Republican Senator Howard Stephenson wants local schools to have more control over where they spend their money. The Draper lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would require school districts distribute education dollars directly to schools; giving principals control over how it’s spent. But state education leaders say there are problems with the measure.
Stephenson says decisions about hiring employees, and buying textbooks and supplies are currently made by large school districts that handle 60,000 or more students. Right now local schools have to spend the money however the district decides. He argues local schools know what’s best for their students.
“This would empower principals and teachers to use their resources to specifically address the needs of their student body and ensure that the funding follows the students," Stephenson says. "Right now you can’t be assured that the funding follows any student.”
Stephenson says Senate Bill 110 would essentially make the principal, CEO of the school, rather than just the teaching coordinator. This is currently how Charter schools in Utah operate.
Superintendent Martel Menlove says principals with strong school community councils might be willing to take on the added responsibility, but others won’t.
“Some building principals don’t have an active school community council, the principal is going to be saying hey I’m going to be making these decisions all by myself and I would just as soon have someone else do that for me," Menlove says.
Members of the state school board also worried some schools would have to hire additional staff.
Stephenson said he’s willing to change the bill if necessary. It's currently in the Senate Education Committee waiting for a hearing.