Iron County School Officials Discuss Impact Of Legislative Session
Dr. Lance Hatch, Superintendent of the Iron County School District, and Todd Hess, the Business Administrator for the district joined us on the Big Picture Morning Show to discuss the impact of the recently concluded general Session of the Utah State Legislature on education. Dr. Hatch stated that “we were actively involved as Business Administrators and School Superintendents and school board members in discussing 80 bills” that were related to education, and the superintendent mentioned those were not the only bills related to education. Hatch also said that school districts get “a lot of regulation every year” and that it takes time to “make all the adjustments” after dealing with the amount of bills the legislature passes. Dr. Hatch indicated that they, along with educators from around the state have opportunity to visit the legislature and speak to the various issues being discussed. He also indicated that the Iron County School District has a “good relationship with out local legislators.”
The superintendent mentioned two specific items that came from the legislature this year. The first was HB 215 which attached teacher salary increases to voucher programs. Hatch said “we didn't see that one coming....it happened so fast.” He stated that the bill will have major ramifications through out the state as the voucher program moves forward. As far as the salary increase, Dr. Hatch said it would be a “huge boost across the state for teachers.”
The other piece of legislation mentioned was SJR 10. This legislation is actually a proposal to amend the Utah Constitution change the requirement that funding collected by income tax be solely used for education. Mr. Hess said “it would open up some of that (income tax revenue)...to be used for other state purposes.” Hess said that one good outcome in the discussion of SJR 10 is that it guarantees education “certain amounts of funding” before income tax revenue could be used for other purposes. In return for passing the constitutional amendment, the legislature would eliminate that state portion of sales tax on food in Utah. The measure to amend the Utah Constitution would not be on the ballot until 2024.
Also coming from the legislature this year was HB 477 which will fund full day kindergarten through out Utah. Dr. Hatch saw that as a “huge opportunity...for a lot of families.”
According to the enrollment count taken in October of 2022, student enrollment in Iron County schools rose by about 1.7 to 1.75 percent increase. Both of our guests indicated some surprise that the number was that low, but close to projections. With the growth of population, and with all day kindergarten, Dr. Hatch said that “facilities are going to be an issue here in the county.”
When asked to grade the legislative session in regards to education, Dr. Hatch gave them a grade of “C”. Funding wise both guests said the legislature did better giving a grade of “B+”.
You can hear the entire interview below.
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