Universal Scholarship Plan Enacted in Utah

Utah recently enacted a measure to grant a (nearly) universal scholarship program for all students who wish to attend private schools in the state. The only students not eligible will be those currently enrolled in private schools. Even then, some of them will be able to use the funds, if their family income falls below a specified level.

While there are similar programs in over 10 states, all have various restrictions: special needs students only, residents of specific districts, children in chronically failing districts, only poor families, and so forth. While the Utah plan has an income element to it (the greater your income, the less money you get), when fully phased it, it will be open to every child.

The program should to into place the next school year. There’s not much official information, so we are reproducing the legislation below, so you can get some idea of how it will work.

The Salt Lake Tribune has a too-brief article, here.

H.B. 148

This document includes House Committee Amendments incorporated into the bill on Wed, Jan 31, 2007 at 11:09 AM by ddonat. –> This document includes House Committee Amendments (CORRECTED) incorporated into the bill on Wed, Jan 31, 2007 at 1:41 PM by ddonat. –> 1

EDUCATION VOUCHERS
2 2007 GENERAL SESSION
3 STATE OF UTAH
4 Chief Sponsor: Stephen H. Urquhart
5 Senate Sponsor: Curtis S. Bramble
6
7 LONG TITLE
8 General Description:
9 This bill creates a program to award scholarships to students to attend a private school.
10 Highlighted Provisions:
11 This bill:
12 . specifies criteria for qualifying for a scholarship;
13 . specifies criteria for private schools to enroll scholarship students;
14 . specifies the amount, timing, and form of scholarship payments;
15 . requires the State Board of Education to make rules;
16 . gives the State Board of Education enforcement authority;
17 . requires the Legislature to annually appropriate money from the General Fund for
18 scholarship payments; H. and .H
19 . allows a school district to retain in enrollment a student that transfers to a private
20 school for a period of five years, with a deduction equal to the average scholarship
21 amount H. [ ; and
22 . allows the State Board of Education to transfer unused scholarship monies to the
23 Minimum School Program
] .H
.
24 Monies Appropriated in this Bill:
25 This bill appropriates:
26 . as on ongoing appropriation subject to future budget constraints, $100,000 from the
27 General Fund for fiscal year 2006-07 to the State Board of Education.


28 Other Special Clauses:
29 None
30 Utah Code Sections Affected:
31 ENACTS:
32 53A-1a-801, Utah Code Annotated 1953
33 53A-1a-802, Utah Code Annotated 1953
34 53A-1a-803, Utah Code Annotated 1953
35 53A-1a-804, Utah Code Annotated 1953
36 53A-1a-805, Utah Code Annotated 1953
37 53A-1a-806, Utah Code Annotated 1953
38 53A-1a-807, Utah Code Annotated 1953
39 53A-1a-808, Utah Code Annotated 1953
40 53A-1a-809, Utah Code Annotated 1953
41 53A-1a-810, Utah Code Annotated 1953
42 53A-1a-811, Utah Code Annotated 1953
43 H. [ 53A-1a-812, Utah Code Annotated 1953 ] .H
44
45 Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
46 Section 1. Section 53A-1a-801 is enacted to read:
47 Part 8. Parent Choice in Education Act
48 53A-1a-801. Title.
49 This part is known as the “Parent Choice in Education Act.”
50 Section 2. Section 53A-1a-802 is enacted to read:
51 53A-1a-802. Findings and purpose.
52 The Legislature finds that:
53 (1) parents are presumed best informed to make decisions for their children, including
54 the educational setting that will best serve their children’s interests and educational needs;
55 (2) the establishment of this choice in education program is justified on the basis of
56 funding the educational needs of school-age children as determined by their parents;
57 (3) school-age children are the primary beneficiaries of the choice in education
58 program authorized in this part, and any benefit to private schools, whether sectarian or secular,


59 is indirect and incidental;
60 (4) the choice in education program authorized by this part is available to the parents of
61 school-age children, solely on the basis of income level for the year immediately preceding the
62 year for which a scholarship is sought, and not on the basis of sex, race, religion, national
63 origin, or any other criteria; and
64 (5) the choice in education program authorized in this part is:
65 (a) enacted for the valid secular purpose of tailoring a child’s education to that child’s
66 specific needs as determined by the parent;
67 (b) neutral with respect to religion; and
68 (c) limited in its assistance to a parent, who may choose to use the scholarship to offset
69 tuition or fees charged by a private school, either sectarian or secular, in which enrollment of
70 the parent’s child is sought, solely as a result of the parent’s genuine and independent private
71 choices.
72 Section 3. Section 53A-1a-803 is enacted to read:
73 53A-1a-803. Definitions.
74 As used in this part:
75 (1) “Board” means the State Board of Education.
76 (2) “Eligible private school” means a private school that meets the requirements of
77 Section 53A-1a-805 .
78 (3) “Income eligibility guideline” means the maximum annual income allowed to
79 qualify for reduced price meals for the applicable household size as published by the U.S.
80 Department of Agriculture by notice in the Federal Register.
81 (4) “Parent” includes a legal guardian.
82 (5) “Scholarship student” means a student who receives a scholarship under this part.
83 (6) “Tuition” means amounts charged for attending a private school, excluding fees for
84 extracurricular activities or transportation to the private school.
85 Section 4. Section 53A-1a-804 is enacted to read:
86 53A-1a-804. Scholarship program created — Qualifications — Application.
87 (1) The Parent Choice in Education Program is created to award scholarships to
88 students to attend a private school.
89 (2) To qualify for a scholarship under this part:


90 (a) the student’s custodial parent or legal guardian shall reside within Utah;
91 (b) the student shall be at least five years of age before September 2 of the year in
92 which admission to a private school is sought and under 19 years of age on the last day of the
93 school year as determined by the private school, or, if the individual has not graduated from
94 high school, will be under 22 years of age on the last day of the school year as determined by
95 the private school;
96 (c) the student shall meet one or more of the following criteria:
97 (i) the student was born after September 1, 2001;
98 (ii) the student was enrolled as a full-time student in a Utah public school on January 1,
99 2007;
100 (iii) the individual was not a Utah resident on January 1, 2007; or
101 (iv) the student’s parents had an annual income less than or equal to 100% of the
102 income eligibility guideline in the calendar year immediately preceding the school year for
103 which a scholarship is sought; and
104 (d) the student may not be a recipient of a scholarship awarded under Chapter 1a, Part
105 7, Carson Smith Scholarships for Students with Special Needs Act.
106 (3) (a) To receive a scholarship, the parent of a student shall submit an application for
107 the scholarship to the board by the June 1 preceding the school year for which a scholarship is
108 sought, except the deadline for submitting an application for the 2007-08 school years is
108a July H. [ 1 ] 15 .H ,
109 2007. Along with the application, the student’s parent shall submit documentation verifying
110 income as required by board rule.
111 (b) The board may waive the application deadline.
112 (4) The board shall award scholarships by the July 1 preceding the school year for
113 which a scholarship is sought, except the deadline for awarding scholarships for the 2007-08
114 school year is August H. [ 1 ] 15 .H , 2007.
115 (5) (a) The scholarship application form shall contain the following statement:
116 “I acknowledge that:
117 (1) A private school may not provide the same level of services that are provided in a
118 public school.
119 (2) The private school in which I have chosen to enroll my child has disclosed to me
120 the teaching credentials of the school’s teachers and the school’s accreditation status.


121 (3) I will assume full financial responsibility for the education of my scholarship
122 student if I accept this scholarship.
123 (4) Acceptance of this scholarship has the same effect as a parental refusal to consent
124 to services pursuant to Section 614(a)(1) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20
125 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.”
126 (b) Upon acceptance of the scholarship, the parent assumes full financial responsibility
127 for the education of the scholarship student for the period in which the student receives the
128 scholarship.
129 (c) Acceptance of a scholarship has the same effect as a parental refusal to consent to
130 services pursuant to Section 614(a)(1) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20
131 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.
132 (6) A student’s parent, at any time, may remove the student from a private school and
133 place the student in another eligible private school and retain the scholarship.
134 Section 5. Section 53A-1a-805 is enacted to read:
135 53A-1a-805. Eligible private schools.
136 (1) To be eligible to enroll a scholarship student, a private school shall:
137 (a) have a physical location in Utah where the scholarship students attend classes and
138 have direct contact with the school’s teachers;
139 (b) contract with an independent certified public accountant to perform the agreed upon
140 procedures specified in Subsection (2) and produce a report of the results which shall be
141 submitted to the board at the times specified in Subsection (2);
142 (c) comply with the antidiscrimination provisions of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000d;
143 (d) meet state and local health and safety laws and codes;
144 (e) disclose to the parent of each prospective student, before the student is enrolled, the
145 special education services that will be provided to the student, if any, including the cost of
146 those services;
147 (f) (i) annually assess the achievement of each student by administering:
148 (A) a norm-referenced test scored by an independent party that provides a comparison
149 of the student’s performance to other students on a national basis; or
150 (B) an alternative assessment of the student’s achievement, if the student:
151 (I) has a disability or limited English proficiency; and


152 (II) would be exempt from taking a nationally norm-referenced achievement test if
153 enrolled in a Utah public school;
154 (ii) report the test results to the student’s parents; and
155 (iii) upon request, make test results available to other persons, in a manner that does
156 not reveal the identity of any student;
157 (g) employ or contract with teachers who:
158 (i) hold baccalaureate or higher degrees; or
159 (ii) have special skills, knowledge, or expertise that qualifies them to provide
160 instruction in the subjects taught;
161 (h) provide to parents the teaching credentials of the school’s teachers; and
162 (i) provide, upon request to any person, a statement indicating which, if any,
163 organizations have accredited the private school.
164 (2) (a) The agreed upon procedures to be performed pursuant to Subsection (1)(b) are
165 as follows:
166 (i) (A) determine that working capital is at least 80% of average quarterly expenditures
167 by taking total expenditures for a year and dividing it by four and then dividing average
168 quarterly expenditures into working capital; and
169 (B) for a school in the first year of operations, use the estimated budget to estimate
170 average quarterly expenditures;
171 (ii) (A) determine that scholarship payments are accounted for separately and
172 reconciled to student records; and
173 (B) for the first year of operations, determine that procedures are in place for this
174 accounting; and
175 (iii) (A) determine that expenditure of scholarship funds have been made for education
176 expenses and is consistent with other tuition expenditures; and
177 (B) for the first year of operations, determine that procedures are in place for this
178 accounting.
179 (b) (i) The independent certified public accountant’s report on the agreed upon
180 procedures specified in Subsection (2)(a) shall be submitted to the board when the private
181 school applies to accept scholarship students and every four years thereafter, except as
182 provided in Subsection (2)(b)(ii).


183 (ii) The board may, by rule, delay the date when the independent certified public
184 accountant’s report shall be submitted for private schools applying to accept scholarship
185 students in the 2007-08 school year.
186 (3) The following are not eligible to enroll scholarship students:
187 (a) a school with an enrollment of fewer than 40 students;
188 (b) a school that operates in a residence; or
189 (c) a residential treatment facility licensed by the state.
190 (4) (a) Except as provided in Subsection (4)(b), a private school intending to enroll
191 scholarship students shall submit an application to the board by April 1 of the school year
192 preceding the school year in which it intends to enroll scholarship students.
193 (b) A private school intending to enroll scholarship students in the 2007-08 school year
194 shall submit an application by June 15, 2007.
195 (5) The board shall:
196 (a) approve a private school’s application to enroll scholarship students if the private
197 school meets the eligibility requirements of this section; and
198 (b) make available to the public a list of the eligible private schools:
199 (i) for the 2008-09 school year and each school year thereafter, by the April 30
200 preceding the school year; and
201 (ii) for the 2007-08 school year, by July 1, 2007.
202 Section 6. Section 53A-1a-806 is enacted to read:
203 53A-1a-806. Scholarship payments.
204 (1) (a) Scholarships shall be awarded by the board subject to the availability of money
205 appropriated by the Legislature for that purpose.
206 (b) The Legislature shall annually appropriate money to the board from the General
207 Fund to make scholarship payments for all students projected to apply for scholarships.
208 (c) (i) If monies are not available to pay for all scholarships requested, the scholarships
209 shall be allocated on a random basis except that preference shall be given to students who
210 received scholarships in the previous year.
211 (ii) If monies are insufficient in a school year to pay for all the continuing scholarships:
212 (A) new scholarships may not be awarded during that school year;
213 (B) the monies available for scholarships shall be prorated among the eligible students


214 who received scholarships in the previous year; and
215 (C) the board shall request a supplemental appropriation from the Legislature to make
216 full scholarship payments as provided in Subsection (4) or (5).
217 (2) (a) Scholarships shall be awarded based upon the income of a scholarship student’s
218 parents in the calendar year immediately preceding the school year for which a scholarship is
219 sought.
220 (b) (i) The board shall make rules specifying how the income of a prospective
221 scholarship student’s parents shall be determined.
222 (ii) The rules shall provide that the scholarship shall be based upon parental income as
223 follows:
224 (A) if the parents are married, the income of both parents;
225 (B) if a parent is widowed, the income of the widowed parent;
226 (C) if a parent is widowed and has remarried, the income of the parent and stepparent;
227 (D) if the parents are divorced, the income of the parent with whom the scholarship
228 student resided for the greatest amount of time during the past 12 months;
229 (E) if the parents are divorced and the scholarship student resided with each parent an
230 equal amount of time, the income of the parent who provided more financial support during the
231 past 12 months;
232 (F) if the divorced parent with whom the scholarship student resided for the greatest
233 amount of time or who provided the greatest financial support has remarried, the income of the
234 parent and stepparent; and
235 (G) if the scholarship student resides with a guardian, the income of the guardian,
236 unless the guardian’s income is exempt by board rule.
237 (iii) The rules shall provide that:
238 (A) if a parent filed federal or state income tax forms, income shall be based upon
239 adjusted gross income as listed on the income tax forms;
240 (B) if a parent was exempt from filing federal and state income tax forms, income shall
241 be based on income earned from work; and
242 (C) a parent shall submit documentation verifying income.
243 (3) (a) The board shall compare the income of a scholarship student’s parents to the
244 maximum annual incomes listed in the income eligibility guideline as defined in Section


245 53A-1a-803 to set the scholarship amount.
246 (b) In determining scholarship amounts, the board shall use:
247 (i) the income eligibility guideline in effect for the school year immediately preceding
248 the school year for which a scholarship is sought; and
249 (ii) the scholarship student’s household size as the applicable household size for the
250 purpose of determining maximum annual income under the income eligibility guideline.
251 (4) Full-year scholarships shall be awarded in the amounts shown in the following
252 table, or for the amount of tuition for a full year, whichever is less.
253 If the annual income of a scholarship
254 student’s parents is: The full-year scholarship amount is:
255 Less than or equal to 100% of the
256 income eligibility guideline $3,000
257 Greater than 100% but less than or equal
258 to 125% of the income eligibility guideline $2,750
259 Greater than 125% but less than or equal to
260 150% of the income eligibility guideline $2,500
261 Greater than 150% but less than or equal to
262 175% of the income eligibility guideline $2,250
263 Greater than 175% but less than or equal to
264 200% of the income eligibility guideline $2,000
265 Greater than 200% but less than or equal to
266 225% of the income eligibility guideline $1,750
267 Greater than 225% but less than or equal to
268 250% of the income eligibility guideline $1,000
269 Greater than 250% of the income eligibility guideline $500
270 (5) The full-year scholarship amounts shown in the table in Subsection (4) apply to
271 scholarships for all grades except kindergarten. The full-year scholarship amount for
272 kindergarten shall be .55 times the amounts shown in the table in Subsection (4).
273 (6) The board shall annually increase the full-year scholarship amounts shown in the
274 table in Subsection (4) by the same percentage annual increase in the value of the weighted
275 pupil unit established in Section 53A-17a-103 .


276 (7) (a) Except as provided in Subsection (7)(b), upon review and receipt of
277 documentation that verifies a student’s admission to, or continuing enrollment and attendance
278 at, a private school, the board shall make scholarship payments in four equal amounts no later
279 than September 1, November 1, February 1, and April 15 of each school year in which a
280 scholarship is in force.
281 (b) In accordance with board rule, the board shall make a scholarship payment before
282 the first quarterly payment of the school year, if a private school requires partial payment of
283 tuition before the start of the school year to reserve space for a student admitted to the school.
284 (8) A parent of a scholarship student and the student’s private school shall notify the
285 board if the student does not have continuing enrollment and attendance at the private school.
286 (9) Before scholarship payments are made, the board shall cross-check enrollment lists
287 of scholarship students, school districts, and youth in custody to ensure that scholarship
288 payments are not erroneously made.
289 (10) (a) Scholarship payments shall be made by the board by individual warrant made
290 payable to the student’s parent and mailed by the board to the private school. The parent shall
291 restrictively endorse the warrant to the private school for deposit into the account of the private
292 school.
293 (b) A person, on behalf of a private school, may not accept a power of attorney from a
294 parent to sign a warrant referred to in Subsection (10)(a), and a parent of a scholarship student
295 may not give a power of attorney designating a person, on behalf of a private school, as the
296 parent’s attorney in fact.
297 Section 7. Section 53A-1a-807 is enacted to read:
298 53A-1a-807. Mitigation monies.
299 (1) As provided in this section, a school district shall receive monies to mitigate
300 potential impacts due to the unplanned reduction in revenues resulting from the transfer of
301 scholarship students from the district to a private school.
302 (2) A school district shall retain in enrollment for purposes of receiving funds under
303 the minimum school program each scholarship student that:
304 (a) transfers from the school district to a private school; and
305 (b) resides within the boundaries of the school district.
306 (3) Each transferred scholarship student meeting the criteria of Subsection (2) shall be


307 retained in enrollment:
308 (a) for five years following the transfer or until the student would have graduated from
309 high school if within five years of the date or transfer; or
310 (b) until the student transfers back to the school district, if the student transfers back to
311 the school district within five years.
312 (4) For each year a school district retains in enrollment transferred scholarship students
313 as provided in this section, the board shall deduct from minimum school program funds
314 distributed to the school district an amount equal to the number of transferred scholarship
315 students retained in enrollment times the average scholarship amount for scholarship students
316 statewide.
316a H. (5) The monies deducted from a school district’s minimum school program funds as
316b provided in Subsection (4) shall be deposited into the Uniform School Fund.
317 [ Section 8. Section 53A-1a-808 is enacted to read:
318 53A-1a-808. Transfer of balance.
319 After awarding the scholarships and budgeting for mitigation monies under this part,
320 the board shall transfer any remaining balance appropriated for scholarships or mitigation
321 monies to the kindergarten and grades 1-12 basic programs established under Chapter 17a,
322 Minimum School Program Act.
] .H
323 Section H. [ 9 ] 8 .H . Section 53A-1a- H. [ 809 ] 808 .H is enacted to read:
324 53A-1a- H. [ 809 ] 808 .H . Board to make rules.
325 (1) In accordance with Title 63, Chapter 46a, Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act, the
326 board shall make rules consistent with this part:
327 (a) establishing the application process for the scholarship program, including
328 procedures to allow a parent to apply for a scholarship online;
329 (b) establishing how the income of a scholarship student’s parents shall be determined;
330 and
331 (c) implementing Section 53A-1a-807 .
332 (2) By May 15, 2007, the board shall adopt rules establishing:
333 (a) the application process for private schools and scholarship students; and
334 (b) how the income of a scholarship student’s parents shall be determined.
335 Section H. [ 10 ] 9 .H . Section 53A-1a- H. [ 810 ] 809 .H is enacted to read:
336 53A-1a- H. [ 810 ] 809 .H . Enforcement and penalties.
337 (1) (a) The board shall require private schools to submit signed affidavits assuring the


338 private school will comply with the requirements of this part.
339 (b) If a school fails to submit a signed affidavit after having an opportunity to provide
340 explanations and request delays, the board may:
341 (i) deny the private school permission to enroll scholarship students; and
342 (ii) interrupt disbursement of or withhold scholarship payments.
343 (2) The board may investigate complaints and convene administrative hearings for an
344 alleged violation of this part.
345 (3) Upon a finding that this part was violated, the board may:
346 (a) deny a private school permission to enroll scholarship students;
347 (b) interrupt disbursement of or withhold scholarship payments; or
348 (c) issue an order for repayment of scholarship payments fraudulently obtained.
349 Section H. [ 11 ] 10 .H . Section 53A-1a- H. [ 811 ] 810 .H is enacted to read:
350 53A-1a- H. [ 811 ] 810 .H . Limitation on regulation of private schools.
351 Nothing in this part grants additional authority to any state agency or school district to
352 regulate private schools except as expressly set forth in this part.
353 Section H. [ 12 ] 11 .H . Section 53A-1a- H. [ 812 ] 811 .H is enacted to read:
354 53A-1a- H. [ 812 ] 811 .H . Review by legislative auditor general.
355 The legislative auditor general shall conduct a review and issue a report on the Parent
356 Choice in Education Program after the conclusion of the 2013-14 school year.
357 Section H. [ 13 ] 12 .H . Appropriation.
358 As an ongoing appropriation subject to future budget constraints, $100,000 is
359 appropriated from the General Fund for fiscal year 2006-07 to the State Board of Education for
360 the administration of the Parent Choice in Education Act created in Title 53A, Chapter 1a, Part
361 8.

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