James R. Moss, Utah superintendent of public instruction, made members of the Public Education Appropriations Committee an offer he hopes they can't refuse. He agreed that if they'd give him $53,800, he would parlay it into five to 10 times that much.

The money is being requested by the State Office of Education to hire a director and pay other expenses for a public education foundation. The foundation, Moss said confidently, could raise much more money than the Legislature is being asked to contribute. The money would be used to create privately funded school programs throughout the state and foster business/school partnerships.Public education has not taken advantage of private money, as has higher education, Moss said. Foundations are proliferating across the country to meet financial needs of public education. Utah already has such a foundation, but there is no one in the State Office of Education with time to operate it, he told committee members.

The committee expressed considerable support for the idea.

The request will be considered as the public education budget is finalized over the next month and a half.