The state school board asked, but the governor said no. And now, it is the law: Either the governor, the Legislature or both will be in control of whether Utah schools participate in federal programs such as No Child Left Behind that cost the state more than $100,000.
"I'm told the governor is making decisions based on constitutionality, so yes, from that perspective, it was a surprise," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Patti Harrington said. "(The board) feels there an erosion of their general supervision" of public education "and if the federal part of the education in the state of Utah is governed by the Legislature or the governor or legislative management committee ... it greatly concerns them."
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. signed SB162, sponsored by Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem. His spokeswoman last week said other state agencies live up to a similar requirement.
The State Board of Education asked Huntsman to veto the bill because members felt it could jeopardize money for important programs from school lunch to career and technical education.
The board's request infuriated Dayton and two other legislators as coming out of nowhere the board never took a position and therefore never lobbied either way on the bill during the 2008 Legislature, which ended March 5. The outcome appears to be at least a temporary setback for relationship-building between the State Board of Education and conservative legislators.
The governor signed the bill Monday, as well as other education bills, including SB48, aimed at spreading state school building aid to more school districts and also equalizing some of the property tax for Salt Lake County school districts.
The idea was to help the growing west side of Jordan District have enough money to build new schools following the district split, which took more than half the tax base but fewer than half the kids. But the $12 million combined loss to those other four school districts Murray, Salt Lake City, Granite and the now-forming Jordan-east district is likely to result in a bigger tax bill for people living in those areas.The governor has not yet taken action on SB2, the controversial $2.5 billion omnibus education bill.