SALT LAKE CITY — The Senate Education Committee voted 4-1 Friday to endorse SB245, which would require school districts or charter boards to give students' parents at least 120 days notice before closing a school or changing school boundaries.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, was introduced in response to the Granite School Board's vote to close Oquirrh Hills Elementary School in Kearns less than a month after district officials informed the school community of the plan. The board conducted a public hearing before taking the vote to close the school.
The legislation also would require school boards to hear public comment on a proposed school closure or boundary change during "at least two public local school board meetings."
Under SB245, the notice would also apply to surrounding schools that would be affected by boundary changes resulting from a school closure. In addition, school districts and charter school administrators would need to give the area's governing council and mayor notice.
"There are no specific deadlines or timetables in statute specific to informing a school community or citizens about the final determination or plans of a failed school. So what happens is, there's no clarity at the end," Mayne said.
Kearns Metro Township Mayor Kelly Bush spoke in support of the bill.
"What I'm hoping is that this language will do is that it helps prevent what happened in my community, that it opens up the communications and that it helps the community become involved from the very beginning of the process when there is a boundary change or there is an anticipated closure of a school," Bush said.1 comment on this story
Oquirrh Hills was in turnaround status due to poor academic performance. It had three years to improve by one letter grade under the state accountability system but its performance worsened, necessitating other action required by state law.
SB245 also requires school districts or charter school boards to give annual notice to school communities, including municipal leaders, when a school is in turnaround status.
The information is to include the school's goals, benchmarks and timetable in the school's turnaround plan and its progress.
It also would include information for how the community can support the school and students "inside and outside the classroom."