At least one state senator believes that school districts would do a better job "of educating" if other matters that occupy their time - like school lunch and bus programs - were removed to other divisions.
Sen. Lorin Pace, R-Salt Lake, has filed a bill that he hopes will put the focus of school boards back on education.SB42 would transfer responsibility for the school lunch program from school districts and the State Board of Education to the Department of Social Services.
"If you ever take time to go to a school board meeting," Pace said, "you will sit
through two-and-a-half to three hours and hear about education for about half an hour. The rest of the time is spent on lunches, transportation, buildings, etc."
Removing "topics that don't relate directly to education" would "get (school board members) focused on the things they are qualified and elected to do," he said.
Under SB42, a 13 percent tax on the sale of wine and distilled liquors would be deposited in a special school lunch account in the General Fund, to be used by the Department of Social Services to operate the program.
Pace said he didn't talk to anyone in Social Services before filing the bill and, in fact, the department first learned of the measure when the Deseret News asked about it. But the senator said he doesn't see any problem.
"I don't think that Social Services will do any better or worse with the program," he said, "and I don't think they (Social Services) will really care as long as they get the money to run the program."
Norman G. Angus, director of Social Services, disagreed.
"I do not believe that school lunches are appropriately a part of Social Service programs, even though they do provide nutritious meals for children including those who are in our programs. Taking over that (school lunch) program would dilute efforts that could be put into other programs that rely on the department."
Social Service staff members questioned the impact the bill would have on the department, with restructuring that would be necessary. And someone, they said, would have to administer the program.
Pace expected opposition from school districts, which he said would object to "losing part of their turf. There's resistance in government to any agency being made smaller than it is.
"All I want to do is get it out of the school districts, so they can focus their attention on the basics that students need to succeed in school."
Pace also filed a bill that would remove construction and maintenance of school buildings from school district oversight and transfer busing programs to another department.