Private schools celebrate state funding, expect ‘significant uptick in enrollment’

Jan 28, 2023, 10:06 PM | Updated: 10:09 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s private schools are celebrating that they’ll receive state funding for the first time through a new school choice program.

Gov. Spencer Cox signed HB 215 into law on Saturday, which provides funding to the school choice program along with $6,000 in raises for public school teachers.

About 5,000 students will receive scholarships to attend private schools through a new process that the state is establishing now. The state will select a program manager by September, and then applications will open sometime in 2024. The first ones will be awarded for the 2024-2025 school year.

Each school voucher will be worth up to $8,000, which is the average cost of a private school in Utah for kindergarten through eighth grade, according to Galey Colosimo, executive director of the Utah Private Schools Association and principal at Juan Diego Catholic School in Draper. The average cost for high schoolers is $12,000 per year.

Colosimo’s organization represents 35 private schools. He said there are a total of 132 in the state, with enrollment totaling about 23,000 students.

“There are many schools that have large openings, many openings, and so I would say across those 35 (schools), a large percentage of them will see a significant uptick in enrollment as a result of it,” he explained.

Colosimo said private schools generally set tuition based on a sliding scale, with lower-income families paying less. The vouchers from the state will help close the gap.

“Now what it’ll be is we have a family that was paying $1,500 who will now come to us with an $8,000 scholarship,” Colosimo said.

SLC high school teachers walkout to protest school voucher bill

The state has allocated $42 million per year for the vouchers and the overhead to run the program.

“It’s going to allow us to pay our teachers more money,” he added. “It’ll allow us to have more programs that may not have been possible before with extracurricular programs or activities.”

Colosimo said that based on what’s happened in school choice programs in other states, it could be three or four years before more private schools start to open.

“It’s not meant to destroy public education,” he expressed. “It’s bringing private schools into the K-12 landscape to be an option for parents just like charter schools are or just like online schools are.”

Stepheni Camero, whose two grandsons go to a private catholic school, said her family pays $20,000 for the two children to attend.

“This is really good, and it’s fair,” Camero said. “You know, when you pay and keep the state going and keep everything up and up, we should get some benefit out of it somehow.”

The state’s largest teachers union, the Utah Education Association, fought against HB 215. Public school teachers have said public money should go toward public schools. They’ve also raised concerns about accountability and standards for private schools.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Education & Schools

Granite District K9...
Matt Rascon, Eliza Pace, and Lauren Steinbrecher

KSL+: Guns at schools and what’s being done about it?

Amid an increase in gun threats and incidents at some Utah schools, one school district is taking matters into its own hands to try and keep students safe.
1 day ago
Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...
Madison Swenson

UPDATE: Lockout protocol lifted at four Saratoga Springs schools

At approximately 10:30 a.m. Thursday, the lockout protocol was lifted at Vista Heights Middle School, Thunder Ridge Elementary School, Lakeview Academy and Westlake High School in Saratoga Springs.
1 day ago
Kaitlyn Bancroft

A Black USU grad says a professor drew a racist cartoon of him. Now he’s suing

A former graduate student filed a lawsuit Monday against Utah State University over how the school handled his complaints about a professor he says drew a racist cartoon of him.
3 days ago
Associated Press

Lawyer: 29-year-old who posed as teen student was lonely

A 29-year-old woman accused of using false documents to enroll as a New Jersey high school student and attend some classes over a four-day period did so because she was lonely and longed to return to her days with friends in school, her lawyer said.
3 days ago
C. Shane Reese was announced as BYU's next president. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU)...
Josh Ellis

BYU names C. Shane Reese as university’s 14th president

Christopher Shane Reese has been named the 14th president of Brigham Young University.
3 days ago
Sylvia Garcia, from Bassett Street Elementary, talks as she and other teachers attend a Los Angeles...
Christopher Weber, Associated Press

Los Angeles schools shut down as staff strike for better pay

Tens of thousands of workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District have walked off the job over stalled contract talks.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

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.
Close up of an offset printing machine during production...
Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.
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.
Private schools celebrate state funding, expect ‘significant uptick in enrollment’