication of our constitutional duty,” he said.

The resolution was supported by Gov. Gary Herbert, who earlier in the week said that “the governor needs to have more ability to, in fact, shape public education policy. The governor is limited by the constitution in what we can do.”

But House members voted to stick with the nonpartisan elected school board, which was hotly debated but lost by a lopsided margin after passing the Senate by a 22-6 vote earlier in the week.

Otherwise, the just-concluded session of the Utah Legislature was a banner year for public schools, Herbert said.

“The teachers and education folks ought to be clapping their hands for …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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