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Utah’s Republican-majority state school board votes to oppose vouchers

Tribune HB 215 1-23-23.jpg
(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune)
A packed room listens as Rep. Candice Pierucci, R-Riverton, sponsor of HB215, speaks on the voucher bill in committee last week at the Utah Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. On Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, the Utah State Board of Education took a public position against the measure.

The 15-member board voted 10-5 to take a public stance against HB215.

In a significant move, the state school board voted early Monday to stand against the voucher bill currently rushing through the Utah Legislature that would allow students to use public funding to attend private schools.

The state’s top elected education leaders on the Utah State Board of Education now join a growing list of stakeholders who have announced their opposition to the controversial measure — including the largest teachers union in the state and the Utah PTA.

“Overwhelmingly, the education community has spoken out against this bill,” said Sarah Reale, a newly elected Democratic member of the board and educator at Salt Lake Community College. “It just simply isn’t good governing.”

The board, which oversees all of public K-12 education in the state, voted 10-5 in a bipartisan tally to oppose HB215. The position came in an emergency meeting held shortly ahead of the scheduled Senate Education Committee hearing for the bill, which is set for 2 p.m. Monday.

Reale and Carol Lear, the two Democrats on the 15-member board, were joined by eight Republicans who also voted to not support the measure. The remaining five Republicans — James Moss, Matt Hymas, Joseph Kerry, Emily Green and Jennie Earl — were in favor of the bill or of the board taking a neutral position on it.

Find the full report here.