School voucher bill clears committee, moves to full Senate

Jan 23, 2023, 7:39 PM | Updated: 9:40 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A controversial bill that would help give students more opportunities to get an education outside of public schools was one step closer to becoming law Monday after it passed the Senate Education Committee.

HB215 would give teachers a pay raise, but it would also establish a scholarship fund that would provide $8,000 to students to fund other options for obtaining an education, like attending a private school or home schooling.

The bill passed through the House last week before going to a packed room for the Senate Education Committee. Supporters included parents, teachers and students who said the bill would allow parents to customize their child’s education to better fit their needs. They said it would help students who “fall through the cracks” of the public education system.

“A scholarship fund like this one would have been a life raft,” said Laura Feller speaking of her own experience with her children during the public comment period. “I know there are other families like mine who are desperate to help their children but lack the resources to do so.”

Several organizations have come out against the bill, including the Utah State Board of Education. The board held an emergency meeting Monday morning, where 10 members opposed the bill and five supported it.

Utah State Board of Education votes to oppose school voucher bill

Opponents have argued the public education system already offers plenty of options, including dual immersion programs, online programs and charter schools. Others — including teachers — have argued the scholarship fund would take money away from public education.

“Public education should be fully funded before we even begin to funnel tax dollars into the private sector,” said Julie Beane, a special education teacher in the Canyon School District. “This bill will further devastate money for our public schools, which are already stretched further than any other state in the union.”

According to the nonpartisan office of legislative research and general counsel, the bill would take the $42.5 million from income tax revenue. This revenue can be used to help fund public and higher education and to support children and people with disabilities.

“Parents want more choices. They want to match the education their child gets to the specific school,” said Royce Van Tassle, executive director of the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools.

Van Tassle said the association was neutral on HB215, but in favor of school choice.

“And I’m personally neutral on it. I think that the best school wins,” said Anthony Sudweeks, founder of charter school Wallace Stegner Academy. “If I was worrying about losing students, I would make sure that our schools were the best schools. I wouldn’t try to stop other schools from opening.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories


USU student Max Shulga during Saturday night's game....
Shelby Lofton

Utah State community responds to ‘Russia’ chants directed at Ukrainian player

Some USU students say that the Colorado State University students crossed a line that goes beyond simple trash talk during a game.
1 day ago
This week on Sunday Edition, Doug Wright is joined by KSL reporter Ladd Egan to look ahead at abort...

Sunday Edition: Utah Abortion Bill, School Vouchers

This week on Sunday Edition, Doug Wright is joined by KSL reporter Ladd Egan to look ahead at abortion access legislation being unveiled on Utah's Capitol Hill and speak to the representative who brought the school choice bill into law and their future bills.
1 day ago
Presenters at the Health Relationship Youth Summit asking for final questions. (KSL-TV's Mark Less)...
Alex Cabrero

Utah teens learn more about healthy relationships at youth summit

Teenagers gathered at a Healthy Relationship Youth Summit to learn more about the signs of unhealthy relationships and be able to identify them.
2 days ago
For 29 years, Mike Skogerboe has been to nearly every girls and boys basketball game, and nearly ev...
Mike Anderson

Fremont High School helps support their superfan

Students and teachers at Fremont High School teamed up to help out their superfan who rarely misses a game.
2 days ago
FILE PHOTO - (Deseret News)...
Madison Swenson

One in custody, one outstanding after St. George home burglary

Four schools in St. George were placed under lockout protocol Friday while police searched for two burglary suspects in the nearby area.
3 days ago
Ashley Moser

Utah fifth grader successfully petitions to allow hats at his school

Manila Elementary School's policy allowed students to wear ball caps only on designated days. James Cope, 10, was not fond of that rule, so he started a petition.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
School voucher bill clears committee, moves to full Senate