The Granite District Board of Education has passed a resolution opting not to implement the provisions of a "school choice" bill enacted by the 1990 Legislature.
The new law would increase burdens for families, students and the district, board members said. They noted that rules and regulations already in place allow students some options in selecting the school they will attend.HB202 was adopted by the 1990 Legislature as a way to allow students to cross neighborhood and district boundaries to attend any school of their choice. The bill gives a "host" district the right to claim half of the resident district's expenditure over and above the weighted pupil unit.
Because some districts spend more than others over the state per-pupil expenditure, they could lose money by accepting students from a district with a lower local contribution. Districts with lower per-pupil expenditures could benefit financially from welcoming students from "richer" districts.
The Granite board said it will stick with laws that preceded HB202.
The existing law, Section 53A-2-203, gives the district full authority to permit attendance by non-resident students, to change attendance rules within the district and to charge non-resident students tuition up to the per capita costs of the program in which the student wishes to enroll, less the state compensation for the program.
Currently, more than 7,000 students in the district are attending schools outside their neighborhood boundaries, board members noted. The district offers special permits for those who want to attend another school. In addition, Granite provides education for many Jordan District students because it has schools with space, while Jordan is overcrowded.
Choice in schools is a national trend, but Utah has traditionally had more students crossing boundary lines even than those states that are viewed as leaders in the movement, Granite Board President Lynn Davidson said.
In Minnesota, where statewide choice has been heralded as the national example, approximately 5,000 students are attending schools outside those to which they would normally be assigned. Minnesota has almost twice as many children in school as does Utah, he said.
While Granite will not open its schools on a wide-scale basis to students from outside the district, "The board will continue to work with individual students, their families and other school districts under existing law to permit attendance as appropriate in schools other than the school of residence."