Home schools and micro-schooling defined under new Utah bill

Feb 7, 2023, 8:00 AM
Utah 2022 legislative session...
Aerial view of the Utah State Capitol. A new bill in the Utah legislature would legalize psychoactive mushrooms in a way that is similar to the state's marijuana laws. Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News, KSL-TV Chopper 5

SALT LAKE CITY — Home schools and micro-schools in Utah could get an update under a new bill seeking to define them under Utah law.

S.B. 166, run by Sen. Lincoln Fillmore (R-South Jordan), would also set up some of the schools’ zoning rules. This means where and how they can operate in a city or town.

According to the current language of the bill, home schools would be defined as 25 kids or fewer. Along with this, micro-schools would be two or more families “jointly providing education” with 150 kids or fewer.

Can a school be set up anywhere?

For home schools, the current text of the bill says they are “not subject to additional occupancy requirements beyond those required of a primary dwelling.”

And for micro-schools, they would largely be included in the zoning rules that apply to Utah’s charter schools.

“[Charter schools] became what’s called ‘permitted use’ years ago,” said Connor Boyack of the Libertas Institute. He told KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic that they asked Fillmore to run this bill. The group was also behind the hotly debated, newly enacted law to create a school choice program called Utah Fits All.

He argues Utah should be making it easier for these schools to set up.

“[Charters] can go into any zones, cities just have to let them in so that we can have more schools,” Boyack said. “The only policy change is really to say is that these micro schools benefit from that same local government zoning flexibility.”

What about micro-schools?

Sen. Kathleen Riebe (D-Cottonwood Heights) says she has “serious concerns” with the bill.

“Twenty-five kids, that’s a lot of kids,” she said.

Riebe argues this bill allows micro-schools to set up in areas where things like roads, traffic congestion and even the sewer systems might not be set up for it.

“You just can’t have this much traffic coming and going,” she said. “You have to give our local areas the ability to say I don’t want this to happen in my neighborhood,” she said.

“[A residential street] wasn’t zoned for [home schools allowing 25 kids], this wasn’t planned for this,” she said. “It’s just some random person saying we’re going to add 25 cars twice a day at least.”

Riebe also took to Twitter over the weekend arguing this was a companion bill to the school choice or so-called school voucher bill. 

Boyack told Dave and Dujanovic it was not.

Sen. Fillmore said the bill is still in negotiations but declined to comment further. 

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Home schools and micro-schooling defined under new Utah bill