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Educators, school employees to hold press conference at Capitol today to oppose school voucher bill

Utah Legislature
Rick Bowmer
The Utah State Capitol is shown during the first day of the Utah Legislature 2022 general session on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, in Salt Lake City.

Monday at 5 p.m., public school employees are holding a press conference at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City to express opposition to the Legislature’s school voucher bill.

The Utah Parent Teacher Association, the statewide teachers and school employees unions, the Utah School Superintendents Association and other statewide groups will gather this evening at 5 p.m. in support of public education funding.

The press conference, to be held in the Governors Hall of the State Capitol, comes after House Bill 215 passed in a 54-20 vote. The vote was made possible when the house suspended its own rules to fast-track the decision.

The bill would set up a scholarship fund of tax dollars for families to use to attend private schools. The money would come from current public school funds.

Critics argue it would gut Utah public schools financially. Utah is already in second-to-last place in the country in how much it spends on public education, with only Idaho spending less.

The bill is drawing rare bipartisan opposition, with the heavily Republican state board of education voting 10-5 to oppose it. Critics said if the bill becomes law it could siphon off $42 million annually in public school funds to be used for private and homeschooling.

Park City Board of Education member Meredith Reed spoke to the Utah Senate education committee Monday to oppose the bill.

The bill’s sponsor, Candice Pierucci, R-Herriman, called the bill “the beginning of us reinventing public education in Utah.”

If the bill passes out of the Senate committee, it will head to the full Senate for a vote, then to the Governor’s desk for signing into law.

Michelle, who joined KPCW in 2021, arrived in Utah in 2018 by way of Massachusetts, where the skiing was icy and the mosquitoes formidable. A former daily newspaper reporter and editor (at the Visalia Times-Delta in CA) and columnist (at The Cohasset Mariner in MA), Michelle has been a writer and editor for decades. She holds a journalism degree from CSU Fresno and has worked as a journalist, freelance writer and web content creator, reporting extensively on education and youth along with general assignment and breaking news.