SALT LAKE CITY — The House Education Committee voted unanimously Thursday to hold HB273, a bill that would have prohibited instructional fees in Utah secondary schools.
The bill was held at the request of its sponsor, Rep. Adam Robertson, R-Provo.
Robertson asked the committee to hold the bill after educator, school board, school administrator and charter school representatives urged a slower approach.
"The feeling we're having is, let's not be hasty," said Terry Shoemaker, who represents the state's school boards and public school district superintendents.
Royce Van Tassell, executive director of Utah Association of Public Charter Schools, said there have been ongoing conversations about what Utahns should expect from their schools and the impacts of the loss of revenue if schools cannot charge instructional fees.
"It may be premature to pull the Band-Aid off completely," Van Tassell said.
Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights, said she was more comfortable with the approach of HB250 because it leaves decision-making to local entities and the State School Board. HB250 is before the Utah House of Representatives.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Syracuse, is "mainly a compliance and definitional bill," Robertson said, noting his bill would eliminate instructional fees.
Robertson said his goal in sponsoring HB273 was to return to original intent of the Utah Constitution, which says elementary and secondary education should be free, although it was later amended to allow secondary schools to charge fees.2 comments on this story
"In the past decade, school fees crept up and really got out of control," Robertson said.
Recent audits estimate Utah public schools charge an estimated $71 million a year in school fees, although legislative auditors have said they believe the figure was "significantly understated."
There is a need for ongoing conversation about what Utahns expect from their public education system, Robertson said.
"I do still feel very strongly we owe our students a free education and we still need to get there," he said.