By Carlene Walker
Utah State Senator, District 8
With the 2006 passage of HB77, qualifying municipalities can now create new, smaller school districts.
HB77 allows cities, or a combination of cities, with a minimum population of 65,000 to form a new school district. Citizens of Cottonwood Heights, Holladay, South Salt Lake, Millcreek Township as well as others are studying their options.
Utah has some of the largest school districts in the nation and some feel they would be better served by smaller districts. In addition, Alpine, Jordan and Granite School Districts will probably be proposing large new school bonds in the near future – in anticipation of explosive growth. This has spurred the cities to seriously look at whether their residents would be better served by smaller school districts. Some cities are anticipating increased property taxes to fund new bonds - with most of the new money going outside their city to fund growth elsewhere.
HB77 has found enthusiastic support from some parents but it seems to have raised as many questions as it has answered. Among these are the following:
- What questions should be explored in the required feasibility study?
- What happens to the assets of the existing school district?
- How does the new district deal with existing contract obligations of teachers and vendors?
These, and many other questions will be addressed in the coming months by an ad hoc committee formed by the Political Subdivisions Interim Committee
I would love to hear what people are thinking about this issue.