If he ever forgets why he believes charter schools will eventually divide Utah taxpayers, all Winston Gleave has to do is look in his pocket for loose change.
"It's written on the back of a nickel. `E Pluribus Unum,' make one out of many," he told the Murray School Board last week."We take all factions and put them into one educational system," Gleave explained at the Aug. 12 work session.
Gleave, executive director of the Utah School Boards Association, told the Murray board that charter schools have the potential to divide the education system, with both their unique structure of governance and the eventual limit on enrollment.
That's why the association filed suit Aug. 7 against the Utah State Board of Education over the charter schools issue, he said.
"The courts always say we should equalize opportunities for students," Gleave said.
"Will charter schools serve the severely handicapped students who are not being served by public schools?" Gleave asked. "Or the socially poor and minorities? Ask what the charter schools can do for them."
Gleave told the Murray board that the association is not trying to do away with charter schools - public schools that give students specialized instruction and generally have more parental involvement.
The association filed suit because its members do not agree with the governance the Legislature has given to charter schools, Gleave said.
In March, the Legislature passed a bill allowing up to eight pilot charter schools to form. The bill also provides for $500,000 in start-up funds and gives the state school board oversight of these schools.
Gleave and the association would like to see charter schools under the jurisdiction of local school boards.
In the suit, the association claims that state school board oversight is unconstitutional because its control over charter schools is more than the "general control and supervision" allowed by the state constitution.
"Utah hasn't supported public schools to the extent that it should have," Gleave said. "Now they are starting charter schools. There will be 50 (charter) schools formed the next time. Then watch what happens to your budget."
The association does not want power but wants equality in education, Gleave added. He said he did not want to see $7,000 per student being spent at a charter school and $3,500 per student at a nearby public school, especially when taxpayers who pay for charter schools cannot enroll their children there for lack of space.
The association's lawsuit is unfounded, said Doug Bates, state coordinator of school law and legislation for the Utah State Office of Education.
Bates said the state school board governs the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind and applied technology centers, which are physically located in local school district boundaries. Charter schools would be no different.
The Utah Code gives the state board "general control and supervision" over the state school system.
State law defines the public school system as "all public elementary and secondary schools and such other schools and programs as the Legislature shall designate."