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Utah State Board of Education votes against supporting school voucher bill

Posted at 11:35 AM, Jan 23, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Board of Education voted Monday against supporting a bill making its way through the legislature that would raise teachers salaries, but also create a school voucher program providing public funds for students to attend private schools.

In a 10-5 vote, the board announced its opposition to House Bill 215, which would give $8,000 scholarships to students as part of the "Utah Fits All Scholarship" program. The money could be used for services such as private schooling, homeschooling and tutoring.

By a 54-20 vote Friday, the Utah House passed the bill sponsored by Rep. Candice Pierucci (R-Herriman) and will cost taxpayers $42 million. A Senate committee will discuss the bill today before voting on whether to advance it to the full Senate.

"Some of the issues raised by board members include a lack of student data privacy, questions about program oversight, and the process of drafting and debating the bill," the board said in a statement. "Many members of the board also recognized frustration from educators and schools for not separating educator salary increases from the scholarship program."

While providing teachers with a $6,000 raise, the Utah Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, has also opposed the bill.