Utah lawmakers draft bill aimed at future school district splits

Sep 18, 2023, 1:16 PM

Utah capitol -- Utah lawmakers are tackling the high costs of adoption, proposing changes that coul...

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers are drafting a bill that seeks to make any future school district split proposals a little bit smoother.

State Sen. Keith Grover, R-Provo, presented the bill for the first time Monday at an Education Interim Committee hearing at Utah Tech University.

The bill seeks to do two things:

  1. It would require an outside entity to conduct the feasibility study when a city or district is considering splitting. This means cities and districts would have no involvement in conducting the studies.
  2. It would require a feasibility study to be done once a district reaches a certain number of enrolled students. However, voters would still be in charge of deciding whether or not the split happens.

This bill comes less than a year after Orem City voters shot down a proposal to split from the Alpine School District after months of heated debate.

“At what point should we say, ‘This district is pretty big. What does big mean? How big should we be?” Grover said. “This [legislation] takes nothing away from the voters.”

The required enrollment threshold hasn’t been specified yet, but Grover told KSL NewsRadio it’ll be decided in an upcoming debate on the bill.

Speaking for himself, he said he thinks a study should be done when a district has between 20,000 and 25,000 students.

The bill is in its early stages and is now open for public comment. It’s being prepared to be presented in the 2024 Legislative Session.

“If you’ve not been part of a school district split…it is very very emotional…incredibly divisive,” Grover said. “My bill is hopefully just black and white [and] non-personal.”

Related: 12 Salt Lake City schools getting free breakfast and lunch this school year

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Utah lawmakers draft bill aimed at future school district splits